By MIA FREEDMAN
No thanks, I do not want to join your loyalty program. No, I’m not a member of your discount club. No, I don’t currently collect points for your frequent buyer scheme. No, I’m not on your VIP list and I don’t want to be alerted when new stock comes in. No, I haven’t got a fly buys card. No. No thanks. No. I just want to pay you and take my new stuff home.
SHOPS, WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?
Remember when the extent of the conversation you had with a sales assistant was “Cash or charge?” The End.
Come back, those days. I miss you.
This week, I braved Westfield to do some Christmas shopping and returned home a shriveled husk. Utterly exhausted.
Not from looking for a parking spot for 30 minutes. Not from crowd surfing on escalators or stressing that my credit card was about to spontaneously combust.
Not even from staggering desperately around all four levels of the car park, pressing the unlock button on my key in the desperate hope that my lost car might flash its lights in response.
All of that is just how shopping rolls. Having done all that for decades, I’m extremely match fit. My retail endurance is high.
However there’s a new type of retail exhaustion and it’s caused by the relentless harassment of sales assistants to join their stupid loyalty programs. Wait, maybe they’re not deliberately harassing me. Maybe they’re just trying to be helpful but when you can’t even buy a bottle of shampoo anymore without someone asking, “Have you joined our Customer Discount Program?” and then immediately launching into a spiel about how it will change your life and save you so much money and all you need to do is fill out this form with your details blah blah blah, something has gone seriously wrong with the retail experience.
NO, I DO NOT HAVE ONE OF YOUR DISCOUNT CARDS AND I DO NOT WISH TO GIVE YOU MY NAME AND PHONE NUMBER BECAUSE I JUST WANT TO BUY THIS BOTTLE OF GODDAMN SHAMPOO AND NEVER EVER COME BACK.
My wallet overflows with loyalty cards because for years, I thought they were a good idea. Loyal? Yeah I’m loyal. Rewards? Sure! Discount program? Who doesn’t want a discount!
But recently, when I couldn’t close my wallet anymore, the madness became clear.
Around the same time, Channel 9 Finance Editor, Ross Greenwood called me about a news story he was putting together. He had also noticed the sharp rise in loyalty programs and that women in particular are suckers for them. “They weigh down wallets, take up mental space and deliver very little,” he says. “But I discovered some women are staunchly attached to these things. There’s genuine emotion when they describe their favourites.”