Shoppers Drug Mart changing rewards in July

June 10 2010 by Ellen Roseman

Companies that offer rewards for frequent shopping can change the rules from time to time. But they should give clear disclosure of how the changes may affect you.

Shoppers Drug Mart is changing the rules for Optimum reward redemptions on July 1, but it’s telling customers only about the new schedule.

I think this fails the clear disclosure test. Shoppers Drug Mart should show how many points you need for rewards now, compared to how many points you’ll need in the future.

Giving customers plenty of advance notice would also be welcome. Alas, that’s not the case here. You have only a month to redeem your points before the new rules come in.

Luckily, my readers are helping out. Joy sent the following information:

My Shoppers Drug Mart bill has a notice that the Optimum program is changing. It doesn’t say what the changes are, but it directs you to the website.

From there, you click through two other screens to learn that they are changing the points redemption amounts. To compare the current and new programs, I used a shopper who has earned 150,000 points.

Under the current program, the shopper would get $300 worth of merchandise (75,000 points = $150 worth of merchandise).

After June 30, they’d get $255 in merchandise (150,000 points is 3 x $85 or $255).

So, I think I’ll get better value if I use my points by the end of June!

You can find more about these changes here at the Smart Canucks blog.

19 comments

  1. rp

    Jun 10 2010

    Shame on Shoppers! They are almost a monopoly and act that way; I’ll be looking for more PharmaPrix and other competitors in my area for future shopping!

  2. Lior

    Jun 12 2010

    Probably has something to do with the suspension of the generic drug allowances. LOL! No stone shall remain unturned in Shoppers’ pursuit for a profit. I think that with all the bull%$#& that’s been coming from Shoppers recently as well as some of their peers in the industry, people really need to start boycotting their stores. Not only are they expensive as hell but customer service also leaves much to be desired.

  3. Den

    Jun 12 2010

    Pharmaprix is owned by Shoppers, so you’ll have to find another competitor.

    And yes, this is unfair. Only last week, they gave a redemption weekend and I skipped it since I didn’t need anything yet. By doing this, I lost the total value of my points and this happened without warning.

    It never pays to disappoint a paying customer and doing it this way is too sneaky for me.

    I also will start purchasing at either Uniprix (Aeoplan) or Jean Coutu (Air Miles) just because of the sneakiness…

    Bye ye Shopper’s!

  4. Rebecca

    Jun 12 2010

    Amazing! Cooments on this issue show fury and rage at Shoppers for changing the terms of point redemption – though they reserve the right to do so. But when MBNA changes their terms for cardholders – despite their written agreement, and payments go from $79 to $479 a month (250% increase ) on short notice – all the sympathy is for MBNA!

  5. Jamie

    Jun 13 2010

    This is actually quite a bit worse then it appears. Not only does the schedule substantially devalue the points, they have changed how things works for “plus” members (spent $1,000 the previous year)

    Now if a plus member redeems their points at the top two levels they instantly get points rebated, 10,000 back for redeeming 750000, 5000 for 40000. That benefit will disappear july 1. There is no mention of this change, anywhere, except mention of it has disappeared from the fine print (and been confirmed by phone).

    So today a plus member is out 65,000 points to redeem for $150 (or $200 on the special redemption days), on july 1 they will be out 95,000 points for $170 (we assume they will have special redemption days at $200, but don’t know). They have effectively devalue the existing points balances of their best customers by 1/3, with very inadequate disclosure.

    The extreme nature of the way they use the high value of the points as an integral part of their pricing strategy means they have just effectively raised the price on items point holders have already purchased in the past.

  6. Joy

    Jun 13 2010

    SDM needs to be more clear about the new redemption levels, instead of saying that the program is changing, and just referring customers to their website. And, once you do get to the right screen on their site, it’s difficult to do a ‘before’ and ‘after’ comparison as Shoppers uses different dollar amounts and different points for redemption values, other than at the $10 level. Many Shoppers clients are going to be surprised when they try to redeem points after June 30! ps I just received the weekly Shoppers marketing email and it doesn’t say anything about any changes to Optimum!

  7. rp

    Jun 14 2010

    Here’s the insipid boilerplate reply I got from Shoppers:

    Thank you for your inquiry as customer feedback is very important to us. The Shoppers Optimum program is Canada’s most valuable retail loyalty rewards program and remains so with this minor change to the rewards structure. The program’s reward structure has not been modified since January 2006, and since that time we have significantly increased the ways in which our customers can earn points and redeem for rewards.

