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.
At Safeway's annual investor conference in early March, 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.
The data serves as the backbone of its new Just For U marketing program, which offers special deals to individual customers based on their purchasing history. Safeway takes steps to assure customers aren't inconvenienced despite requiring enrollment in its program for any deals.
"We have a very quick in lane sign-up process so you can get the benefits of being a loyalty card carrier in our stores," said Mr. Burd.
As an extra step, Safeway has guards in place to prevent associates from providing free-swipes on their own.
"We also have a fraud protection function in our stores," said Mr. Burd. "So that if the checker were swiping because maybe there was a reward going with increasing your own purchases, we'd be able to detect that in a matter of less than an hour. And we'd be able to shut that down. So we have been working on maintaining the integrity of our data for a long time."
Should stores let shoppers who have forgotten or lack loyalty cards gain reward savings?