Canada’s oldest grocery store loyalty program ends on Vancouver Island

Canada's oldest grocery store loyalty program ends on Vancouver Island

Canada’s oldest grocery store loyalty program has ended and it has a Comox Valley man questioning the value of his points that he’s transferred to a different program.

James Hunchuk has been collecting points at Quality Foods for close to a decade and he recently learned he’d have to convert his more than 700,000 points to Save-On-More Rewards. The switchover left him with a measly 37,000 points. He says something doesn’t add up.

“I’m sure they have a different point system but we’d like to know how we’re getting value when we’re losing so much,” said Hunchuk.

The Q-card was the first grocery store loyalty program in Canada. The Vancouver Island company with 13 stores was purchased by the Pattison Group, which owns Save-On-Foods, in 2017.

Quality Foods says it decided to change loyalty programs to More Rewards save on administration costs and give customers more reward options.

“We didn’t have the ability to tap into some of the third party gift card programs, hotels, travel. This way not only can the customers earn in more places but redeem for far greater than just food,” said Justin Schley, Quality Foods’ vice president.

But comparing the loyalty programs isn’t like comparing apples to apples. Quality Foods says the buying power of More Rewards points is greater so they determined a 22 to one conversion rate would be fair but the company says it decided to use a conversion rate of 20 QF points to one More Reward when making the switch.

“The biggest goal we had was to make sure that the consumer got the same or more and that the value was there because points are important to people, they’re important to our shoppers and we want to make sure you get every bang for your buck,” said Schley.

But it’s hard to pinpoint the true dollar value of most points and rewards programs and that’s why one finance professor says shoppers should be wary of them in general especially as grocery prices soar.

“My biggest concern is that people get confused about the real value of what they’re getting. They buy something that they didn’t specifically want or need because it has a points advantage and as a result, we’re not getting good value for money,” said Dr. Charles Schell, a finance professor at Vancouver Island University.

Hunchuk says he’s still left feeling cheated and confused.

“I don’t really trust anyone right now. It’s a difficult time, especially with record profits,” said Hunchuk.

Adding the change in the QF points has changed his loyalty and he may now shop elsewhere.

Quality Foods says it’s still a family business that’s run independently of the Pattison Group and it will continue to do right by its customers.

In 2021 Quality Foods made its pandemic pay top-up for employees permanent.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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