Mar 31, 2011

Shopping: Its Own Reward

The Colorado chain of retailers is the latest big corporation seemingly set to crumble in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Remember that? It was going to be the End of the World before 2011 decided to rain some "for realz" apocalyptic nastiness down upon us. Oh, for the simple days of mortgage stress.

Without wanting to upset any of the group's 3800 staff - whose entitlements hopefully remain secure as administrators are appointed - to be honest, I'm not that surprised.

Sure, Mathers and Williams sell reasonably nice shoes, and Diana Ferrari has some lovely dresses, but Colorado itself remains a puzzling mix of what I like to call "Adventure Dad Wear" - chunky sandals, excessively pocketed shorts and coral-coloured chambray shirts. And that's just the women. Honestly, there can't be that many pockets of undiscovered country out back of North Lakes or Forest Lake or Springfield Lakes or any of those other 'burby developments that throw in a "lake" to make the scream of your neighbour's bratty toddlers seem altogether more "tranquil".

This man is wearing Colorado,
so we can't show you his face.

Look, it's unfair of me to bag out Colorado. I have actually shopped there on occasion - mainly due to the often fantastical discounts that they constantly seem to be offering.

Now I know why.

I found the timing of the company's near-collapse amusing, as only about a month ago I joined the Colorado Group's rewards program, entitled "Fusion". Ever since I've been receiving email offers manically hurling discounts and special offers from all of its various outlets my way. I guess they were desperately trying to stave off the inevitable.

I'm a member of a number of reward schemes. My Coles FlyBuys card is still an old one linked to my parents' account, which is fantastic. I like the arrangement because it means my Mum will drop 'round a few times a year with a $20 gift card. My Mum likes it because it means she gets to see me (I'm a cruel and uncaring daughter).

My Myer One card is yet to offer any booty; I've only been a member for a few months and you have to spend some sort of ridiculous amount like $2000 every four days to qualify for a $20 voucher.

And some of you would be aware of my obsession with Priceline - every so often they send out little replica cheques to ClubCard members, each listing a laughably specific voucher amount such as $4.21 or $7.59. I love getting these cheques - but I always manage to misplace them before remembering to stash them in my handbag.

Now I realise, of course, that most of these rewards cards are utter bollocks. There are either too many strings attached, or not nearly enough reward for your spending effort.

My saddest ever rewards claim was for budget chain store Fashion Fair. Along with Supre and the now-defunct Warehouse for Fashion, FF was one of the first retailers back in the mid-90s to really embrace cheap, disposable glad rags. It didn't matter that the clothing construction was poor; you'd have chucked it in the Vinnies bin before it wore out, and besides, that top was only eight bucks. EIGHT BUCKS.

FF's discount scheme is the same today as it was back then. Every purchase got you a stamp in a little booklet. Once you got ten stamps, you got 10% off your next purchase. It was - and is - the most feeble reward ever.

I remember the first time I filled up a card, and excitedly went in to claim my savings (by spending money, yes, we all appreciate the irony DAD).

The only thing I found that I liked was a grey long-sleeved shirt with an embroidered cat on the front. It as boxy and drab, but it must have had something going for it. I think the cat must have looked particularly sleepy or something. The price of said cute cat shirt? $14.95. Total discount? $1.45.

Pissiest. Reward. Ever. My own fault of course, but still. Even if you spent $100, you'd only get $10 off. And let me tell you in 1996, $90 bought you a shitload of crappy, one-season clothes.

Just the other day I cleaned out my wallet and found a Fashion Fair booklet, with five stamps collected. I have not bought anything in that store since the sizing became too small (that's my excuse); goodness knows why I was still carrying the damn thing around.

I also chucked out my Gloria Jeans frequent coffee sipper card - I don't drink coffee and am trying to avoid too many TimTam frappucinos, and besides, I heard they give all their profits to the Hillsong Church and I'll be buggered if I'll help Guy Sebastian and/or Jesus sell more records.

What rewards cards do you have - and have any of them ever been useful?


  1. Colorado also falls into one of those retail gaps where nothing actually fits actual humans.

  2. Krispy Kreme were my customer loyalty card anecdote source. I would get one donut every three months or so. The stamp would change every two years, so I could track my progress. I had a mournful look from the manager when claimed by free coffee and two donuts, three years after I received the card. She had a look "This is why we fail, over three years to eat twenty donuts."

  3. Maybe I'm weird, but I love Colorado. Their clothes last *forever*, are comfortable and generally fit me well. They seem to be one of the few stores that make age-neutral casual for guys.

    Oh well. I may just have to go shopping and stock up.

  4. I've started feeling really miserly using my Woolworths fuel card. When it started that 4c a litre seemed like a lot. 90c down to 86c? That's a saving of 4.5% but now that it's $1.40 down to $1.36, Well that's a saving of 2.9%. Now that saving of $1.60 just feels like splitting hairs.

    I'll tell you what though. I still miss the Subway stamp books. There was nothing that made you feel like a king of kings more than picking up a free foot long sandwich.

  5. Ikea Family for the win!

    Unlimited coffee (ie - brownish water), offers of sleepovers with the sort of people that don't just shop at Ikea but fantasise about spending the night there, and even cheaper prices on stuff you don't need with strange names.

    How can you lose?