Furore as British Banks Axe Loyalty Points Programmes

23 August 2001

Following in the footsteps of Barclays Bank-owned Barclaycard, which on Saturday announced the ending of its Rewards loyalty points programme, another major UK bank HSBC yesterday announced the imminent demise of the Choice scheme on its standard Mastercard and Visa credit card brands.

But unlike Barclaycard customers who witnessed the overnight disappearance of a number of top prizes such as free international flights and cases of champagne, HSBC collectors at least have the opportunity to redeem their points before closure date on October 31.

Barclaycard’s precipitate action has triggered a storm of protest among its 10.1 million customers, one of whom had stockpiled 53,000 points with which he had planned to ‘buy’ five return air tickets to the US.

Commenting on the banks’ actions, retail analyst Verdict Research said that points-collection schemes did little to secure customer allegiance: “We have identified twenty-seven of the most important elements which determine loyalty in retailing, and loyalty schemes do not even register on the radar.”

But, warned Verdict, there could be a severe downside to the two banks’ [apparently] unrelated measures: “What promoters tend to overlook is that the negative emotions generated by the discontinuation of a scheme can completely wipe out the positive sentiments created at its launch.”

News source: The Times (London)