Tesco customers are having nightmares trying to use the key fobs sent out with their new contactless Clubcards. Some shoppers have found that they don't work on some of the self-service tills, and as a result they are missing out on all their points. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
Tesco is spending a small fortune updating its Clubcards, and posting out new contactless cards to its 17 million card holders. In the envelope with each contactless card are a couple of key fobs, which are supposed to make life easier for those who don't want to add to the endless cards in their wallet, or to fish it out each time they shop.
However, far from making life easier, the new key fobs are adding yet more frustration to the shopping experience.
Instead of having a barcode like the old cards, they have a QR code, which you are supposed to be able to scan at the tills. Unfortunately, the key fobs aren't scanning at some of the self-service checkouts.
Maureen Pryor was one of those who took to the Tesco Facebook page to complain, pointing out she, "never had any problems with my old one but told by assistant that new ones won't scan". Christo Sofianos reported the same issue on Twitter. He said he had to "go to tills to get them to use barcode reader". Carlo Perrelli-Lorak added: "So Tesco sent me a new Clubcard, but the checkouts in store don't accept them. Not the best upgrade! *throws Clubcard in bin".
Tesco says it is aware of the issue, and working to solve it. Customer services told Maureen: "We're currently in the process of updating all our tills to resolve this issue as soon as possible."
However, that's not going down well with the customers who have missed out on collecting their points as a result. One reported on Twitter that he had missed out on a month's worth of points.
Other users assumed that because the roll-out of the new cards introduced contactless technology, the key fobs would too. However, the key fobs don't have any contactless functionality, so those who have tried to use them as contactless cards, assumed they were broken, and missed out on the points.
Meanwhile, some shoppers are just unconvinced that the new cards add anything to their experience, because the old cards didn't require a PIN, and could be easily scanned. Many questioned Tesco's motives, including the Twitter user who asked: "What's with the new contactless Clubcard? Are you going to track us as we move round the stores? What else are you doing with it?"
What can you do?
Whether you are having issues with the new Clubcards or not, there's a handy solution that makes paying at Tesco and collecting Clubcard points easier: the PayQuiq app.
It lets you store your payment card and your Clubcard on the app. When you come to pay, you just open the app and it generates a code for you to pay with. The same code automatically collects your points at the same time, so you don't have to worry about cards or key fobs at all. The app also stores past transactions, so you can keep an eye on what you are spending - which is enormously helpful when you are budgeting.
At the moment you can get 100 extra points each week that you pay with the app - for the first five weeks. It means you can get 500 extra points, which is worth £5 in store - or up to £20 with Clubcard partners - which isn't a bad bonus for using something that's designed to make your life easier and costs you nothing.
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.
There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.
They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.
The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.
It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.
While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.
Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.
However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.
Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.
The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.
If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!
Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.
Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).
It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.