If you want my loyalty, Checkers, stop pissing me off

ChecX
Swipe your way to frustration

By John Fraser

Many moons ago, I was working for one of SA’s most successful businessman, Neil Froneman, who then headed a modest resources company. He now heads a major resources company and has progressed through hard work, determination, vision.

We were at one of those management strategy sessions, during a period when I was still in favour, and we were being asked to name the qualities you should seek in an employee.

I suggested: loyalty.

Froneman responded, with a flash of those steely, determined, mining magnate eyes: “If you want loyalty, hire a dog.”

It wasn’t too much longer before I discovered my inner canine, and resigned.

So much for loyalty!

One of the closest supermarkets to my Pretoria chateaux is a branch of Checkers, and it has been pushing loyalty though its new, gaudy, loyalty card.

Why not give it a go, I thought, oozing naivety and optimism?

Having failed to get things moving several times online, I went to the store, and they got me carded-up quite efficiently.

I now had my card.   Now I could save, save, save?

Well, not quite.

Checkers does exclusively offer its cardholders some quite attractive prices.

And the catch?

YOU CAN’T FIND THE BLOODY STUFF!

In ten or so treasure hunts, plastic card clutched in my sweaty hand, and plastic bags yearning for re-use, I have rarely found the pot of gold, with this loyal loon instead being reduced to a quivering, gibbering wreck.

For they have re-discovered a golden rule of retail.

You ain’t going to make less profit on an item if you don’t have it on the shelves, and your customers cannot find or buy it.

OK.   Sometimes you can get lucky, and I did occasionally hit the jackpot. I did find some well-priced Pringles and was rewarded for buying three cylinders of (air plus) Pringles with a reasonable saving.

I had to buy three, coz, you see, bargains are not unconditional.  I wasn’t thrilled by my plenitude of Pringles, but the dogs certainly were.

HOWEVER, when I went in search of the fruit juice I wanted, the instant coffee which is unusually drinkable, the meaty nibbles which my dogs desire……..

Time after time, the shelves were bare.   I would have had more chance tracking down the latest bomb-laden Isis leader.  Or an EFF politician who likes white people.

Whitey-Basson-CEO-Shoprite
Checkers’ former boss Whitey Basson

Now, I don’t know a lot about retail, although I did follow Checkers as a journalist when it was run by a true retail genius, Whitey Basson.

He, strangely, never seemed that keen on loyalty cards.

But he was intelligent enough to hold investment analysts’ and media briefings in Jo’burg. This is a basic courtesy the ill-advised current bunch seems unable, unwilling or ungracious enough to continue.

Maybe loyalty is an overrated virtue, although I love my dogs for it, and they bite me quite rarely in return.

But if you are going to try to foster loyalty through a loyalty card, at least honour the partnership by having the bargains you offer….on the shelves.

If this con con-tinues. you might have many more customers like me for whom the word ‘Checkers’ conjures up not a loving, lustful, loyalty-infused smile.

But instead, it will produce a primitive, snarling, canine-like growl.

A bark.    Because I couldn’t find the bite I wanted.

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