Safeway stores: "No loyalty card, no discounts."

Safeway stores are in the news again... this time for preserving loyalty card data at the potential cost of annoying customers. From RetailWire:

It's not uncommon for cashiers at supermarkets and other retailers to swipe a generic loyalty card for customers who forget their cards or don't have one. That enables the shopper to gain the savings applicable under the store's rewards program.

Apparently, the reason the clerk-swiping practice is allowed by some is because stores avoid disappointing or outright annoying shoppers at the final step of the shopping experience. For new or less-frequent shoppers, being forced to take the time to sign up for a card to get a deal is also perhaps not the best welcome.

But other retailers, including Safeway, have stringent policies against the practice.

CEO Steve Burd said that since launching its rewards program 15 years ago, Safeway, because of the value of customer data, has been "highly disciplined" about making sure only card holders gain the savings. He believes Safeway's diligence in preventing clerk swiping has become a competitive advantage since other stores have been more lax.

Read the entire article.

The comments under the article are very telling too. Most of the industry people think this is wonderful and maintains the integrity of the loyalty card data. Others paint a different picture:

"There is a reason Safeway keeps losing market share and has fallen from grace in Philly, Texas, and Chicago. They seem to enjoy p*ssing off customers."

"Wow. Could you get any more anti-customer experience if you tried? ... The decision also puts their frontline staff in a very difficult position. I sure hope the executives who made this decision spends some time on the register telling people no. But we know that probably isn't going to happen...."

"It is a free program; why are you going to punish the customer that doesn't have a 'card' with them or doesn't want to sign up? Better yet, charge them more! That isn't driving loyalty, it's "anti-loyalty." If the customer asks, swipe the generic card!"

"If there is a candidate list for that TV show where bosses are working at the employee level, Steve Burd's name should be at the top. I forget my loyalty card in the car -- I do not have a wallet or a keychain. I know the cashier for over 3 years and the cashier knows me. Now Steve Burd is putting my personal relationship with the cashier at risk by not understanding that I left my loyalty card in the car? This is bad micro-management at best! So what's going to happen is the customer behind me is going to say "here, use my loyalty card," something Safeway didn't consider in this social engineering design."

"Suffice to write: any barrier to pleasing a customer is foolish."

If you want to shop and get the discounts ...

get a freaking card. How does anyone forget them? Put it on your keychain. Using another car? Put the full-size card in your wallet. Privacy issues? Please ... no such thing anymore. There should be some benefit to those of us who shop there and have the card they require. If you want all the benefits, plan on 'paying' for the footprint ... or go shopping someone's garage sale or flea market.

I think all this hullaballoo is people just being p!ssy. If I were behind someone who didn't have the card but wanted the discounts, I'd be perturbed with THEM, not the cashier who can't swipe a generic card. I'm not signed up for Just For You or any of those kinds of deals. Do I claim my right to them? No, I don't and I accept that I'll miss those deals.

You got dressed before you went out the door, didn't you? Gas in the car? Buck up, get organized to get the deals, realize privacy is fast becoming a moot point, and QUIT HOLDING UP MY LINE with your ridiculous excuses. They don't fly. Geez.

safeway card comments

We opened our Safeway card on Vacation because they would not give us the discount without one. My husband was so proud when we used the card again on another vacation. The Fresh Values Card is Dominicks would not work at the Safeway store. But on the otherside I know they are tracking what I buy, but WHY have a card if EVERYONE gets it. Why can't we just pick a random number and use it for every store and get rid of the crazy tags??? We were at a Randall's(Arizona)food and they nicely swiped a card for us when I showed them we were not from there area and did not have a Randall's near us.


The Fresh Values card worked fine for me at 3 different Safeways in different states.


I used to shop at Safeway (right down the street) and had a loyalty card. The variety of merchandise was so bad we stopped going. They also looked like a third world country was running the store. I always thought if there was something so unbelievably cheap I would go in and just give them my phone number. Maybe not anymore? That is ok, I am also one of those that usually pays in cash and refuses to use a loyalty card due to the problems people have and the privacy. I also don't use facebook. I do know I am tracked printing coupons but you have to give up somewhere to save money. Since WalMart matches ad prices I just ad match without all the hassle.
I do however, believe this new rule is ridiculous for those that do use loyalty cards and LOVE the idea of someone behind letting customer use their card. :-)

Why I don't shop there!

