Waitrose is to put a stop to people who pick up free coffee in stores without making a purchase.
The retailer has refined its free tea and coffee offer, one of the benefits of its loyalty programme MyWaitrose, so only paying customers can pour themselves a hot drink.
Previously, customers could collect a drink as a ‘welcome’ when they entered the store but the new rules will require shoppers to pick up a cup after they complete their checkout.
“We want all our customers to be able to enjoy a free hot drink when they shop with us,” said a Waitrose spokesman. “From 3 April, we’ll simply be asking MyWaitrose members to make a purchase before collecting their cup at the checkout. We would like to thank you in advance for your understanding.”
Members were notified of the changes by email on Tuesday. The move sparked a mixed reaction, with some members welcoming the clampdown as the scheme had attracted “freeloaders” who caused big queues at the self-serve machines.
MyWaitrose member James Murphy tweeted: ‘Finally! Waitrose removes the coffee freeloaders clogging up stores…’
Some purchases - including carrier bags, stamps, tobacco, mobile top-ups, infant milk formula, car park charges, fuel and lottery tickets - can’t be redeemed. However, loose veg purchases are eligible, so members will still qualify even if they buy a single sprout, research by consumer website Moneysavingexpert shows, even if they are not in the spirit of the rule change.