Business

Users complain of issues after launch of PC Optimum rewards program

The merger of two of Canada's most popular loyalty rewards programs — PC Plus points and Shoppers Optimum — faced issues on Thursday as some members complained about their inability to register or access the new program online.

Users took to Twitter to talk about their problems in trying to join the new program

The new loyalty program had been long anticipated since Loblaw Companies Ltd. bought drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart in 2014. (Graeme Roy/Canadian Press)

The merger of two of Canada's most popular loyalty rewards programs — PC Plus points and Shoppers Optimum — faced issues on Thursday as some members complained about their inability to register or access the new program online.

As of Feb. 1, members of both loyalty programs were able to join a new program called PC Optimum, which would combine the balance of points from the previous programs into one account.

But some users took to Twitter on the launch day to talk about their frustrations and problems in trying to join the new program on the website and the app.

Complaints ranged from people being unable to add points from their Shoppers Optimum accounts to the new program to people calling the entire rollout a failure. 

'Massive interest' 

In response to the issues, Loblaw spokesperson Catherine Thomas told CBC News that the launch did have a "couple of bumps" because the company was seeing massive interest in the program. 

"We've successfully converted a huge number of members already. More importantly, we are approaching nearly one million transactions with customers earning and redeeming PC Optimum points," she said.

"We continue to focus on making this a seamless conversion process for our members. Further, the issue related to downloading our app has been resolved," she added.

But even after her response, some users were still complaining on Twitter about being unable to transfer their Shoppers Optimum points to the new program online.

Trouble linking points

Later, Thomas admitted that there were a few challenges with "online linking" and the company was working quickly to resolve the issue.

"In the meantime, customers can still swap their cards in store and begin the conversion process," she said.

Bringing together 19 million members across 2,500 stores has brought enthusiasm and some issues, as expected, Thomas said.

The new loyalty program had been long anticipated since Loblaw bought drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart in 2014.

Points can be collected and spent at all of Loblaw's retail brands, including: 

  • Real Canadian Superstore.
  • Atlantic Superstore. 
  • City Market. 
  • No Frills. 
  • Independent.
  • Zehrs. 
  • Loblaws. 
  • Shoppers Drug Mart. 
  • Shoppers Home Health Care.
  • online at JoeFresh.com and BeautyBoutique.ca.

In Quebec, however, the automatic program merger will not happen starting this month.

Shoppers Drug Mart operates under the name Pharmaprix in that province and the Pharmaprix Optimum program ended on Jan. 31. But, members have until May 2 to redeem their points or convert them to the new program.

User concerns

Loyalty card expert Patrick Sojka said the uproar on social media likely comes from some users worrying the glitch could make them lose all their points or data would be lost in the conversion.

"You have people who are going to different Loblaws stores today or Shoppers Drug Marts, who want to shop and I'm not 100 per cent sure if your old cards will work," he said.

He recommends members hold on to their receipts for now to ensure they are properly credited once all the bugs have been worked out.

Meanwhile, despite Thursday's technical glitch, retail and marketing expert Brynn Winegard said that ultimately consumers stand to benefit from the merger of the two rewards program.

"The idea here is that it's easier now to collect these points and then easier to use those points at 2,500 stores as well as on the website. So, you're more likely to get rewards," she said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.