Very much just another blog

The Loyalty Card

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There are many things that influence my decision-making process throughout the day: do I walk the south bank in the morning or snooze on the train? Well that depends on when I go to bed or, more importantly, how quickly I can lever myself out of it when the alarm bell goes. Tomorrow I reckon I’ll snooze. Sometimes my decisions can be more important: do I stay in on Friday night so I can get the cleaning done and have time over the weekend to see my sister, who needs people around just now; or do I go and see my father’s concert rather than sit in elasticated clothes eating ice cream out of the tub and believing that I could win X Factor, if only I’d known when the auditions were (I couldn’t. When I sing I sound like a cat who is drunk. And also on crack). Then there are the decisions in between: they begin on the way to work and are governed almost entirely by the Loyalty Card.

The Loyalty Card, friends, is a weird and wonderful thing. If you have read previous posts you will know that I do not have faith of the religious kind, preferring instead to make sense of what I encounter with science and song, love, my friends and my family. It’s not a sure fire thing but then neither’s God, as far as I can work out, so here I remain on an even footing. I do, however, remain faithful to a loyalty card. It’s been a long term monogamous relationship in which, I have just realised, I am a doormat; but a doormat with points and with excellently moisturised skin.

My first Loyalty Card touch point is on the way into work at Caffe Nero. There is one just down from my office and the people who work there are fast and friendly. They remember what you like, can keep seventy thousand orders in their head at once, and they always stamp your loyalty card. I could, at my train station, buy a tea with skimmed milk, which is my preferred morning beverage, for nearly half the price. And I could easily, having skipped that and waited to get to Caffe Nero, hang on a bit longer and make a cup of tea at work. But no one at work stamps my Loyalty Card and that, I feel, is an oversight. There are nine spots on the Cafe Nero card and once it is filled you get your next cup for free. It’s the most ridiculous non saving event ever. If I was sensible about money the options I have already mentioned would be the obvious avenue. But where, friends, where would be the fun in that; where would be the anticipation? I swear I buy the tea for the stamp not because when I sip it I think it’s the best damn tea in London. It’s not. It’s just tea. With the Loyalty Card, however, it is a tiny adventure; it is, somehow, an achievement. And, at any rate, I am comforted by the fact that in the queue is every sort of person: whether they appear to have slid in on the Rich List or from the soup kitchen ’round the corner, each is clutching a Loyalty Card. At least, I think, at least we are all suckers.

Even as I write this I’m beginning to feel a bit bleak about my position. I work in marketing, I know the deal. But I’m a regular woman, too, and it is this part of me that leads me to the behaviour I am about to reveal. I am leading you to the Boots Advantage Card and my slavery to it.

The Boots Advantage Card is the mother of all loyalty cards. It is the thing that has the most impact on any cosmetic or toiletry buying decision I ever make. I will take you through my last shopping spree in Boots. Last week I was sent, as I am regularly sent, a DM of tokens and offers, all generously providing me with lots of extra points each time I spent £40 or £50. Next time you spend £50, it sang, we will give you 350 points FOR FREE. That’s awesome, I thought: that’s £3.50 that I can spend IN BOOTS. I check the expiry date and plan my trip. Obviously this is a stocking up trip so I will be allowed to go mental. And, also, I will HAVE to go mental because I only need a toothbrush and that will not get me to my target spending goal. When I arrive in Boots everything, EVERYTHING is on a three for two offer. I roll up my sleeves and get to work. There’s something pleasing about purchasing in threes. Here is what I buy:

Number 7 skincare products: everything that says it will prevent the inevitable day when my face falls to my knees as my body realises just how much I have drunk, smoked and partied in the comparatively short length of time I have walked on this world.

Shampoo and conditioner: one of the former, two of the latter, and a combination of which will make my hair thick, glossy and under control. My hair is none of these things; these products are essential.

Toothpaste: Three. Fuckit.

Johnson and Johnson moisturising shower gel. Three. I have two in my ever growing stockpile at home. But a stockpile needs stock. I am good at this game.

Johnson and Johnson facewipe cleansery options: superb. I get through these ultra fast. Talking of which;

No 7 make up: I need the bronzing balls, Velvet Kiss lipstick and something else to bring me to three.

Palmers products. I only need the oil but if I buy one more I get the third free. And Palmers – look – gets rid of stretch marks and makes you beautiful. I don’t have stretch marks but I reckon that’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you. Best to be prepared.

Miscellaneous: Optrex (this one will brighten my eyes, ensuring I look beautiful at all times), Touch éclat. Essential: they should make a full body one. Bad Lash Benefit mascara. Essential. Tampax. Never leave Boots without it. Tissues. Lip balm. Black eye liner. I have three in my handbag alone but it feels comforting to know that I will never run out. Vitamins. I will, obviously, only take these for a week but it’s three for two so as long as I find the right place to keep them I am making a saving and, in many ways, STORING health. Well done me.

I heave my basket to the checkout and extract my tokens from my bag. D’you know, I can’t think of anywhere else I would bother with a token, but I am powerless to Boots and, yes, I’m about to get a points hit, a heavenly points hit. The Boots staff are trained for people like me. I have spent well over fifty pounds but, with a careful approach to paying: doing it in chunks, the man helps me use three tokens. That’s, like, nearly a million points. I’m grinning like a fool now. You’ve got £44.79 on your card he tells me. Wicked! I reply, I’m going to buy perfume with it.

My perfume costs £50. In the time it has taken me to accrue £44.79 I have spent three million pounds. I could clearly just have bought it, I’d even have got points. But that is NOT the point. The point is that I want to buy it with my Advantage Card. I want to feel that I can reward my careful purchasing decisions with the prize of perfume. I am a screaming buffoon. I have A level maths, I have a degree, I can tie my own shoe laces. I’m still a blithering fucknut.

As I leave the store I wonder which group my name sits in when Boots curate their mail out. I’ve handed them all the information they need: my favourite products, my determination to reach a spending target. I bet there are women who are offered the same points for a smaller spend. Perhaps I should write to them and beg for mercy, or maybe a tweet will invoke compassion. It won’t, actually; they don’t operate in social spaces which is a shame and missed opportunity for them really: I can think of a million friendly connections, experiences to share and enticing timely offers which would ensure my complete captivity to the brand. Ha! Hear that Boots: I am nearly almost a free woman.

Having cast my eyes over this meandering tale I have realised that the relationship I have described to you is the longest committed relationship I have ever been in, eclipsing even seven years with the writer. Oh no. Smoking. I’ve been smoking for-fucking-ever. It’s OK, though; I bought some cream for that.


Written by elikafm

November 11, 2010 at 1:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elika, Elika, Claire, Christian Hunt, McMucca and others. McMucca said: Need to cheer up? Feel some empathy? Sisters? https://elikafm.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/the-loyalty-card/ […]

  2. I lost my Boots Advantage card about six months ago and have deliberately never replaced it. I’m FREE, you hear me, FREE!

    Of course, now I just keep trying spend £10 in Superdrug, because if you do that, you get 10% off. It’s a different type of indenture, but I no longer carry a card.


    November 11, 2010 at 10:03 am

  3. Do you have a Nectar card?


    January 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

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