Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Consumer Rant Wednesday

What is it with rewards/savings cards? I swung by the nearby drugstore, CVS, needing to pick up detergent, and couldn't find the last of 3 savings cards I used to have in my posession. I think I gave out work numbers or fake numbers, so nothing came up in their system. I ended up filling out a new form for new savings cards (the detergent was $4.95 with the card; almost $9 without). I put down the address of my old work building, because I get tons of junk mail in my mailbox, as it is. I don't need more. I end up sifting through snail mail spam, to make sure legitimate, important mail doesn't get lost amidst the newspaper type ads.

So, anyway, what is it with all these grocery stores that seem to basically extort you into signing up for one of their stupid rewards cards, just so you can get (what I think) is the actual normal price? I really don't know how the system works, so if anyone can clue me in, I'd be grateful. Am I wrong to be so irked? When did stores start doing this? It wasn't always so.

My feelings are reflected by this shopper in Ohio:
I do not like these "savings cards," mainly for one reason. I've noticed that the stores that use them raised their prices so that the "sale" price with the card is what the regular prices used to be before they started using the cards. So in reality, you are getting the regular price instead of a high price (i.e. some thing that used to cost $5.00 with out the card now cost as much with it and $7.00 with out). Where are the savings at? So what's the point of stores using these cards other than as an excuse to make more money by raising thier prices? -Anonymous in Ohio 5/7/01

Is Anon and myself out of line for feeling so jaded, gypped, and extorted? I don't mind giving out a certain amount of personal information, so that they can better serve their customers; but no on giving out my phone number and address!

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Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Ok, so Google remains a "best friend". Got some answers.

Yay for Albertson's:

Because of advancing technology, loyalty cards allow retailers to gather data and tailor products to regular shoppers.

About 50 percent of food retailers offer loyalty programs, according to FMI's 2006 The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report.

And more than nine in 10 shoppers (92 percent) use the cards at least once a month, according to FMI's 2006 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends.

But the power of the cards perhaps was lost when shoppers began carrying cards for every retailer.

Yup. I hate having to fill my wallet with a card for every freakin' place I might happen to shop at. And those cards are ugly as all hell hanging from my keychain.

A novelty? Why not put the rewards card bar code on something other than a card? How about an attractive keychain that the cashier can scan? Something that everyone won't mind having as a keychain?

There was no reason to consolidate your business and show loyalty to only one store, said Bill Bishop, chairman of Willard Bishop LLC and a consultant for FMI.

He said that the cards originally were used for one of two things: learning more about customers and their needs and to reward shoppers.

Times are changing, though, and it seems that while some retailers are gaining insight from the cards, others aren't reaping any benefits.

"Everybody isn't going in the same direction," Bishop said. "Well- regarded companies are sticking with it and others say it doesn't make sense with our strategy."

Some retailers are using the data to draw attention to items that they know are popular, he said. Others are using branded coupons available via their Web sites and e-mail, or through a kiosk in the store, which allows consumers to scan their cards and receive a specialized set of promotions.

But any type of promotion requires an investment and discipline, and if the retailer isn't careful, it can be just an added cost.

So, how will customers respond if a card they carry with them everywhere is taken away?

The possible answers to that question were enough to convince Albertson's to ditch the card program in conjunction with a new marketing campaign.

Signage will be placed in each store featuring the slogan, "With no card, saving money is a great deal easier."

"The signage in the store will still indicate the regular price and the great deal price," Wilcox said. And each customer's receipt will still list the savings and tabulate the savings at the bottom.

The new "No Card, No Hassle" shopping experience is in effect at the 32 Albertson's stores in Colorado, along with the eight Albertson's stores in Casper, Cody, Laramie, Sheridan, Cheyenne, and Gillette, Wyo; and one store each in Scottsbluff, Neb.; and Rapid City, S.D.

Each store has tables manned by an associate where customers can return their preferred savings card and receive a coupon for one free item.

Although the benefits of the cards are debated among retailer grocers, another industry has decided to join the bandwagon.

"The grocery stores, the drug stores and electronics had all tried it," said Kris Smith, regional marketing manager for Arby's. "But nobody in fast food had."

The program is not exactly the same, but it is does add another card to consumers' key chains.

The Arby's card is considered a portable coupon that you don't have to worry about expiring. It is available in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota.

