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Do you know how to play the loyalty card game?

loyalty cards

Nine out of ten of us has at least one loyalty card, but are they a plastic menace or a golden ticket for those dedicated to reaping their rewards?

It’s time to own up. Until I started my research and surveying members months ago, I was one of the 7% without a loyalty card, but now I’m becoming an aficionado.

I remember getting a real buzz as a child, sticking Green Shield stamps into a book for my mum, and this feels a bit similar.

Because, the truth is that to really see the benefit of most of these cards you need to put a fair bit of time and effort into playing the loyalty game.

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts:

Do’s

  • Shop at the optimum time. For example, stock up when Boots has a mega Advantage Card points weekend (spend over £50), or gives you a double points voucher and has the products you need on a three-for-two offer.
  • Research loyalty scheme partners that make your points go furthest. For instance, some Tesco Clubcard partners, such as Hilton and Mercure Hotels, Hampton Court Palace and the Eden Project,  offer two to four times the face value of Clubcard vouchers. Check the company’s own offers as you often can’t combine them.
  • Get points when you’d use partners anyway. If you buy white goods at Curry’s, why not get Nectar points at the same time?
  • Combine discounts. For example, get a double discount when your myWaitrose Pick Your Own choice (20% off) is also on multi-buy.

Don’ts

  • Don’t let points expire. Most points expire in one to two years on unused accounts. The bigger loyalty schemes can convert unwanted points to charity.
  • Don’t let loyalty cards change your loyalties. For example, a myWaitrose Pick Your Own offer gives 20% off a 130g bag of wild rocket (mixed leaf) salad, taking the price from £1.99 down to £1.59. But if you usually shop in Asda, a similar 120g bag of watercress, spinach and rocket salad is £1 without any discounts.

Card task

Of course, with every loyalty card success comes frustration in equal measure.

I booked a Virgin East Coast Trains journey in January using my Nectar card with the promise that I’d accrue 1,000 Nectar points in the process.

Believe me, it took some doing, so where are those promised points now? I’ve seen hide nor hair of them. In my heart of hearts, I know there was probably something I missed – likely in the terms and conditions.

Then there was the time when I thought I’d get that mega-discount on hugely expensive electric toothbrush heads in Boots, but they were excluded from the dental promotion.

As for myWaitrose points – can I really be bothered to search for the right pack size and product to get the benefit of its Pick Your Own 20% discount on ten products? Or will I feel robbed if I don’t?

How do you feel about loyalty cards? Scourge or cash cow? And, if you’re an aficionado, what tips and tricks have you picked up on your plastic-fantastic journey?

Comments
Profile photo of alfa
Member

The only ones I get any real benefit from are Boots, Holland & Barrett and Nero Coffee.

Why? Because I don’t have to go to extraordinary lengths to use them. H&B even look you up if you forget your card so you don’t miss out on spending or receiving your points.

MyWaitrose is too much hassle. I could only find 8 out of 10 items that I would buy on a regular basis, and now have been told I have to choose again.

M&S Sparks is also hassle. I logged in to find out I had missed 3 promotions and to wait for the next one. What is the point? I don’t shop there often enough to be bothered with it.

Nectar is also hassle. If they are going to give you extra points for shopping in Sainsbury’s then give them. Why make us jump through hoops to add the promotion to your card?

Loyalty should work both ways. If they want our loyalty, then stop making us jump through hoops for it.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I also find them too much of a faff. They [and account cards] seem designed to let the retailer bombard you with daily drivel, Waitrose in particular and M&S not far behind. We only use Waitrose occasionally, don’t seem to have a card although we are registered and have a ref. no., and can’t be bothered to work out how to get any advantage from the promotions without buying things we don’t want [which, obviously, is the second purpose of these cards].

