Loyalty programs are designed to encourage customers to keep buying from the same suppliers.
Surely, Canadian Tire money was the first.
Now, every airline, every gasoline company, drug stores, department stores, you name it, has a ‘frequent buyer card’ of some sort.
And the Air Miles card works in a wide variety of companies and industries.
These loyalty programs don’t really work, in my opinion, because you tend to sign up for them all, and accumulate points on them all.
The choice of which brand you buy, especially gasoline, is usually more a matter of convenience - who’s closest? - than any deeply-held brand devotion.
OK, some companies in some industries do become favourites. I honestly believe that, day in day out, Air Canada is the best airline in the sky, so I fly with them every chance I get - and accumulate those Aeroplan points.
And, I have every gasoline card you can get (except ESSO - they do have one, but I can earn Aeroplan points instead, so I go that route…) and figure there isn’t really much if any difference in the products, brand to brand.
But I do wish the gasoline companies would get together on how to use these cards.
Most gas pumps now accept your credit card right at the pump. Very convenient.
But some (Petro-Canada, e.g,) require you to put the customer loyalty card in first, then the credit card; others (ESSO again, e.g.) require you to swipe the credit card first, then the loyalty card.
Fail to do it in the right sequence, and the transaction will be canceled. If you screw it up more than once, you might be in deep do-do, because sometimes if you try to use the same credit card more than once in a short period of time, the pump will refuse to accept it because it assumes you’re up to some skulduggery.
Personally, I couldn’t care less which card goes in first. Frankly, loyalty and credit cards are different enough, and the pumps should be smart enough, that it shouldn’t matter.
But apparently, it does.
Is it asking too much that the gasoline companies would get together and agree on one way or the other?
Yeah, it probably is.