    Customer feedback is very important to our continued success and your comments and concerns have been forwarded to the Marketing department for future consideration.

    Please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Service Call Centre at 1-800-SHOPPERs should you have any further questions or comments or require immediate assistance.

    Regards,
    Angela
    Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix Customer Service

  8. Karlyne Adey

    Jun 16 2010

    Why aren’t Optimum points allowed to be used to purchase Shoppers gift cards? After all, these cards would be used for goods in Shoppers.

  9. Shaun

    Jun 18 2010

    Because then u could buy stuff with the gift card and collect points again from what was free

  10. JR

    Jun 24 2010

    I went to Shoppers today and there is a little note on the receipt advising coming changes to their rewards program.

    I checked out the website too, and it is convoluted at first, then just takes you to the new schedule.

    Funny how there is no distinct relationship of points to dollars, either as current or for the new scheme; you’ll have to do some number crunching to see how much the actual dollar value changes, but the new steps are significant.

    To help you see what they are changing, I looked on the back of my current SDM receipt, which is preprinted with all the current points values:

    7,000 = $10
    15,000 = $25
    30,000 = $55
    40,000 = $75
    75,000 = $150

    The new schedule is as follows:

    8,000 = $10
    22,000 = $30
    38,000 = $60
    50,000 = $85
    95,000 = $170

    Hope this helps.

  11. JR again

    Jun 25 2010

    Here’s another heads-up tidbit about the Shoppers points…

    We made a small $15 purchase tonight. The friendly cashier asked if we wanted to cash in some of our points. Sure, we said… we’re going to end up getting less for them as of next week anyway.

    Now their cash register system automatically defaults at cashing in 40,000 points, and the [naive] cashier actually hit the button and cashed in that amount, for a discount of $12.57 on our purchase.

    When we looked on the back of the receipt tape, it turns out that 40,000 points is actually worth “up to” $75!

    So had I not looked at the points transaction at the bottom, I would have been out the equivalent of over $60 on a $15 purchase…..

    We went back to the cashier and she did not know how to fix this and had to go to the head cashier/front store manager, who explained that if she continued to push the “redeem points” button, the number decreases in amount — right down to 7,000 points for the $10 discount — which is the correct amount in this transaction.

    The head cashier had to consult with her supervisory manager on shift to get the procedure and approvals down, so that our Optimum card was reimbursed the proper amount of points.

    Just goes to show you that not all the options are provided to you at checkout. There’s often just a vague sort of question, “Did you want to redeem your points?”

    Here are two paragraphs quoted from SDM in this regard:

    26. When redeeming Shoppers Optimum Points, Shoppers Drug Mart will automatically select the maximum eligible Shoppers Optimum Points redemption level available. Alternatively, the Shoppers Optimum Member may select a different eligible redemption level by informing the cashier prior to redemption of Shoppers Optimum Points. In either case, the Shoppers Optimum Member’s account under his/her Shoppers Optimum Card number must have the appropriate number of Shoppers Optimum Points. For example, if the Member has accumulated 22,000 Shoppers Optimum Points, the maximum redemption level available is 22,000 Shoppers Optimum Points. However, the Member may elect to redeem only 8,000 Points on a $30.00 transaction; in this case the reduction off the purchase price will be $10.00.

    27. When redeeming Shoppers Optimum Points, the Shoppers Optimum Member may maximize the dollar value of the reward discount. If the Shoppers Optimum Member does not wish to maximize the dollar value of the reward discount, the remaining dollar value associated with the reward discount will be forfeited. For example, if the Member has accumulated 22,000 Shoppers Optimum Points and wishes to redeem all these points on a transaction with a pre-tax purchase price of eligible products of $20.00, then the reduction off the purchase price will be $20.00 and the difference between the $30.00 maximum reward discount and the $20.00 discount (i.e. $10.00) will be forfeited.

    So the cashier did nothing wrong as such. But how many customers are forfeiting their points through ignorance of the policies as outlined above, and by not being offered the available options at checkout?

    Seems SDM giveth and taketh away, if you don’t watch what they are doing… Caveat emptor, as usual.

    FYI – we have been members of this program since inception, and regularly collect and cash in our points, to the tune of hundreds of dollars over the years.

  12. Joy again

    Jun 25 2010

    Today’s Toronto Star has an ad for a Shoppers “spend your points’ weekend tomorrow and Sunday. 40,000 points (normally good for $75 in merchandise) will get you $100 worth of merchandise. I couldn’t find anything on their website, so this may be a Toronto offer only.