The Tesco Clubcard seems to be the most useful as we get points from our energy supplier as well as points on our shopping so every month we get £5-£6 worth of vouchers that can be spent in Tesco just like cash. This is simple and straightforward. Nectar isn’t bad although we only use it in Sainsbury’s, BP and Homebase and the points can easily be converted into money off our shopping, but I do not understand why, every time we go through the checkout in Sainsbury’s, we end up with a handful of bits of paper with an inconsistent array of offers on things we have just stocked up on and won’t be needing more of before the coupons expire. We invariably forget to take these vouchers with us when we go out so they never get used; if everyone used them to the max then they would surely be scrapped so hopefully some people benefit from the scheme but it seems very cumbersome for so little commercial benefit and the entire cost of the extensive Nectar operation goes on our bills somewhere.

The loyalty card we are most baffled by is the M&S Sparks card. We have had one since it was launched but have yet to find anything within their complicated promotion system with specified products, limited timings, etc, that suits our needs at the time they are offered. Being thirty miles away does not help but the main problem seems to be that the promotions do not relate in any way to the things we have bought, or might want to buy, in M&S. So we have accumulated tens of thousands of points but have nothing to show for it! It seems to me to be a stock-shifting exercise and not tailored to our ages or tastes in clothes or anything else.

With all stores, we buy things when we need to and not when the retailer would like us to. If the points do not convert into spending money on anything in the store over a reasonable timescale then they are useless and we can do without the ludicrous e-mails. I sometimes wonder what the administration cost of all these schemes is and how much it is adding to the price of goods. Perhaps these are deemed to be customer benefits that big companies are constantly being exhorted to put forward as part of their consumer engagement policies and corporate social responsibility programmes!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

John – I registered for a Tesco Clubcard when they were launched. Soon after I received a phone call from the one of their staff and I made it quite clear that I did not want any more nuisance calls from them. Since then, I believe that all I have received is a points statement with vouchers every two or three months.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Tesco leave us alone as well, I am pleased to report. There have been no e-mails or phone calls since I had the card and the only thing we get now is the monthly vouchers and statement. They have cut out some of their confusing refund schemes and stopped giving discount vouchers against specific products, so in my view the Clubcard is the model loyalty card. Their remaining promotion, the brand price guarantee, is useful for the pennies it returns from time to time but it is really an admission of their failure to compete against the other major supermarkets and I think it only works if you buy ten or more branded [not own-label] products – I’m not sure; I take the money and run.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

I Totally agree with everything you have written. It used to be seen as a way of creating the “feel good factor”: the benevolent shop giving its loyal customers a reward for shopping at their store. Green Shield Stamps began the craze, but rewarding It never was, and is never even more “was”, now, since, as you rightly say, the offers are mostly useless in stock or expiry dates. Taken seriously, they annoy more than they promote, and taken frivolously, they end up in the bin. Tesco has almost halved the dividend on their loyalty card and mine coughs up far less each quarter as a result. I earn a few pence each month on my Club Card Plus balance and about three pounds a quarter on my Shell card, which cost me nothing except what I lose by paying more for the fuel. You really can’t win and I agree that this particular con wastes resources and does nothing for the consumer. Yet there are those with enough time to scour the world for coupons and who derive great satisfaction when they get a two pizzas for the price of one.

Member
Gordon Eden says:
16 February 2017

I shop where the price is best and make no reference whatsoever to the “loyalty cards”. These cards are a rip-off really to get you to shop in their store. You may gain some small benefit but if you take the trouble to shop around then that benefit is cancelled out by prices being cheaper elsewhere. The truth is that I cannot be bothered to mess about with them, and if I receive any such literature in the post they go straight in the recycling bin. I have too much else in life than to concern myself with loyalty cards. Rant over!

Member

Loyalty cards do not make the slightest difference to me at the end of the day its all about price, anyone or any store that tries to rip me off with ridiculous prices simply does not get my custom.

Member
Susan says:
16 February 2017

We always use our Nectar card at Sainsburys where we do the weekly shop and normally buy petrol. We’ve redeemed points there for a big shop for example at Christmas or when we are having a party. I should add that we don’t go to Sainsburys because of Nectar – we just know and like their food. We have accumulated a lot of points at Boots Opticians and redeemed them against toiletries. We have several other cards but I don’t think they are worth bothering with for small amounts. M&S gave us a Sparks card but I don’t understand what it does.

