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A Serious Case Of Loyalitis

03/04/2016 8:50 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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The other day, I was stuck in line behind this elegantly dressed middle-aged lady, at the supermarket. After playing peeping Tom with the lavish selection of items she had placed on the conveyor belt, I waited for her to pay. I have a bone to pick with people who don't follow the 10-items-or-less rule at the checkout. The notice is right there and it's there for a reason. And you have a place reserved in hell for not sticking to that rule. Anyway, I digress. Coming back to this lady, keeping my fingers crossed that she would pay with a credit card and be done, I watched her pull out a Chanel clutch from her could-easily-hide-a-puppy Louis Vuitton bag.

So extreme has been my case of Loyalitis that I now stand as an honorary member of the Loyalty Card Hoarders' Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, the cashier chose that moment to ask her if she had the supermarket's premium loyalty card. I heard the person standing right behind me protest loudly while I merely sighed. Of course, the sigh turned into wide-eyed desperation when she then pulled out another smaller wallet and unfolded it with all the gusto of a magician showing off his craft. A not-so-silent gasp escaped my parted lips as loyalty cards of varying shapes, sizes and colours tumbled out onto the cashier's desk and the lady said, "I'm sure I have your card in here somewhere. I just need to find it."

Amused? I was too. However, this was soon followed by a wave of embarrassment and sort of inexplicable guilt. Because I too am the proud owner of a fat wallet. No, it isn't bloated with the money that I should be 'hypothetically' making. In fact, it is stretching at the seams for same reason as the lady's in the instance above.

Because, just like many of you, I too am affected by a severe case of 'LOYALITIS'.

The irony is that I often end up going to a completely new place or one with no loyalty program at all to do the bulk of my shopping.

Loyalitis is a condition that affects 1 in 4 adults, and is defined by certain characteristic traits.

  • A false sense of pride in hoarding as many loyalty or reward cards as one possibly can.
  • An inability to say NO, when the smiling customer service agent (usually an attractive person of the opposite gender) explains the benefits and perks of their 'unique' Loyalty or Reward program in a soft, dusky and slightly heavy voice, while their perfume dulls your senses and makes you take irrational decisions.
  • A comforting voice in the back of your head, (usually planted with Mission Impossible-style-precision by the afore-mentioned agent or one of their minions while you were busy admiring them) that throws phrases like, "Yes, that makes total sense", "Yes, we're going to keep coming back here to buy more stuff", "Yes, it's such a bargain, you should sign up."
  • A feeling of What if? such as, "What if I win that Mini Cooper that they assure ONE customer will win every month, from a draw that is totally staged?" or "What if I do use it enough and gain enough points to either get an upgrade, a gift or a move from my dull starter Blue tier to a Platinum level?"

So extreme has been my case of Loyalitis that I now stand as an honorary member of the Loyalty Card Hoarders' Hall of Fame. In fact, I have managed to hoard so many loyalty and reward cards that I am in dire danger of needing to carry another wallet just for these. This, despite the fact that I only use a maximum of two or three of them on any given day. The irony is that I often end up going to a completely new place or one with no loyalty program at all to do the bulk of my shopping.

While you're standing at the check-in counter flashing your 'Blue' (or base level) card, there comes some obnoxious looking twit flashing his diamond-encrusted Platinum-level card.

The extraordinary thing about loyalty cards is the fact that they're almost omnipresent. They're everywhere these days--in retail stores, e-shops, travel, hospitality. The list is practically endless.

Speaking of which, apart from the loyalty cards from retail stores, the bulk of my cards are from different airlines. Also known as 'Frequent Traveller Membership cards', they're pretty awesome. They come in a variety of shades and colours, each with their own insignia. I've got to say this--they do make you feel special. Of course, the problem is that while you're standing at the check-in counter flashing your 'Blue' (or base level) card, there comes some obnoxious looking twit flashing his diamond-encrusted Platinum-level card. And like the sea parted for Moses, we're all shepherded away to one side for this person, who probably has single-handedly contributed 10% to the world's carbon footprint.

If there was a title for 'King of Unused Reward Points', I'd probably take the crown hands down. Part of the reason would be the scenario that I mentioned above. I'm loyal. But only to the person who gives me the best deal, because money is always a major criteria. The other condition is what is lovingly called, the Terms and Conditions.

More often than not, you need someone like Sherlock Holmes to find the T&Cs, because they're so deeply embedded within an essay of random sentences.

The first course of action is to find these darn T&Cs. More often than not, you need someone like Sherlock Holmes to find it, because they're so deeply embedded within an essay of random sentences. And when you do eventually find them, you then have to meet their said criteria. And these are sometimes as random as things like, "You'll need to hop alternatively on each leg, while simultaneously chanting the multiplication table of the number 13".

So, with all this in mind, I've decided to make my contribution to the next Guy Fawkes bonfire night, by snipping and burning away all those loyalty cards that I am no longer 'loyal' to.

And as a part of my 'de-loyalization' program, every time I visit a new store and one of the employees asks if I'd like to sign up for their loyalty program or card, I shall give them the look. Yes, that look--as if they just asked me if I'd like to give up my son for adoption. Coincidentally, this look is also reserved for those strange men who ask you to cough up your personal details so that you can sign up for a credit card right there at the supermarket or department store.

But now, I must rush. After having 30 coffees from my favourite coffee joint, they have now offered me a free upgrade on my next cup. Oh, did I tell you that to redeem this I need to be wearing green pants and do cart-wheels around the coffee-house? The things we do for redemption. Of our points, of course.

A version of this article was first published on iwrotethose.com

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