No card, no discount: New World limits “Club Deals” to card-carrying customers

Why we think New World shoppers are being misled by the store’s Clubcard price labels.

20aug no card no discount hero

New World shoppers who don’t sign up for the store’s Clubcard are no longer getting “Club Deal” prices at the checkout.

Since the supermarket rolled out its Clubcard in 2016, checkout staff have been able to swipe a card if a customer didn’t have their own. However, staff are no longer allowed to do this.

The “No Clubcard, no Club Deal” rule has riled some customers and we think they’ve got good grounds for complaint.

Price labels we’ve seen in-store for Clubcard deals prominently display one price: the Clubcard price. We think it’s reasonable to assume that’s what you’ll pay at the checkout. The “regular” price is shown on the label but it’s in much smaller font – you almost need to squint to see it.

The confusion doesn’t end there. A product that’s a “Club Deal” one week may be labelled a “Saver” the next, even though the price hasn’t changed. You need a card to get the Club Deal price but not to get the Saver price even when it’s the same amount – confused yet?

Deal or no deal?

New World defended the changes to us, stating “after four years, and lots of recent communication to customers letting them know we would be removing temporary Clubcards at check out, the time has finally come”. Customers who don’t have a Clubcard “will be charged the standard retail price”.

The store said “Club Deals are prominently displayed on shelves with clear ticket pricing” and it’s free to join Clubcard – customers “simply need to sign up”.

We disagree the labels are clear: they don’t prominently show the “regular” price you’ll be charged if you don’t have a card. We think they risk misleading consumers and we’ll be making a complaint to the Commerce Commission.

There are valid reasons why customers may choose to not sign up for a Clubcard. One of them is they don’t want to share personal data with the supermarket – and why should they have to?

New World reserves the right to collect a range of information about Clubcard customers, including their age, where they live, their mobile location data and purchasing preferences. This data can also be shared with various undisclosed third parties.

Requiring customers to sign up for a Clubcard to get “deals” checkout staff used to give them anyway, sounds to us a little bit like a data grab.

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Have you been misled by a less than “special” supermarket deal? Have you noticed routinely discounted items being advertised as “special” offers? Have you got examples of confusing pricing from your local supermarket?

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Member comments

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Bruce S.
05 Sep 2020
New World Club Cards

My biggest 'beef' isn't so much the cards - I've had one for a long time - but the fact that the Club special price label is placed over the top on the regular price label, so that I can't tell how 'special' the 'special' really is! Also, my sight is not the best, and I have considerable difficulty in reading the 'unit price per gram/litre' so that I can compare the stated 'special' price with the price shown for larger or smaller packs of the same product. Bruce.

Noel L.
05 Sep 2020
"loyalty" cards tend to encourage me to avoid a store

I avoid New World wherever possible just because of the issues you raise here. Similarly I avoid Farmers because I went to purchase there one time and when I got to the counter was informed that I needed a Farmers card to obtain the discount that was advertised.
I guess it's ironic that I will be loyal to quality goods and good service. I don't use coffee cards at my favorite cafe's - the coffee is good and I get service with a smile. They deserve my loyalty and I don't want to eat into their profit. I'll favour the local shop over the box mover for the same reasons. This is the case with pretty much anything goods and services I buy.

Mark H.
03 Sep 2020
Joining the Clubcard loyalty scheme has made me think about what I really want

I agree with the specific issues raised by Consumer:
* the advertised Clubcard specials are designed to attract all purchasers not just Clubcard members. They increase the likelihood that shoppers will select items without realising they will be paying a higher price
* I regularly have difficulty finding the non-Clubcard price to do a comparison.
* I regularly have difficulty determining if the Clubcard special is a "real" price reduction over the normal discounted price.

I am a Clubcard member and a member of several other loyalty schemes. Personally, the benefits of these schemes are greater to the card owner than to me.

Loyalty schemes are designed to get me to exchange loyalty scheme benefits for better benefits (price, product quality, service) elsewhere. Am example of this is that I often see my friends pay more to purchase from a retailer with Fly Buys points than to shop elsewhere and get a better price and/or service.

I dislike loyalty schemes that decrease costs for "rich" people relative to the costs for "poor" people. Fuel loyalty schemes increase the likelihood of this happening because of the minimum spend required to get the loyalty discount - it is normally $40. Credit card loyalty schemes also increase the relative cost of services for "poor" people. These are well-documented issues: you can read the relevant NZ Commerce Commission reports to see for yourself.

The Clubcard is more benign but it has got me to think more about what I want when I shop. I used to shop at my local New World to support the local business owners who advertise that New World is locally-owned, contributes to the local community (primarily by sponsorship) and cares about its customers. I did not shop there because it was value for money or the products and service any better than elsewhere.

So "pushing" me to join a loyalty scheme has encouraged me to think more clearly about how I get a better price or product or service. The net result is more business for these retailers:
* Pak'n'save would be a good option as it is the cheapest supermarket chain.
* Trade warehouses such as Moore Wilson, Davis Trading, and Gilmores are another option. Some of their outlets have the added benefit of extra wide aisles and lower customer density which helps reduce the risks of exposure to Covid-19. An example is Moore Wilson Wingate but it has a rather limited product range.
* Online buying fresh food for better quality - it doesn't sit on the shelf in a store.