I’m not sure whether frequent flyer schemes come under your description of loyalty cards but they are well worth using if you travel a lot, especially long-haul. I would avoid the British Airways scheme, but we have used miles in the Star Alliance several times for “free” tickets across the Atlantic – you just have to pay the tax.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I am glad I am not the only one for whom the Sparks card makes no sense.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

M&S Sparks card does a number of things. Every week or two it offers discounts on regular products – usually 4 to choose from 5 or 6. Often 20% off, on many things you’d normally buy – tea, coffee, bacon, sausage, chilled fish, bread…….M&S email offers and all you do is select the ones you might like. If you do then buy them in store the discount is applied. They also offer occasional events – we got free tickets and parking at the Countryfile Show at Blenheim Palace last year. And they took £5 off at the till as a recent birthday “gift”. Clothing offers also appear regularly. It costs you nothing, no minimum spend, what’s not to like?

Profile photo of alfa
Member

M&S must have read the comments here as I have just had an email for 20% off bonus offer.

I tried to use 20% off clothes a couple of months ago but my Sparks card wouldn’t give to me. Several members of staff tried to make it work, even got a dedicated hand set but seemed equally baffled by how it worked. Apparently I had to add the offer to my card, but was not able to do that either as I hadn’t spent enough and I got the impression new offers would appear when I had parted with enough dosh. That is when I noticed 3 missed promotions.

I did get a £5 birthday treat but have yet to spend it as M&S is a bit of a distance.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

What’s not to like about the Sparks Card, Malcolm, is the things they offer which would be out of place in our wardrobes, the short notice of their offers, the short duration of their offers, and their dreadful website. We never seem to be in Norwich when their 20% off-anything-type offers come up. Something I have not yet discovered is whether one has to use an M&S account card for purchases or can use cash or a debit card.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I see just now from an earlier post that you are perplexed about the ooo’s of points you accumulate. I’d suggest this is not the main point of the card; that is to give discounts off items you might normally buy – at least that is how it works for us. When new offers arrive we are notified by email.
The points you accumulate will be used to qualify for entry into draws for experience days and other events, but I wouldn’t rely too much on those although, as I said earlier, we got free tickets to a country show worth around £50.
We only normally use their food and household offers. Easy to select on the Sparks site and they last up to 2 weeks, use as many times as you like. They include the food we would normally buy. We have 2 cards – and the offers can differ. mrs r has household cleaning products (a bit sexist?), chocolate, canned meat, ice cream, fruit and veg. I haven’t seen my new ones yet. Even if you only need a couple of items they show a saving. Nothing to lose. We have a local M&S.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I appreciate your response, Malcolm. I have probably completely misunderstood the whole Sparks system. I get e-mails, click on the ‘See Offer’ button, but am not enthused by what I see. I think having a local M&S makes a big difference to uptake opportunities. We do relatively little food shopping in M&S. I expect the process is better for those who go round the store with their smart phone in their hand displaying the latest offers.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

You are right about its advantage to regular food shoppers. they have a shoppers screen in store that can display your current offers if you forget.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

The only time I tried to use the card, I went on the shoppers screen that showed no available offers even though I had an email telling me I had.

Perhaps their system doesn’t work as well as it should.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Did you enter your card number? (a pity you can’t just swipe it). That works in our store.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Yes we did Malcolm, will have to try it again some time.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Yesterday we saved £4 on stuff we would have bought anyway.

Member
JohnM2 says:
16 February 2017

Whilst some loyalty cards are worthwhile, if you shop in a wide range of outlets you end up with a wallet/purse bulging with large plastic cards. For a long time I have thought that it would be a good idea if someone could come up with a generic loyalty/membership card. Users could then register their membership of each scheme with the card administrator and just one card would need to be carried. I appreciate that this may not be as straightforward to implement as it sounds, but I would have thought that there could be some savings for the businesses – as well as reducing the number of unnecessary plastic cards being produced.

Member

I have a stack of cards – from Boots and Nectar to the odd Sparks card and Pets at Home. None of them make me shop in any of these stores, but if I happen to be there, and happen to want to buy good there, then I will.

