Don’t be fooled by the spin Sign up to the schemes But try to avoid being influenced
audience forgets about the thorns.
This was long the case for the pernicious electricity prompt payment discounts.
Positive language obscured the reality that these discounts are in reality disguised (and extraordinarily high) late penalty fees.
Perhaps worse, they are a tool which powerful companies can use to stifle competition.
One of my friends just threatened to switch power provider, but stayed when offered an extra boost to their prompt payment discount.
The thorns in the fuel rewards schemes are perhaps less prickly than in the electricity sector’s, but I am tired of businesses’ ever-increasing tendency to occupy my time, and intrude on my life.
Rewards schemes (sorry, I mean penalty price avoidance schemes) are designed to capture your data, open a direct marketing channel to you, and bamboozle you into thinking you’re getting special treatment so you become a loyal customer.
Really, you aren’t getting special treatment.
The petrol rewards are now claimed by the majority of customers.
The discount price is the normal price.
It would be wrong to single out the petrol retailers.
Supermarket ‘‘specials’’ and the off/on ‘‘sales’’ at big-name shops strike me as similarly hollow consumer-bewildering linguistic trickery.
Industries such as car sales and real estate have also had tens of thousands of professionals working for decades to hone the language and strategies that sell.
And some other retailers use penalty pricing for customers who refuse to sign up to their ‘‘membership’’ schemes.
Rewards schemes tend to favour people from higherincome families like mine, so I guess I should be grateful.
But honestly, they are a boring and complex pain in the neck, and an attempt by businesses to manipulate us.
So, sure, sign up for the ‘‘rewards’’, ‘‘discounts’’ and ‘‘memberships’’, but see them for what they really are.
They may have started out as something positive, but these days they are the hoops you have to jump through just to be allowed to pay a retailer’s ordinary price for something.
Family fuel bills are making life hard for many.