Flybuys cancelled points to be returned

The nation’s largest and most valuable loyalty points program Flybuys blamed a “technical problem” for as many as 600,000 of members being wrongly issued with boosted points when shopping at Coles and began cancelling the points – but in a gesture of goodwill has now reversed that decision.

The erroneously issued points would have seen potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of points earned over the last two months and stored up on Flybuys members accounts instantly snuffed out by the loyalty card operator.

Around 7 per cent of Flybuys accounts have been affected by the technical issue when shopping at Coles, this equated to just under 600,000 households holding around 800,000 cards.

A message from Flybuys sent to millions of households over the weekend alerted them to the incorrect issuing of points to them when it was used at Coles supermarkets and that these points would now need to be revoked.

“Over the last 2 months Flybuys has enabled you to boost your points balance at Coles across categories such as produce, chilled dairy, and biscuits, through offers made available each week,” the message from Flybuys reads.

“Unfortunately, some points have been incorrectly awarded contrary to the terms and conditions of the offer.

“After discovering the technical problem, we are removing those incorrectly awarded points from your balance and ensuring your balance is in line with the terms and conditions.

“We are very sorry to have caused you any inconvenience.”

However, in a quick backflip, Coles and Flybuys have decided to return the cancelled points, or not cancel the points handed over, in a gesture of goodwill.

A spokesman for Flybuys and Coles said: “Over the past few days, Flybuys has emailed a number of Coles customers to let them know they had been incorrectly awarded bonus Flybuys points due to an administrative error on some of their purchases at Coles.

“As a gesture of goodwill, Coles and Flybuys have decided to honour the points for customers who received them in error, and we are working to restore them to customer balances as soon as possible,” he said on Monday.

“We apologise to Flybuys members for the inconvenience and have reviewed our procedures to prevent similar occurrences in future.”

Flybuys is jointly owned by Coles and Perth-based conglomerate Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers – which owns Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks – and Coles account for around half of all points used in Flybuys at point of sale.

Established in 1994, Flybuys is Australia’s most popular loyalty program with more than 8 million members who get access to points when shopping at a range of retailers like Coles as well as 25 other partners including some of Australia’s largest retailers like Kmart, Target, Bunnings, Officeworks, and Optus.

As the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions ended, Australians rushed to spend their Flybuys points at their favourite retailers over 2021.

Shoppers directed millions of their stored up Flybuys points away from travel and other experiences and into redeeming discounts at the shops as the lockdown spending spree saw the total number of Flybuys points issued in 2021 leap 14 per cent, according to recent Flybuys accounts lodged with the corporate regulator. That 14 per cent jump in issued Flybuys points was the largest increase for a number of years.

Like the rest of the retail sector, Flybuys was impacted by the lockdowns through 2021 and closed domestic borders, with one of its key partners airline Virgin’s Velocity program and in general members using less points for travel.

Loyalty Pacific, the company that houses Flybuys, reported a drop in net loss to $10.8m for 2021 from $11.83m a year earlier, although the business is not run to earn a profit but rather support Wesfarmers and Coles with a loyalty program.


Extracted from The Australian

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