Consumerwatch: Customer loyalty programs
Published Monday, January 28, 2013 11:49AM CST
Last Updated Monday, January 28, 2013 1:17PM CST
Look in your wallet and chances are there's at least one card for a loyalty program tucked inside. From retailers to airlines, these programs offer discounts and promotions to its members, in return for their repeat business.
However, one woman says her loyalty card program might not be delivering on its promises.
Anna Echols is an avid moviegoer, so last year, she jumped at the chance to sign up for a SCENE card – a loyalty program run by Cineplex Odeon and Scotiabank.
She said that it’s paid off overall. “I’ve gotten $140 plus in free movies,” said Echols.
However, recently Echols said that the bonus points she earned never showed up. She was also emailed a promotion promising that if you saw three specific movies, you’d receive enough points for one free film. However, the first film – Anna Karenina – wasn’t even playing in Winnipeg.
“So our 760,000, or however many people and SCENE members here, can’t participate in this,” said Echols.
A spokesperson for SCENE says promotions are sent to members based on their movie preferences, demographic and location, but says sometimes movies just don’t make it to some markets.
The spokesperson said, “They opened in a limited fashion in two cities. Then the thinking would be that they would expand beyond that, and they have but in a much more limited fashion than was anticipated.”
A recent survey says 92 per cent of Canadians are members of at least one loyalty program, and on average Canadians carry more than six loyalty cards in their wallets.
Brent Smith, a marketing strategist at 6P Marketing, says he’s not surprised consumers expect something in return for their repeat business. “They know what the deal is and how these things work and they’re not going to pause for the extra two minutes and actually sign up unless they get the discount right on the spot,” he said.
Smith advises anyone joining a loyalty program to read the fine print, and to use the rewards right away, as programs have the ability to change their terms and conditions at any time.
Anna Echols says she will continue to see movies at Cineplex theatres, but that it leaves a sour taste in her mouth, and the SCENE program will only keep her loyalty if it follows through on its end of the bargain.
It did. The company contacted Echols, and ended up crediting her account with the bonus points for the movies that couldn’t be seen at Winnipeg’s Cineplex theatres.