Journalist, likes people-watching, no-DSLR shutterbug, revels in the absurd and the nutty, loves books, blogs, travel, food, and tries not to be a cantankerous customer.

Sravanthi C

Loyalty is a two-way street

| Updated on June 13, 2014


All the points I had accrued in a departmental store’s loyalty programme lapsed recently. The staff had stopped telling me at each sale, I had not shopped there recently and had forgotten to keep tabs on it. In all these years, this had never happened.

“But why did you not tell me?” I demanded. “We don’t have your mobile number,” they said. They “sent me an email” (never seen one from them in all these years) and the landline number I provided “was not working”. It would not. I became a member of their programme in the late ’90s or early 2000s, before my number turned into an eight-digit one. A more aware customer service executive would have known to attach 2 to the number before he or she called me.

I also realised I had not got the usual birthday discount coupon this year. They claimed they had emailed me about that too. I recorded my protest on the feedback form but I haven’t heard from them – I am sure they will tell me they have replied on email.

I still haven’t complained on the Web site as they recommended. I believe nothing will be done unless I tell them I work for this newspaper and ask someone from their organisation to intervene. That has how it has been for various other complaints I have made about products and services.

I have a few more questions. Why did the store discontinue telling me about my points whenever I made a purchase? The staff at the checkout counter are always asking us about whether we want to be a loyalty club member or donate some money to their favourite charity, so why not this? Why did the staff never ask me for my mobile number to update it on the database? Why did they not (snail) mail me a note when they had my address? Isn’t loyalty earned? Isn’t it a two-way street?

Moral of the story, and some more:

1) Read the fine print about inactivity and expiry rules. Take time to understand what they mean. Keep asking the staff about your points.

2) Do not accumulate miles and points if the money you spend is more than what the reward may be worth.

3) Make sure you compare prices at other places even if your loyalty provider is offering some incentive – prices elsewhere could be lower.

4) Carry your loyalty card with you, some stores do not add points or redeem them without it.

I have written more about this experience here. Read it to discover more, including an expert’s pointers on things to watch out for in loyalty programmes.

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Published on June 13, 2014
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