The value to the customer of the different schemes seems variable, as others have mentioned. I don’t ‘get’ the Sparks card at all – seems to be no use at all to me, just one more piece of plastic to be swiped at the till. I’ve looked at the emails they send me but what they’re offering seems to have little relevance to my shopping habits or previous purchases.

Pets at Home is different as they’re offering £££ to charity depending how many points are collected by all their customers. And you get a magazine which has money off coupons – these are sometimes, but not always, useful.

P@H and H&B are handy in that if you’ve not got your card, you can just give a postcode or mobile number and you can still collect your points. The latter also offers money off future purchases.

I agree it is annoying to have so many cards to carry around – virtually one for every high street outlet, fuel station etc. In this world of ‘Smart’ it would be great if one card could work for all!

Profile photo of DeanWoon
Member

I shop at Sainsbury’s & as a result have been collecting Nectar points for a number of years. Every now & then (Usually near to Christmas) they have a “Double Up” promotion where your Nectar points are worth double their face value, this allows you to spend your points in any of their departments but they are limited to £20 doubled up per transaction in each department i.e. Kitchen, Homewear, clothing etc.

I save my points throughout the year & then wait for their Christmas promotion & am then able to buy all of my presents without spending a penny.

Nectar do send emails notifying you about their various promotions as do Sainsburys, these emails are easily cancelled by unsubscribing at the bottom of the email.

I understand that you can save money by shopping around in the various supermarkets & freezer centers but by the time I factor in the fuel cost to drive to each establishment plus the time to compare prices & keep ahead of the various promotions I would rather buy all my shopping & get my fuel from Sainsbury’s as it’s far less hassle & time consuming than chasing offers… plus I get my Nectar points so win win for me!!

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Slightly off-topic but not entirely as I am talking about something the same shape and size as loyalty cards………..

And that is store gift cards that look like loyalty/credit cards.

I hate them. I have quite a collection that people keep giving me for birthdays and Xmas and never seem to find anything I want when I go to spend them.

But there is nothing worse than going to spend one only to find it has no money left on it even though you have not spent it and what do you tell Aunty when she asks what you bought with her gift?

Why do they have an expiry date? I see it as despicable and theft by the store to take your money for nothing. The longer you keep them the less you are going to get for your money anyway, so there is absolutely no reason to put an expiry date on them.

I would much rather have paper gift vouchers. You can see exactly how much they are worth. They are also better for the environment as they are easy to recycle unlike plastic gift cards.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks for reminding me. I have a book token languishing in my wallet and forget I have it whenever I am in proximity to a bookshop.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I went through a drawer about 3 years ago and found £12 in book tokens. Last year I got £15 in Next vouchers. Unless I keep them about my person they’ll never get used. Yesterday I did use £25 in garden centre vouchers given to me a year ago – came across them by chance just as I was off to buy compost. Organisations must make a fortune out of these unused vouchers. The Daily Mail reports annual gift card sales in excess of £5 billion, with £300 million uncashed.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I am wary about gift vouchers. At one time I used credit card points to buy gift vouchers at a 10% discount. I forgot that I had £180 of Kingfisher vouchers, which had no expiry date, but when I tried to use them they were refused. Which? did look into this when I posted the tale on Which? Convo years ago. I now avoid buying gift vouchers and try to use ones that I receive as soon as possible.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@jpearl, I have just looked at the loyalty card article in March Which? mag. The M&S Sparks card is explained badly. You need to spend a certain amount to reach a threshold of points before benefits kick in. You then refer to “unlocking benefits to events or offers” but do not expand. Whilst there are events – you are invited into a draw – the main regular benefits are offers in store and online as discounts on products. In store this comes as regular emailed offers that can be chosen in food and household products, for 20% off tea, coffee, chilled fish, bread, cleaning products etc etc. These are real savings usually on products you would be buying anyway, and can take several pounds off a weekly shop. It would be useful to make this clear for a card that costs nothing. It is a true loyalty card in my book.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

M&S Sparks card – this week’s offers (to me, anyway):
20% off bacon, sausages, eggs, fresh kippers, fresh trout, olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Our shop this week would have included 5 of those items, offer or not, so what’s not to like? Any quantity, so you can put some in the freezer or on the shelf.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Your offers are rather better than mine malcolm.
20% off chilled pancakes, guilt free snacking, fresh jelly, fresh herbs or ice cream.
Not exactly enticing me to visit M&S as I am unlikely to ever buy 3 of those items.

