Waitrose has found to its cost that you mess with your loyalty scheme at your peril after major changes to the MyWaitrose programme, which have seen free hot drinks and newspaper offers ditched, have sparked uproar.
The changes are only being introduced in a handful of stores but are likely to be rolled out nationwide in the coming weeks.
From November 1 customers will need to spend a minimum of £10 to receive a free newspaper with their shopping – up from £5 – will they will also have to buy something before getting a free hot drink.
MyWaitrose members were emailed about the change this week but it has not gone down well on social media, with one Twitter user writing: “Dear @waitrose your £5 newspaper offer keeps me coming to your store most days. Doubling it to £10 I’m afraid won’t bother #change it back.’
While another slammed the supermarket for claiming the hike to £10 was “a small change”. He wrote: ‘Why not be honest? The newspaper offer isn’t changing. It’s getting worse. Spin like this makes you look like Tesco.”
In a statement, Waitrose did its best to allay customers. It said: “Our MyWaitrose free tea and coffee offer is one of the ways we thank our customers for shopping with us – and we want all our customers to be able to enjoy a free hot drink when they shop with us in our branches.
“The trial in eight of our shops simply asks customers to confirm they’ve made a purchase, before picking up their free coffee. There’s no minimum spend for this purchase. The hot free drink we offer has always been our ‘thank you’ to people who shop with us – so this trial is simply asking people to confirm that they are shoppers. So, actually, no change and nothing new.”
MyWaitrose members have been able to one free cup of tea or coffee every day, as well as discounts on shopping when they buy a newspaper, ever since the scheme launched in November 2012.
At the time, chief executive Mark Price said: “We are reinventing what a loyalty card is and challenging the view that you have to pay £2 or £3 for a cup of coffee.”
Waitrose rolled out the card in 2011 after initially launching it online in 2009. The scheme was devised by Kitcatt Nohr but the agency was replaced by Field Day (formerly AIS London) in 2013.
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