"With a large family like I have, I'm in my car 95 percent of a regular day and my keys are the one thing I always have," Smith said.

The discount card is ideal for customers who always forget coupons. It has helped drive traffic counts, and the sales have been phenomenal, she said.

"We will look to do another round of cards either just for our region or expand to companywide," Smith said. "That is the hope that is what they are investigating, whether it is something we should be doing on a national level, corporatewide."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 7:45:00 PM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

I was in Ralph's supermarket the other day. The woman in front of me, Mrs. Munoz, had a store card and a stack of coupons. She save $45 and paid $8. When it was my turn, I paid full price and the cashier asked if that was all I needed. I said, "No. I need Mrs. Munoz to show how to pay 8 bucks for 53 bucks worth of stuff." The lady behind me laughed and agreed.

I personally hate the cards. I've a card for Albertson's, a card for Von's, a card for Ralph's... why can't these guys get together and issue one card for all? They could call it Ralph von Albertson.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I don't use cards, I refuse to carry extra crap in my wallet or my car. I pay what I pay. I don't sign up for anything, I don't give my name or address or e-mail to any retailer, I don't shop at Radio Shack anymore precisely because of their intrusion. I don't pay bills over the internet. I write checks to pay my bills. A sufficient number of people have enough information on me already.


Thursday, August 14, 2008 6:00:00 AM  
Blogger Z said...

Indigo DID she do that? I shop at Ralph's, too! TELL ME!!

Wordsmith, do you mean that Ralph's card? ..the one where they discount a little when you're checking out, or some other type of card??

Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I use the cards from the grocery stores. I've been brainwashed to believe I save money. I do get a discount at the gas pump at Kroger with their card, so I fill the car there. They use the cards to track purchases, too. For instance, Kroger sends me books of coupons for items I've purchased frequently.

It kinda creeps me out but I do think I save money.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 6:48:00 PM  
Blogger Z said...

karen, that would creep ME out, too. BIG BROTHER AT THE GROCERY STORE!

still wondering what the 'cards' are...what am I missing, Wordsmith?

Friday, August 15, 2008 8:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I'm like BZ. I don't use cards either. I do use coupons and shop for sales. It's old fashioned, but hey, it works for me. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

I use a card at one grocery store and not in another. I know one of the cashiers at the one I don't have a card at and she scans the cashier card in for me but usually it doesn't knock anything off the price so I don't bother at that store.

The Giant Food store however is a different story. They have a lot of buy one get one free sales every week and that's how I buy my meat. I usually buy enough meat say, hamburger or chicken to last me for a few months with the buy one get one free. I find two big packages and take it all home and freeze it in single portions.

The other store is a higher end store called Wegman's. I buy certain items there that Giant doesn't carry like Kosher Hot dogs some Italian cheeses and my breakfast cereals. They are actually cheaper there without the card than the other store with the card.

I don't know but that one store is the only discount card I have. I don't like giving my information out either but to get 6 pounds of chicken for the price of three, well, call me crazy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

My apologies for not replying to the comments. My computer is down again. This time, I think it has something to do with an ITunes update (I don't even use ITunes). I think my troubles started ever since I've been getting these Apples software updates.

I have a few posting drafts, but for the most part, until I figure this out, posting will be slim to nonexistent.

I'm on the work computer right now.

They could call it Ralph von Albertson.



I don't put down my real info either; I hate places that ask for social security, as if that were ever meant to be used as an ID number by retail. I often end up not making purchases if I don't have a card, knowing I'm paying far too much for the non-card price.

z, Yes, I mean Ralph-type cards, that are free, but requires registering for.


I used to use coupons from the Sunday paper, but since I no longer get printed newspapers, I no longer collect 'em to use. But yeah, you do save bucks that way.

I saved $3 on lithium batteries yesterday, because I noticed the sign that mentioned there was a coupon in the drugstore's coupon book. The cashier helped me locate it when I went to make my purchase.


Sometimes the cashiers can be nice enough to scan their card for you. Always a plus.

Saturday, August 16, 2008 3:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Good luck with your computer, Wordsmith.

I only get the local paper which is a liberal rag that is only published once a week. It's about 8 pages thick. I buy it for the coupons and use the rest of it to line the kitty litter box. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008 5:37:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks, gayle. Taking it between work this afternoon.

Monday, August 18, 2008 8:46:00 AM  

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