Barry A.
31 Aug 2020
Clubcard price not misleading

Is it not misleading to advertise a price is a special when it is the same as is always charged? Isn't it also misleading to advertise that a holder of a card gets a special benefit or price when anyone can get the same benefit or price? People can make the choice to get the card or not, and the regular prices are where they always are. The club card prices are clearly promoted as such.

PeterZ
30 Aug 2020
Goodbye New World

I don't have their card yet I got the specials when shopping there by using the checkout card. But now, why bother. They spend a lot of advertising money to get me in the door and when I get there I now can't get the specials unless I sign up and disclose more personal info than I want to. So its goodbye to New World. PaknSave is still convenient for me even though its the same company, or to Countdown.

Ray M.
29 Aug 2020
Shop at Pak N Save

Want access to all the specials without the store card? Go to Pak N Save.

David C.
29 Aug 2020
A work around

I believe an anonymous tourist swipe card for the club deals is available from the information desks in the supermarkets, should the staff believe you are not from New Zealand. That we are required to hand over purchasing and other data, when the pricing is not transparent, really feels an over-reach by Foodstuffs, (who own New World, Pak'nSav and 4 Square) and borderline coercive. How is this approach not in conflict with the commerce act?

Peter K H.
29 Aug 2020
Useless Data

We have found that targetted advertising to Club Card members offers us products we have never bought, and wouldn't dream of buying, so their data isn't much use to them anyway.

Anthony F.
29 Aug 2020
Permanent Specials

Specials that are not special should not be allowed. I thought that was illegal anyway so it will be interesting what the Commerce Commission says.

This is a different issue to the Loyalty Card like New World Clubcard prices being given to anyone.

Anthony F.
29 Aug 2020
Clubcard prices

I am amazed that Consumer thinks that the Clubcard prices are confusing. Thats what they are! There is a statement of what the standard price is. If the standard price was not stated then I would be concerned.
I am also amazed that New World has been giving Clubcard prices to anyone but it is their choice. Its their loyalty card. Similarly it is the customer's choice to have a card or not. So I support New World doing what they should have been doing all the time and only give ClubCard prices to Clubcard members.

John R.
29 Aug 2020
Ban Clubcard Prices

I won't provide the supermarket chains with my personal shopping data and so will not have a clubcard. Now that I'm obliged to pay more without the card I can exercise choice and buy those items elsewhere or at a different time, but I object because the club price is really the normal retail price and so I am being asked to pay a surcharge for the right to refuse their targetted advertising. I support your complaint to the CC.

Simonne M.
29 Aug 2020
Tiered pricing should be outlawed!

I don't like the current system where more than one price is displayed and if you belong to the "club" you get the cheaper price. This creates an exclusion effect, you don't get the cheaper price because you don't belong. This system coerces people to sign up to get the cheaper prices that they see everyday in front of them when they shop. Only one price should be displayed.

Compare this with something like the Pak n Save Fuel Voucher system. Only one price is displayed at the pump for each type of fuel so there is no confusion. If you happen to have a voucher you get a discount.

Also compare with hairdressers, cafe's, mechanics for example. They typically only display the one price for each service they provide. They may offer a loyalty card where after so many visits or services provided, or amount spent, you get a discount on the next visit/service.

Ben J.
29 Aug 2020
Loyalty deals

I understand the reason for this article and the points it discusses are valid, but isn't this what most companies do with their discounts that are loyalty card based? Like countdown, macpac, farmers, petrol stations, pharmacies etc, pretty sure all have sales that are only specific to loyalty card holders, so if people don't want to sign up they won't get the deal, it's pretty black and white isn't it? And they aren't being targeted for doing the same thing?

Hugh N.
29 Aug 2020
product pricing

A product on the shelf can only be sold once
Why do we have tiered pricing?

John M.
29 Aug 2020
club cards

One way that the harvesting of personal data can be countered is when applying for a clubcard, complete the form with false (but believable) data. It is not a legal document so you can put what you like. If enough people did this, the supermarkets would come to realize that erroneous data is useless data.

The Real John R.
29 Aug 2020
Only a partial answer

If you like the scan as you go machines, as I do, you have to have a Club Card AND proof of identity. (A different, but the real, John R)

Bill
30 Aug 2020
Personal information

Exactly. I have an "alternative" birthdate that I use for all forms that ask for it, other than when a true date is legally required. No way am I giving out such personal information to these data harvesters as who knows where it might end up.

M B Z.
29 Aug 2020
New World prices

We live near Hokitika,
Our New World is under going
an upgrade.
Premium mince usually was
$14.95/kg and went as high as $19.95/kg during lockdown.
When I checked last week it was $22.45/kg.
I checked other prices in the store and a number have gone up 10% or more since renovations started.
It looks like we have started to pay for the upgrade.