I was so frustrated at Dominick's when I would forget my card and I was just stopping in for say, a flower on Easter that was on sale, and I couldn't get the sale price. I have left many an item there. They do of course let you give them your phone number, but I didn't have my own card and tried to give my mom's number, but she had her card for so long it turns out it was under the old area code. I was so mad at them that instead of using a generic loyalty card like Jewel does they made me recite a couple different phone numbers trying to locate a card and then refusing to give me the sale price. Thankfully I no longer live in an area with Safeway and shop at family owned stores where they will enter a loyalty card when I forget mine!

THere is a reason...

That many of the chains, including Safeway, Albertson's, CVS, and others have loyalty cards. It is so they can track your shopping history. It's the reason the J4U on Dominick's personlized deals can be sorted by "purchase history." If you don't use your cars, they aren't getting their data.

I do think it's ironic that when I click on the article, the first thing the site wants me to do is register! ;)

Cashier swiped a general fresh values cards a few days ago

Hi- Friday when I was waiting in line at Dominick's somebody came up to open another checkout lane, and asked me to move over to his lane. Before I unloaded my cart, I laid down my fresh values card, so he could scan it. I noticed that some of my J4U offers did not get applied, and so I went to customer service. As I was leaving the store, I noticed on the bottom of my receipt that my name was not there. He must have scanned another card instead of scanning my card.

Why are people angry..

I do not understand this fake obssession with privacy, I know people that put EVERY mundane detail of their lives in their Facebook status and then turn around are outraged that Dominick's knows they prefer Cottonelle over Charmin, really people are your grocieries that big of a secret?

Yes exactly! Stores use loyalty cards to track your purchases.
Coupons and sales, (you know those things we hold so dear, the reason we are on this blog) are MARKETING TOOLS. If companies can not measure the effectiveness of their marketing, they can not build programs that are profitable for them (the whole reason companies are in business is to make money not give you FREE stuff). Sales, coupons, free samples are all based on information that tracking programs offer. So if you want to reap the rewards you need to give a little (in the form of info).

Not the issue

I don't think that's the issue at all here - I know some people are quite concerned with privacy. I think the larger issue is that if someone forgets their card, it's just not good customer service to "punish" people in the lane... especially if you want them to return to the store in the future.

Hate the fact that my name is on my Dominick's receipt

Hi- I hate the fact that the cashiers at Dominick's are required to look at my receipt before they hand it too me, so they can call me by my name. I think that is an invasion of privacy.

Apply for a new card

as Valued Customer.


("Valued Customer" is my FAVORITE pseudonym for coupon registration and loyalty cards!)

I guess I don't see the point

Why have a loyalty program if you are just going to give that discount to everyone? Then just go back to advertised sales and free my keychain of the 40 plastic tags and free the schedule of the time I take to load deals on my card.

Most stores if you forget your card will look it up by phone number. But for people that plain out don't want to sign up I agree don't give them the discount. -- Hence the term LOYALTY program.

That just turns customers off

Hi- If the store my sister visits that has a loyalty card program, did not allow her to receive the discount without applying for a card, then she would not go in the store.
I love the J4U program at Dominick's, but for people that don't have a computer, or don't even have an email address, they are being penalized. That includes many seniors, and people in poor neighborhoods.

I took somebody into Dominick's a few weeks ago, and handed her a $5 frozen coupon, and showed her what she could buy with it, and I told her I could get her cheap ice cream. I then went with her to the checkout, and handed the cashier my fresh values card. and my friend got $15 worth of groceries for $3 thanks to me. She usually only shops at Aldi's because it is cheaper. She does not have a computer, or an email address.

My sister refuses to get a loyalty card

Hi- One of my sisters that lives in New Orleans, refuses to sign up for a loyalty card, because of privacy issues. One of the stores she shops at down there does use a loyalty card, and she just tells them that she forgot hers, and they scan a generic card so she can still get the deals. She does cut coupons out of the Sunday paper occasionally, so it is not the fact that it is too much trouble, She does not have a facebook account either.

They used to have a loyalty card program at Whole Foods, and they got rid of it, because people thought it was an invasion of their privacy

I feel sorry for people like my sister that want to shop at Dominick's, but refuse to get a loyalty card. At Jewel you can tell them that you forgot your card, and the cashier will scan her own card. When you tell them that at Dominick's, they ask you for your phone number, and so it is impossible to get a discount without a loyalty card.

Hope this helps, Nancy