If This is How They Treat Their Best Customers…

I shop at a high-end retailer that has a loyalty program – for every $40 spent I get a card stamped and after 10 stamps I get a $40 credit toward my next purchase. Not a bad deal. I essentially get 10% back on every $400 spent. The problem is, they stick it to you with ridiculous rules.

First, you must spend $40 during each visit to the store in order to get credit for that purchase. If you only spend $30, for instance, then no credit and that $30 does not carry-over to next time. This rule is just unnecessary. I will spend the same amount of money over time or I won’t earn the credit, but why force me to spend more than I want to on any specific visit? Either way, they still don’t give me a $40 credit until I first spend $400, so why not let me earn it the way that works best for me?

Second, a completed card may only be redeemed on the next visit. I learned of this when my last purchase was $85. I needed one stamp to get my $40 credit. I asked if they could stamp me for the first $40 of my purchase and apply my $40 credit to the remaining $45. They said, “No, the card may only be redeemed on your next visit.” So, then I asked if I could split it into two purchases. Ring me up for $40, stamp my card, then ring me up for the remaining $45 and apply the credit. This time the “no” came before I even finished my thought – clearly they had heard it before. And, to make it even more silly, since my purchase was $85 and my current card only needed one more stamp, they completed my first card and had to start a second one for the stamp for the second $40 I spent (though no credit for the remaining $5, of course). Now I have two cards. One that’s full and taunting me until I go back to redeem it and one with a single stamp.

So, this is what they call a loyalty program, eh? I understand they want to get me back into the store and not redeeming my card until next time is a way to force that to happen. But, by the time I have a card full of ten $40 stamps, haven’t I already established myself as a repeat customer? It’s not like I’m going to spend $400 at their store just to get my $40 credit and never return. I’m not asking for anything more than they currently offer – $40 credit after $400 spent. Just don’t stick it to me with ridiculous rules designed to force me to shop more at a store where I have already established myself as a good, repeat customer.

Bottom line – loyalty programs are for our most loyal and valuable customers. They spend the most, return to us most often and provide powerful word-of-mouth (positive and negative). Let’s be sure to show them the appreciation, and treat them with the respect, they have earned.