    Interesting that the Optimum home page has the generic message about the program changing on July 1. And right underneath, they display the current (not the post July 1) points redemption levels.

  13. RP

    Jun 27 2010

    I think I found a way to beat Shoppers Optimum! Another post mentioned that you cannot spend the points on gift cards, but here’s something I successfully did:

    I had a bit more than 15,000 old points and bought something [returnable] for about $23 plus tax and used up my points.

    The next day, I said I didn’t like the product; got a cash refund and forfeited the 15,000 points. No big deal for me…I got cash in hand!

  14. coney

    Jun 28 2010

    I went to Shoppers for a refund on my points spent, but they told me they never give points back.

    However, when I check on their website, it says Shoppers Optimumâ„¢ Points used to pay for a product will be returned if a receipt is presented at time of return and within the 30 day timeframe”.

    So I called the store manager, who said: “No, we never do that, as what I see it says on our menu.”

    Shouldn’t they do what they tell customers on their own website? It they do not follow what is on their websites, what is the point to have it on there?

    Shoppers sucks!

  15. MR

    Jul 28 2010

    Here’s my email correspondence with Shoppers.

    ———————————————————–

    I am totally disgusted with the antics of Shoppers Drug Mart and your Optimum Program and I am copying Ellen Roseman at the Toronto Star.

    My wife and I have been collecting points for quite some time and, by combining ours, we are almost at 75,000 points. That was the level required to get $100 worth of goods.

    You have now eliminated that level, increased it to 95,000 points and increased the reward level to $170.

    This is not the first time your chain has made changes to the reward levels and it is, in my opinion, most odious.

    I would like to hear your comments on this.

    ———————————————————–

    Hello Mr. R,

    Thank you for writing to us. We apologize for any inconvenience the recent changes to the Optimum program may have caused you and your wife.

    In order to avoid this type of circumstance, we began notifying customers of the Shoppers Optimum redemption changes beginning on June 1st, providing four weeks of notice of the change in store, through notices posted at the cash registers, online, through our website, and through our promotional emails.

    We also offered customers two redemption events to redeem for a higher value on the weekends of June 5 to June 6 and June 26 to 27, as well as a 20x event during the month to help customers redeem for the level they might have been saving for.

    Our records indicate that both you and your wife should have received a notification of this change through the promotional emails sent during the month of June (since we have your most current email address on file).

    The reward table was last modified in 2006 and in the last four years, we have added new Optimum offers and programs to help customers earn points faster, such as the Shoppers Optimum MasterCard and the V.I.B. program.

    In addition, the number of Optimum promotions (ie. 20x Events) have doubled, we have opened over 300 new stores and increased our merchandise offering to include high ticketed items such as prestige beauty and electronics.

    Please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Service Call Centre at 1-800-SHOPPERs should you have any further questions or comments or require immediate assistance.

    Regards,
    Sandra
    Customer Service

    ————————————————————

    Thank you for your response to my complaint, but I still feel like Tantalus. The top prize is just within grasp and it is suddenly yanked back so that I cannot reach it.

    Allow me to comment on your rationalizations below.

    Yes, I do get your e-mails which I consider a very small step above spam. I do glance at them briefly but there was nothing obvious about changes.

    I did go back and these changes were mentioned in a small space at the very bottom right of the e-mail and after all your hype. It said click here for information……

    If Shoppers was truly serious about letting all know, then the subject line of the e-mail should have said, “important – changes coming to the reward system”.

    There may have been signs in your stores but they were certainly not noticeable enough for me to see them.

    Regardless, staff should have been instructed to tell any customer presenting with an Optimum Card that changes were coming and to offer them literature.

    I am pleased for you and your shareholders that the number of stores is increasing and that they are selling higher priced items. But how does that help me and other point collectors? Only in that it affords us more stores in which to spend our money and to spend more of it.

    Products sold in your stores are also available in many other stores and drug stores. There are two non-Shoppers in very close proximity to the one I use and, when it comes to prescriptions, even more choice through Metro and Fortinos as well as the two independents.

    Unfortunately (because we need them), my insurance company pays out thousands of dollars annually to Shoppers for our prescriptions. They can easily be moved.

    MR

  16. SFL

    Oct 3 2010

    I was in the same situation, as I found out my nearly 100,000 points were gone without any notice. I swear I did not get any email notice from them before they forfeit all points from my account. They just have another unhappy customer.

    I will not buy anything from SDM from now on.

  17. sophie

    Jun 16 2011

    A large number of Optimum points had disappeared from my account and Shoppers Drug Mart refused to do anything about it.

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