Waitrose free coffee 'attracts wrong sort'

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Waitrose customers are objecting to the company's policy of offering cardholders free tea and coffee, claiming it's attracting the wrong sort of shopper.

In one comment on the company's Facebook page, Waitrose customer Jennifer Huggins said: "Please stop the free coffee at Barry Waitrose - it is putting me off shopping in the store." %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Since last November, the supermarket chain has been offering members of its myWaitrose loyalty scheme a free cup of coffee or tea every day. But, say disgruntled customers, the policy has led to an influx of people just out for their freebie, as no purchase is necessary.

"I am a loyal shopper who is tired of subsidising non customers with free coffee," complained Londoner Nina Tcherno. "There are many cardholders who do not do any shopping, they simply use their card on a daily basis to have a free coffee."

Other customers, though, are fighting back, arguing that the freebies encourage them to shop more - and that the objectors are simply snobs.

"If customers are actually rude to staff then the management should be sensible enough take initiative and to ban them from the store," said regular customer Sarah Coleman.

"It's not right to go around saying chavs aren't allowed in Waitrose or are trouble making, you might as well say that peasants aren't allowed in your castle."

Waitrose says it will consider all comments, but doesn't look likely to end the scheme. "The offer is available to myWaitrose members - they do a large proportion of their shopping with us," it said.

More than a million shoppers have signed up for the card, but this is not the first time that Waitrose has come under fire for its offer of free hot drinks for cardholders.

In September, a Buckinghamshire cafe owner reported the chain to the Office of Fair Trading, claiming his coffee sales had fallen by half due to aggressive marketing and unfair trading by the supermarket chain.

Whether or not his complaint is justified, the promotion has made Waitrose the second-largest supplier of coffee in the UK, said managing director Mark Price.
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