Last week I was sitting in my office, ignoring emails and generally shirking my responsibilities as an employee, when my state of torpor was rudely interrupted by a phone call. Perhaps it was because the connection was bad, or maybe I don’t listen very well when I first wake up, but when the caller mentioned something about a rewards programme I was thrilled.
I belong to a few reward and loyalty programmes and thought that I’d won a prize or been upgraded to the next level. But no. Apparently, I was selected to join some or the other new loyalty scheme. As a rule, whenever someone phones you and claims that you have been selected for something, it means an unscrupulous person has passed your contact details on to telemarketers.
Three in one
I first began to realise that rewards schemes are not all they cracked up to be about four or five years ago. I looked through bank statements and saw that I was paying for three programmes, but was only occasionally using benefits from one. And then I began to look over what I got from each scheme.
Sure, the cash back for healthy food choices and travel benefits will always be useful, but I had three separate movie cards from three different programmes. And I hardly ever go to the cinema. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going, I do, it’s just that I become filled with apoplectic rage when I am trying to watch a movie while some texting teens giggle as they message other teens in another cinema.
If I do go to movies, I usually choose three-hour dramas or age-restricted movies where there is much disemboweling. It’s not that I like to torture myself or watch others being tortured; it’s just that these types of flicks are usually teen-free.
The lie about the lunch
Recently, a rather pushy salesman showed up in our office park with reward cards for a restaurant. Pay R100 for R400-worth of food on Wednesdays; get up to 40% off when you spend R300 or more; half price meals on Mondays. Each offer seemed better than the next.
In the end there were two off-putting factors. Firstly, I take my own lunch to work. I would not be saving money at all. In fact, I’d be spending more because I’d be buying lunch from a restaurant I seldom go to.
Secondly, I don’t enjoy being badgered and I hate it when salespeople try to convince me to buy something. The more adamant the salesperson, the less likely I am to make a purchase.
My advice? Read the fine print when you sign up for a reward or loyalty scheme. If, like at a pet store I sometimes go to, you have to spend thousands on cat food to get R100 off, there is little reason to be loyal.