The power of loy­alty cards

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Rid­dle-me-this dear reader: What have your wal­let and mine got in com­mon?

No, not a Fly­Buys card – I am one of the few dirty hold-outs re­fus­ing pig-head­edly to carry one.

No, not great wads of cash. I am prac­ti­cally a cash­less unit th­ese days and would make a fairly poor tar­get for a mug­ger.

It is the Onecard is­sued to me by su­per­mar­ket op­er­a­tor Count­down.

I didn’t want it. Two of my great­est ir­ri­tants are com­pa­nies forc­ing me to carry dis­count cards, and the as­sault on the senses from gar­ish spe­cial of­fer signs on shop shelves.

Both my eyes and wal­let are strain­ing from the ef­fort im­posed on me.

Ev­ery time I pull out my Onecard, I think fondly of the other big su­per­mar­ket com­peti­tor, Pak ’ n Save, who seems to just charge me less with­out mess­ing around with dis­counts via loy­alty cards, and my favourite book­shop Time Out in Mt Eden, whose com­put­erised loy­alty pro­gramme gives me dis­counts with­out me hav­ing to carry a card.

I carry the Onecard be­cause I am the weekly gro­cery shop­per more of­ten than not, and per­haps one week in three I do so at a Count­down.

I buy pretty much the same thing each shop and hav­ing a Onecard au­to­mat­i­cally gains me any dis­counts on what I buy.

On oc­ca­sion, there might be a price so good on some­thing I reg­u­larly buy, that I stock up a bit.

An­other rea­son I carry the card is that for ev­ery $2000 I spend, Count­down sends out a $15 voucher.

Ob­vi­ously I take the money on of­fer though each time I think it would just be eas­ier for ev­ery­one if Count­down charged $15 less in the first place.

But now I am faced with a new dilemma.

Count­down wants me to swap my Onecard for a Onecard Visa credit card. It wouldn’t mean a fat­ter wal­let, be­cause the credit card would sim­ply re­place my ex­ist­ing Onecard.

And it would mean that I get dou­ble the re­wards points, so, as­sum­ing I con­tinue to spend around $200 a week (I know, I should cut down on the beer) and I spend it all at Count­down, I’d earn an­nu­ally roughly $150 worth of vouch­ers ver­sus $75 I would get now.

But take off the $65 Onecard Visa fee each year and the ex­tra gain drops to just $10, and then there’s the one-off $48 ap­pli­ca­tion fee.

Also, I am not sure I want a new line of credit. My ex­ist­ing bank credit card does me fine and I don’t need an ex­tra one.

And now I think about it, af­ter a decade as a cus­tomer, I would sus­pect Count­down knows more about my shop­ping habits than my wife.

They know, for in­stance, that when I nip in to the one near work to pick up milk, I of­ten buy a salami pack to eat on the way home.

And yet, de­spite know­ing what a de­pend­able crea­ture I am, the Onecard Visa of­fers me no spe­cial favours.

I know a dis­counted in­ter­est rate would be aca­demic as my house­hold pays off its credit card bal­ance each month, but it would show me how much they loved me.

One fi­nal word. Peo­ple aren’t to­tally ra­tio­nal when it comes to spend­ing.

One of my guid­ing be­liefs is that re­tail­ers want us to carry their re­wards cards be­cause it gives them the power to mod­ify our be­hav­iour. I reckon what­ever value we get from them is less than they get from is­su­ing them.

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