Who Really Benefits in Reward Programs?

Back in 2013, I wrote a post about my disdain for “reward” cards. I was reminded today why I still don’t like this marketing approach and I question in this day and age why so many of us are willing to have our buying habits monitored.

Since my last post on this subject, another trend has emerged. The “if you don’t participate in our rewards program we are going to charge you more” approach.

It was one thing to not get the “perks” associated with your purchases, now stores are charging you more if you don’t sign-up for their program.

That right there should tell you how valuable it is to these companies to monitor your buying habits. It is a very bold statement. You either give us your personal information or you pay more.

I had to make that decision today. Pay more, or sign-up. I paid more.

After discovering I was a victim of identity theft, I am no longer comfortable participating in these programs, and have not signed-up for any new reward programs since.

I have grown tired of everything having this caveat of participating in a program. I don’t want to participate in any program, I just want to buy what I want to buy at the best price possible.

As consumers, we don’t seem to accept this approach. We want to feel like we are getting a deal and enjoy reveling in knowing that some sucker paid more than we did for the same item, and if it means signing-up for a program, we will do it.

Reward cards are an invited invasion of privacy, not to mention they are a hassle to the consumer, turning the easiest of errands into a series of complex steps.

Let’s start with the hunt before you go to the store.

The bulk of reward programs come with a card that you get to make sure you don’t lose. Hopefully, the card is on your keychain. If not, you get to tear your house apart looking for that little laminated piece. And whatever you do, don’t grab the wrong key set. Then you get to either bypass your rewards accumulation, or you get to try the “15” phone numbers that the card could be registered under.

Then at the store you have to think about what rewards you have accumulated and what you can buy with them. If you don’t participate in the rewards program, then you have to try and figure what price you get to pay.

It usually looks something like this:



At checkout, you are immediately asked if you have the reward program card. If you don’t have the card you are asked to sign-up for one. And, if you graciously decline, you get to repeat saying no thank you to the cashier's “top ten” reasons why you need one.

Companies large and small have demonstrated that they are not capable of protecting our information; therefore they have a responsibility to not put consumers in a position where we need to furnish our personal information in order to pay a lower cost. It’s too high a price to pay for the consumer.

P.S. I don’t want to hunt for 15 minutes for your promo code either. 

photo by osseous