In my account it says:
YOUR PREVIOUS OFFERS HAVE EXPIRED
Your offers have gone past their sell by date, but don’t worry. You have 2 available offer slots and 5 new offers to choose from.

What are offer slots?

Profile photo of alfa
Member

And now I realise that was a daft question. I had assumed I had 5 food offers but now realise I only get 2 of them.

Makes my offers even worse then. ☹

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

My Sparks offers are not particularly alluring either :

5 for 4 on fresh fruit , salad, and veg – but we are already fully stocked
20% off Viennese biscuits – not wanted, thank you
20% off fresh jelly – yuk
20% off ice cream – already have more than enough in the freezer awaiting better weather
20% off Colin the caterpillar sweets – not even on our wish list

Plus a “bonus” offer of 50p off some smoothies, but I can’t get this at our nearby BP station unlike the first five offers [subject to availability].

I remain convinced that it’s better to buy our food and other domestic provisions and commodities at our local Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores and get real money off our future shopping.

And, as Alfa says : What are offer slots?
M&S has a peculiar language all of its own like “Shop shoes”. Surely, it’s either “shop for shoes” or “buy shoes” isn’t it?
Another odd word they like to throw around is “Edit” used as a noun.
I thought I knew retailing . . . not now.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want, of course. Nothing lost. I don’t know on what basis offers are made but mrs r often gets different offers than do I, so if we need both we split the shopping between us. The card costs nothing so the offers are simply a potential bonus.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Don’t think we are favoured customers John as we obviously don’t spend enough money in M&S.

But if they think offers like that are going to entice us they need to think again.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I signed up for a Morrisons card when I moved home. To start with I was reluctant to use the store because it played music but often it is barely audible. Whereas Tesco has been sending me vouchers that can be used in their stores or online, I cannot remember receiving anything from Morrisons. The most useful loyalty card I have is a B&Q Diamond Card, which offers regular vouchers valid for a minimum spend. If I forget to take the vouchers into the store I find the email on my phone, display the barcode and scan it.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I think you’re right Alfa. We have just one Sparks card, in my name, but we both use it. I didn’t think we were heavy shoppers in M&S but seem to have accumulated over 25,000 points since the card was launched, which must count for something. Perhaps that is insignificant relative to the really big spenders. Perhaps frequency of using M&S is a more critical criterion.

As Malcolm says, the card costs nothing, so it’s worth what we paid for it.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Hadn’t thought about it before, but can you get your Sparks card swiped in BP? We do buy a few M&S things in there frequently. M&S do about the only decent dairy-free coleslaw that we regularly buy.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Our BP filling station has an integrated M&S Simply Food operation and will put points on your Sparks card. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I get the impression that it will apply the discount if you have selected any offers and added them to the card.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

As far as I am aware, Aldi and Lidl don’t have loyalty cards. Is this the way forward for supermarkets?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Personally, I would hope so. Running a loyalty card programme must cost a lot and I should be surprised if it is entirely profitable. I think most people would prefer straightforward honest pricing.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

That’s what I had in mind, and I get the impression that most people would prefer sensible prices to loyalty cards. What appeals to me about the supermarkets that I use is a wide selection of goods, plenty of parking and ancillary services such as ATMs, a filling station and pharmacy, and freedom from piped music. Loyalty cards just annoy me.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

This is a strange attitude to “loyalty” cards. People who claim, and complain, that loyalty no longer exists, and yet when people are rewarded for being loyal to a company that is also condemned. I suppose it depends whether you benefit from a loyalty scheme or not.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I complain – justifiably – if an insurance company does a price hike without obvious reason. For example if a car breakdown company wants to charge me more for renewal of cover than a new customer, that’s hardly showing loyalty.

The system used by Morrisons is so delightfully simple that I had not realised I had used it. You accumulate points and when they amount to £5 the cashier gives you a voucher that can be used immediately. I would still prefer that Morrisons would just reduce their prices.

