Reward & Loyalty Cards – Going to Far

Loyalty CardIf you know me, you know well that I am always on the look out for a deal. Actually, maybe that needs a bit of clarification. I do not just go for any deal, but rather when I have decided what it is that I want and/or need in a given moment, usually with an amount of thought behind it in direct proportion to the cost, I am looking for the deal on that item. So, that being said, I have no problem with using some of the loyalty and/or reward cards out there to purchase those things that I am after, as I am usually getting a better deal. However, that being said I think the company’s are starting to go to far with these kind of cards, and I for one, am starting to question some of the usage.

Let me clarify. I am more than fine with they loyalty card they have the grocery store, though I personally question how much they really need to track my spending habits and such. On the other hand, I typically know well in advance when I am going to that particular store for grocery shopping and bring the card with me. It does irk me when I see the markup that would occur if I did not have the card with me and especially that gets me when I am out of my local area and use a different grocery. On the other hand, I get not only the low prices, but company sponsored deals that often result in totally free items.

Similarly, I have an account with a big department store. The account is accessible via my phone number and in theory, when I spend a few thousand with them, I can get some free stuff with my points. The thousand is apt to be easier than thought, as that store has a great line of tools that I really like and would be apt to be purchasing anyway.

But consider the case of a corner drug story I visited recently. It is, I note, part of a regional (maybe national) chain. On the other hand, I stopped by because the handy location that was a mere two or three blocks away from a large big box discount store, that in general I really do not care for. I expected the cost to be a slight bit more and was not surprised. On the other hand, the price that was a slight bit more was only available for holders of yet another loyalty card. I was there to get too specific, low-cost items, and odds are, will not be back except a similar semi-urgent need sometime out in the next year or so. Clearly not really worth my time or hassle of filling out an application and such to get the card, which I would be hard pressed to keep up with it anyway.

So, on my two items that I could have got just up the road a piece for around $5.00, it was going to cost just over that with the loyalty card. However, my lack of having it made the two items sum run just over $7.50.

What has this done to me as a customer in regards to that store and even that chain? I will remember that, and the future, when given the option between a discount big box store that I do not really care for, but who does not do stupid loyalty card discounts of around 33%, I will go that route. In fact, for the immediate future, given the choice, I will even drive out of my way a bit. In effect this means the loyalty card may keep the loyal shoppers, but in the case of the casual shopper, which I suspect is a good amount of the customers, they have just lost one.

I just do not get it anyway. I mean, if you can sell an item for $3.50 to one segment of your customers, why do you have to mark it up to $4.75 the balance of your customers? I know that some of those items may be what would be labeled ‘loss leaders’ – but the entire store inventory generally has such disparity in pricing between a regular price and loyalty price. Maybe, in the end, there is just some airline pricing logic in there somewhere.

** – Image by Myke Waddy and is in the Public Domain.