There is a day left for Loblaws shoppers to register for their $25 gift card to offset the hit from a long-standing bread price-fixing scandal. But the headaches don’t end there. When that window closes, Loblaws can concentrate on fixing consumers’ loyalty card problems.
From the time the PC Points-Optimum loyalty card merger was announced earlier this year, Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart consumers have been actively trying to merge their memberships and their credit cards in the combined program.
For many, it’s been smooth sailing despite the administrative and technical challenges of merging two huge programs. But for many others, lots of questions and problems remain: from missing and stolen points to glitchy passwords to email offers that aren’t arriving in members’ inboxes. Suffice it to say, the loyalty transition has had its share of problems.
MoneySense decided to reach out to readers, in order to gauge the kinds of problems they were having. And to help them get a fix, we reached out to Loblaws directly, to find solutions and save you the phone call.
We heard from Sarah Gayer, who recently wrote for help in finding her missing stockpile of points. “I lost over a million points’ worth, which is about $1,000 in points,” wrote Gayer. “I have been trying to get them back…they say they are looking into it but it has been over two months.” Tom T, who’s concerned he has dropped off their weekly email to ‘load my offers’ during the switchover.” Or one of our very own MoneySense team, who couldn’t load old Optimum points into the new account—despite trying online and in-store—until he took to waiting on the phone and finally got help merging his accounts and getting his $105 in points accreditated.
We heard from frustrated loyalty members who alleged Loblaw was conspiratorially out to steal your points by having them go missing “accidentally”—all in an effort to enrich Loblaw shareholders. We reached out to Catherine Thomas, senior director of external communications for Loblaw Companies, who wasn’t about to confirm conspiracies but was quick to acknowledge the challenges. She reassured members that all accounts and points will be restored and all passwords reset.
“We expected the volume and doubled the number of people on the IT team,” explained Thomas. “But we underestimated some of the challenges that come with merging two huge loyalty programs,” explains Thomas. “Some members have had longer-than-normal wait times [with customer service].”
If you’re a member concerned about deadlines, there are no deadlines to merge the two programs—unless you live in Quebec. Because of different regulations, the Pharamaprix Optimum program was terminated on May 2. Still, if you did not use up your old points or convert to the new program yet, don’t worry. Just contact Loblaws now at 1-866-727-6468 to do so. There are no deadlines for the rest of Canada.
Based on the problems our readers are facing, we came up with five quick fixes to try now if consumers are still having issues.
1. Members questioning point balances
Christina M. writes: “I noticed that $20 was missing. My statement before the transition said 50,000+ PC points. I had not spent any that week and when I shopped for the first time after that I only had 30,000 left. I have saved the email from then showing the 50,000 points.”
The fix: Any member with a question or concern about their current point balance—whether related to the conversion, or points from purchases—should contact the customer care team at 1-866-727-6468. Alternatively, they can start a ‘points inquiry’ through the app or online at PCoptimum.ca.
2. Trouble linking to PC Mastercard or merging Optimum into PC Optimum
Angela S. writes: “My husband and I both have PC Optimum cards and PC Financial cards. All seems to work for me but I have been trying since Feb. 8 to add my husband’s cards to my account we can add to and redeem our points as a family like in the past. I can’t do it and I have called them and they said it will take about a week for them to do it. Very frustrating.”
Carsten B. writes: “I recently noticed that our two PC Financial credit cards are not linked. I have my card and my wife has a secondary card but her points do not transfer to my account (I am the primary cardholder). I have tried linking the cards under “household” but an error message appeared. Charges on her card do appear on my credit card account.”
The fix: “We turned off the “householding” option (where two individual members can combine into one account) to repair a technical issue,” says Thomas. “It has been fixed and reinstated, so our customer service desk is happy to support any members requiring assistance.”
During the period where “householding” was not available, all PC Optimum points would have been reflected on the primary cardholder’s account, the company says. No points have been lost. Now the secondary cardholder should be able to access PC Optimum points for redemption.
If you have a PC Financial Mastercard you don’t need to have a secondary PC Optimum loyalty card to collect your points. However, if you want to receive personalized offers you do need to create an online account. If you pick up a PC Optimum card, make sure to link your accounts (i.e. combine your Mastercard and PC Optimum card) so that all points and purchases are captured. The number is 1-866-727-6468.
If you already have an Optimum card and can’t merge it through the app into your new PC Optimum account, call the number on the back of your Optimum card and do it over the phone: 1-800-746-7737. Staff in the stores may not be able to help.
3. If you think someone else may have used your points—so-called “compromised accounts”
Felix B. writes: “I had over 280,000 points in the program worth over $280. On March 21, someone in London, Ont. used 50,000 points followed by another 130,000 points on March 27. I have not been to London. The PC app says they used my cell phone which was never lost or compromised. A supervisor told me she couldn’t help me and I have to wait until they investigate. Please help.”
The fix: Heightened security is part of the new normal for any online businesses. Loblaw’s Thomas says they have strong security measures in place and take any sign of unusual activity very seriously. “In order to help protect their account, we’ve asked a small fraction of our membership to reset their passwords and to ensure a strong, unique password,” says Thomas. “We know this has been an inconvenience and concern for some members. Their personal information is safe and every last point will be restored.”
Thomas also wanted to reassure members that the PC Optimum program has added security compared to the old cards. “We are continually reviewing our security and routinely adding new safeguards, steps, and mechanisms. Any customer who believes there has been unusual activity on their account should immediately contact our customer care team at 1-866-727-6468.
4. If your offer is more generic than you’re used to
Judy A. writes: “I’m wondering when the “real” offers will start. It used to be that many grocery values were offered but recently it seems they are promoting Shoppers Drug Mart and just how many beauty products does one need? And this week shoelaces were on offer. Does Loblaw not intend to get back to grocery offers?”
The fix: PC Optimum promises that shopping preferences will become clearer with time. “For most members, offers are already highly personalized, bringing in their shopping history from the old accounts,” notes Thomas. “For some, it took longer to convert files and fine-tune their personalization, and offers may seem generic. This has been resolved and members should be seeing the personalized offers they love in the next week.”
5. Not getting targeted email offers
Tom T. writes. “I noticed I was dropped off their weekly email to “load my offers” during the switch-over. My mistake for not noticing but out-of-sight out-of-mind. After spending hundreds I finally realized my points balance wasn’t changing. In my opinion, it was a glitch in the change-over and there are probably many in the same situation.”
The fix: In order to receive a weekly targeted email, members need to ‘opt-in’ to company communications. In the app, the customer can choose the setting under “Notification Settings” and click the box stating they consent to receive electronic communication from us. “On the website, under Account, Settings, they can click the box stating they want to receive communication from us by email,” adds Thomas. “Or as always, they can contact our customer care team who can help them at 1-866-727-6468.
If you have any other points issues that were not covered here, please drop us a line at [email protected]
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