Most Tesco vouchers are for products I have bought regularly but some are obviously intended to encourage me to try something new. Sorry Tesco but I’m not interested in your Ladies’ Clothing.

Profile photo of wessie
Member

With Sainsbury’s I use my Nectar card as a DIS-loyalty card.

I live close to a Sainsbury’s which has an Aldi across the road. My job takes me all over my county so I sometimes shop on the way home at where ever happens to be convenient for a top up.

Sainsbury’s are trying hard to convince me I need to shop in their store exclusively. The are sending me the most useful type of voucher: a simple cash discount if I spend over a certain amount. They have currently decided this amount is a £60 shop. In February I have had a £9 off £60 and a £12 off £60 sent to me. I have used both. I have now received a £12 off £60 in a specific week in March. Effectively, this 20% off is bringing Sainsbury’s prices down to Aldi levels with the extra choice you get in Sainsburys. If the vouchers stop coming I will mainly use Aldi and just buy a few items elsewhere that Aldi do not stock.
If you really want to stick the knife in to persuade the Nectar computer to spew out some coupons then get a Sainsbury’s credit card, then use this to earn Nectar points on your shopping in Aldi & Tesco.

Tesco used to do the same but the vouchers have dried up now. Not sure if they have abandoned this model or just decided I am not likely to become a regular customer as their stores are not conveniently located.

So, may these cards work for you, not the stores!

wessie

Member
terry says:
3 March 2017

Morrisons card is really good petrol station points as well as the shop even the petrol is cheaper

Profile photo of alfa
Member

@johnward
Have you looked at your latest M&S food offers?

Well done M&S if you have been reading the comments here and made the food offers worth having.

My latest offers:
20% off large Italian meals
5 for 4 on fresh fruit, salads and veg
20% off conserves, jams, marmalades & honey
20% off fresh dips
20% off bread loaves

This is a huge improvement on the previous offers although I can only choose 2 of them. Do you get more choices if you are a really good customer?

I can see how many sparks I have on the M&S website, but I can’t find where to see a record of how many sparks were added and when.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

We usually get 4 offers alfa. I normally pay, but mrs r gets the same number – not all the same offers as myself. So we may need to keep our shopping separate. This week they are a choice from cleaning products, organic meat, Swiss chocolate, pickles and Indian spices and sauces – 20% off.

There is currently a spate of “£5 off a £35 or more spend” vouchers; this may also require 2 transactions if you have more than one voucher.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Interesting, Alfa. I never look at the food offers because we are rarely in a position to take advantage of them and seldom see anything we want anyway. Unfortunately I deleted this week’s Sparks e-mail and then emptied the delete box so I cannot tell what we have forsaken. I could go on-line I suppose but can’t quite work up the motivation to do so somehow!

We do our main shop during the week so by the time the Sparks offers come through the fridge and the food cupboards are fully loaded. I shall look out for next week’s offers and see if there is any improvement in desirability. I have no idea whether people with more points get better offers; so far as I can see they bear no relation to our shopping choices.

It’s no good. I’ve fallen for it. My curiositty has got the better of me and I have just looked up my food offers: my “tailor made” offers this week, of which I can choose four, are –
20% off individual chocolate bars [we don’t buy chocolate]
20% off popcorn [ditto]
20% off individual pot desserts [a no-no]
20% off apples and pears [we already have loads]
20% bread loaves [same]

Not having tried them we might have been interested in the large Italian meals that are in your offer at 20% off but we clearly don’t qualify even though we buy Italian produce and ham when we do shop at Marks. I am not sure what the modern definition of “tailor made” is or why they bother. I note that I have over 25,000 sparks on my account; I now understand what they are for but have not received any viable opportunities yet.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Your offers are not as good as mine this time John. M&S certainly seem to have a very strange formula for ‘tailor made’ offers.

Don’t laugh, I have the grand total of 2036 sparks. Not realising it could be swiped at the BP garage have missed out on a fair few.

I chose the dips to add to the card yesterday and tried it out at BP. NO 20% discount. Came back and read the details they put on another page, and found out offers are not valid there. Why not M&S, most supermarket food at garages is dearer anyway, so why can’t we use our offers there as well?

