GETTING MORE TALE #650: Frequent Buyer
I heard through the grapevine* recently that my old store (“the Record Store”) are discontinuing their frequent buyer cards. These cards have a long, long history going back more than 25 years. First we offered free tapes and CDs – buy 10, get one free. Those were eventually phased out when we stopped carrying new tapes and CDs, but due to popular demand we added a free used CD card – buy 12, get one free.
Minimum wage just went up on the province of Ontario, to $14 an hour. In 2019, it will go up again, to $15 an hour. There is an election in six months, and the present provincial government is pulling out all the stops trying to appeal to young voters. Some restaurants are battling the wage increase by cutting hours, raising prices or cutting staff breaks. At the store any time wages went up, hours were cut and we reviewed what we were paying for incoming used CDs. It appears that this time out, the Record Store is cutting the frequent buyer card.
Frequent buyer cards are on the way out anyway. Remember when Subway used to have them? Seems like a long time ago now, because it has been: Sub Club cards were phased out back in 2005!
Our frequent buyer card was very popular. We would redeem several of them on any typical day. You could cash it in for any used CD, $11.99 or less, and we gave away a lot of free CDs. Customers would collect the cards, save them up, and treat themselves to something they really wanted. It was a great incentive to get customers to buy more than one CD at a time. People would buy an extra CD or two to collect the stamps, especially if they were close to completing their card. Very few were the people who turned down the card. “I have too much crap in my wallet,” was the most common reason for declining, but most people like the feeling of getting something for free.
It’s sad to see this era pass. My wallet is empty; I redeemed my card last visit. I know some customers would be furious. People love to complain. They used to whine that we wouldn’t stamp their cards if they bought a cheapie out of the “bargain bin”. (If they were nice about it, I’d give them a stamp for every two cheapies they bought, though it was against the rules.) Now they’re going to be pissed that they can’t get stamps at all. I don’t envy the staff members who have to explain this to the complainy types. (“Do you know how long I’ve shopped here?” will be one complaint they can look forward to.)
Prepare for more minimum wage fallout in Ontario over the next year. This is only beginning.
* I won’t say who told me…even if you do the unskinny “Bop”.
** That was a clue.