Anyone who has read my Twitter Feed will know that I am a little obsessed with Coffee. Costa is currently my favourite of the big chains. As a fan of good service, good coffee and contractual consistency, despite having many other things to think about, I have recently become embroiled in a Costa related customer services shambles. You may be amused, and ultimately heartened, by the ensuing email chain……
Dear Customer Service
Dear Customer Service
I currently use the Costa Coffee shop in Chineham near Basingstoke. I have a local 10% discount card that is valid for 1 year (sponsored by destination Basingstoke) and I have been using it for sometime. I recently got the new Coffee Club card in Oxford and decided to use it at the Chineham shop. Some staff have allowed it and some have not, on one occasion the response was quite terse – strange since the card is supposed to engender loyalty I thought – and so I called the customer services number on the card. I was informed that there was no problem with both cards being used simultaneously. When I told the staff at Chineham they did not believe me so I have mostly just ignored the card. This week one of the staff asked if I had the coffee club card and I replied I do but you won’t let me use it, he invited me to hand over my card and applied both the discount and the club card. The next visit this action was stopped by another member of staff, I explained that I really wasn’t bothered whether they scanned the card or not, as a regular customer it is important for me not to fall out with them and feel uncomfortable visiting the branch. I pointed out that I had called the customer services and been told that they can use both cards. Today she told me she had also called customer services and been told that she was correct and they should only accept one discount card. Promptly asking me which one I wish to use – the PERK card is 10% discount and the Coffee Club is 5% - my answer is obvious really. May I ask that you answer in writing which of the advice is correct?
From: Natalie.OHara@Whitbread.com [mailto:Natalie.OHara@Whitbread.com] On Behalf Of Costa.Coffee.Club/Whitbread@Whitbread.com
Sent: 28 April 2010 15:54
To: McDermott, James
Subject: Re: Confusion
Thank you for your email to Costa Coffee. I apologise for a delay in a response.
I can confirm that you are unable to use both discounts together, as per the terms and conditions.
I apologise for any inconvenience.
Whitbread Guest Relations Team
Thank you Natalie.
May I ask to which clause in the terms and conditions you are referring?
I have not received a reply yet to my email. I have reviewed the terms and conditions that are published on the website and I cannot see which clause restricts the use of the card. Can you help?
From: Lyn.Rolland@Whitbread.Com [mailto:Lyn.Rolland@Whitbread.Com]
Sent: 26 May 2010 13:41
To: McDermott, James
Dear Mr Mcdermott,
I would just like to update you on the below. having looked into this in depth. Unbeknown to us, the terms and conditions should have been changed when we launched the card nationwide. I don't know if you were aware that we were trialing it in Scotland for a year, but we never changed the terms and condtions during the trail as we really did not know if the scheme would be a success. I therefore apologise for the confusion that has been caused. You will see now that the terms and conditions have been updated.
I am aware that you therefore lost out on some discount that you may previously been entitled to therefore I would like to add 200 points to your Costa Card if you would be so kind as to forward the full card number.
Guest Relations Costa
From: McDermott, James
Sent: 26 May 2010 14:13
Subject: RE: LR
Thank you for your response. The 200 points is very much appreciated. I was not aware of your trial in Scotland but I am glad Costa has now settled on terms and conditions for this loyalty card scheme that are consistently applied and communicated to all of the branches and franchises.
I do realise that managing the franchises with a central global brand must be a significant undertaking but as a regular user of Costa I am consistently disappointed with the response when I present any of the discount cards. I stopped at the M4 services franchise on Sunday and the response to my polite question about if they took the card was dreadful, in your role as guest relations you would have cringed. Thankfully the coffee was fantastic!
Thank you again for responding to my question.