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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 1 July 2013

Loyalty: at what price?

How loyal are you to a business--local, national or global--that`s been good to you?

And if you run a company--how much do you reward your customers for sticking with you?

I needed a Sunday morning hair appointment yesterday. And because I`d left it late, the hairdresser`s I`ve supported and raved about for twenty years, couldn`t do it. So I rang around and landed a slot with one on the other side of town. And as I waited outside  for them to open, I realised I was standing in full view of my regular hair stylist`s flat. And do you know--I felt so guilty, I ducked into a shop doorway. Yes, really.

As I left the salon, they asked if I`d like to book again, and presented me with a loyalty card .They were great, but they`re not Brown`s, and that`s where I`ll be returning; because we know each other, and it feels like such a treat to be there.

I realised I have loyalty cards for four independent coffee shops in Shrewsbury, and the one on the A49 near Church Stretton. I`ve got some unused points with American Airlines, and I think I had a Tesco card once. I tell the cashiers at Boot`s that I`ll take my receipts home for my daughters` cards, then I lose them. Oh and I`ve just found one for Waterstone`s.

So. Am I missing out? Does it `pay` to be loyal? And who uses what?

Here`s what a quick straw poll on Twitter yielded this morning:

Sarah and Nita make the most of Boots points--In Nita`s case, `enough for Chanel`.Sarah, also gets 25 per cent off every fifth treatment at her beauty therapist/spa--which she views as a `nice little perk`. Sarah`s the kind of customer Dave Courteen tries to attract at Imagine Spa-they`re now about to launch an app to reward loyalty points via phones.

Dave Wright says he has frequent flyer and hotel chain loyalty cards--`some good, others less so`. But he still uses them for upgrades and weekends away.

Phil says he values,and uses regularly, cards for Tesco and Odeon , but has decided to dump the `faded, creased `ones he`s collected from coffee shops.`And,` he says, `have you done the maths on a Costa card to calculate how much you spend to get a free coffee? I did. It was ludicrous.`

It`s not deterring Shona or Helen, though--both mentioned their Costa cards--though Helen admitted that while they make you feel good, `they don`t equate to much in real terms.`

And then there`s reverse psychology--sort of. Dave Rhodes is in Leeds. He`s seen independent coffee shops there and in London offering a `disloyalty` card--you collect a stamp from each location for a free brew--and ignore the chains.

Love or hate Tesco, my friend Jo swears by their points scheme, and has boasted about the airmiles she`s managed to accrue. Great--but I don`t want to be tied to that, or any other supermarket, really.

And as far as independent coffee shops in Shrewsbury go--we`re completely spoilt for choice. But I`ll always return--free coffee or not-- if I`ve felt welcomed and valued as a customer, if the coffee`s good (and there`s a decent variety of cakes..!)...and if I feel just as comfortable on my own, or meeting friends. And whatever kind of business it is--if it`s new, and it`s trying really hard in a crowded market, I`ll be back, and I`ll spread the word.

PS: the way..the other reason I was thinking about `loyalty` was that the number of page views on my blog went past 20,000 today...that`s since I started just over a year ago. I`m really if you`re one of the readers who`s been loyal...or even dropped in more than once....thankyou....Please feel free to leave a comment, or just say hello. I`d love to know where in the world you are, and how you got here! In the meantime....let me stamp your card :)


  1. The purpose of loyalty cards is stealth marketing. Once the companies have your name, address, email and any other details you care to give them, they can then marry up your bank card number and the names of the products you buy, and this information is sold to huge data mining companies, who then sell your details to anyone they want to in order to send you marketing junk mail, e- and otherwise, and even invade your Facebook page with it (one of the main purposes of FB is also data mining - you know when you 'like' all these products/). This is worth a hell more to the companies than those few pence they give you back off a few products!

    You may say, what does it matter? But I only share the minimum of personal stuff on FB and never use loyalty cards as I see it as an invasion of privacy. Also, you never know what else all this information is being used for.

    Sorry to brighten up your morning...!

  2. ps, I do realise it can different with your local, small shops, but maybe not in all cases...

  3. I use a Tescos loyalty card and convert the points to Prezzo and Cafe Rouge vouchers. We have enjoyed many a free meal on Tescos!