Somehow, I don’t think we will catch up Malcolm and his offers.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I cannot imagine how we have accumulated so many Sparks on the card, but we have presented it at the till for every purchase since it was issued. I suspect a lot goes on in the ladies clothing departments and on-line that I don’t realise. My modest acquisitions would hardly move the needle on the gauge. We probably also run up a decent bill on groceries when we visit the Norwich store every few weeks.

I agree with you about being able to take up Sparks offers in the M&S shops at BP petrol stations. I suppose they are franchise operations and the whole point of the Sparks programme is to drag you into their stores and on-line so you do some heavy spending.

I expect they roll out the red carpet when Mr & Mrs R turn up. I hope he has cleaned his outdoor shoes after shifting all that Grade A cow manure in his garden.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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As far as I can see, the number of offers you get on your M&S Sparks card depends on the points you accumulate – 1 offer initially, 2 with 100, 3 with 6000 and 4 with 10000.

I do have more than one pair of shoes – from M&S – so can avoid shopping in the manuring ones. So far, plants are popping up through the manure and no sign of any weed infestation yet – but time will tell. I’ll let you know whether the Daisy Dollops has any beneficial effect. It is, as yet, ungraded.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Marginally allied to this topic, but has anyone else experienced a lessening of the Secure Code system that normally follows any card transaction with an online retailer?

Up to around December last year whenever we bought anything online we’d be taken to a Verified by Visa website where we’d be asked to input our secure code, to verify it was us making the transaction. From around New Year, I think it was, we still get taken to the Verified by Visa window but after a short thinking time it tells us ‘We do not require your secure code for this transaction’. I assumed this was because we do our main grocery shop online every Saturday for the delivery on Monday and they’d become used to the event. However, yesterday I placed a moderately expensive order with an online retailer with whom I’ve never dealt before and it still didn’t require the code.

Is it just us?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I have been experiencing this change in the process for some time now. I seem to recall reading an explanation that other controls were in place now [possibly linked to the website’s cookies perhaps?] obviating the need for the card-holder to enter a code based on their memorable information. It certainly happens with Visa credit and debit cards but I cannot remember whether the same process has been followed on a Mastercard card. I was a bit concerned at first but it has become routine now. I expect the need nowadays to enter the three-digit security number on the back of the card has superseded the code check on payment; the theory of that three-digit number is that it proves the user is holding the card at the time of the transaction but I remain unconvinced that is sufficiently reliable as penetrative hacking can expose such number formations and their relationship to account cards..

Profile photo of alfa
Member

I’ve also noticed. I actually dislike Verified by Visa as I have to reset my password every time I use it as I can never remember it and I think it needs to be in some format that I can never remember.

For that reason, I use AMEX whenever I can. I know security needs to be stepped up, but I just wish it didn’t involve yet another set of letters, numbers, capitals that I can never remember.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Alfa- on krebs online Ebay is trying to get him to stop using his two-stage business verification and use a one-off text sent code .Like him I think this is open to interception by some high power hackers , I dont keep any high security passwords on my PC as I know for a fact they can be got at instead I use the same as some internet security experts – –good old fashioned paper and pen (try hacking that !! ) Anything that makes it easier for the customer makes it easier for the hacker , remember GCHQ telling you to write simple passwords ? –and yes i have it archived -outside my PC . I can give instructions on the type of very secure passwords if anybody is interested ? Think Windows 10 “updates –then think on the LInux system I use it requires two -stage verification – I am supplied with full information on what is wanting to download and I also need to code accept it AND I am told before it starts what packages are being downloaded so if I find any advertising /tracking products I cancel the whole download .

Member
Enid says:
23 May 2017

I am getting tired of receiving offers for extra Nectar points when my shopping is delivered only to find that these offers do not apply to on-line shopping or petrol! As I am disabled and getting on in years so visiting large supermarkets to do my shopping is out of the question. (Similarly my daughter-in-law is in the same situation being registered blind with other physical difficulties). To us it seems that we are being the subject of discrimination. Come on Sainsburys and Nectar play fair with ALL your customers!