Waitrose customers have complained the vouchers they have been receiving are not in line with their shopping habits

Waitrose customers have said they are turning to rival supermarkets over claims the upscale grocer’s loyalty programme did not make them feel “valued”.

Users of the MyWaitrose loyalty scheme have complained of high spending thresholds to qualify for discounts offered in postal vouchers, saying the thresholds are not in line with their shopping patterns, according to a Waitrose customer service source.

Some shoppers also felt the latest paper vouchers to be received did not leave them enough time to redeem the discounts. 

Complaints from customers over the high spending thresholds have been coming via social media and Waitrose’s customer service phone channels.

Older customers in particular have been hitting the customer service lines in recent weeks after receiving a batch of eight ‘Spend £80/save £8’ coupons to be used within four weeks.

“The mailings are purported to be personalised and the recipients are calling in saying that they struggle to spend £40 weekly and why are we sending them such high-value vouchers?” the customer service source said.

“People are calling asking for smaller value vouchers that they can afford to use.

“These customers don’t feel valued and they say that they are going to other shops who send them offers they can actually use.”

About a quarter of the phone call complaints that Waitrose customer service is currently getting are related to the loyalty vouchers, The Grocer understands.

One Waitrose shopper posted on the retailer’s Twitter feed: “I received eight vouchers through the post today £20 off a £200 shop, you sent me eight to spend by 22 November. Who spends £1600 in a fortnight on groceries please explain!”

It is understood some of the vouchers were received late by shoppers due to recent postal strikes.

Prior to the revamping of the MyWaitrose scheme earlier this year, customers would get their batch of paper vouchers twice a year, which they could redeem throughout a period of months, not weeks.

The supermarket relaunched the old programme in February to make it more personalised, offering shoppers “tailored” rewards based on their habits.

But eight months on, shoppers are still frustrated that the algorithm fails to offer them discounts and money-off vouchers on the items they buy most frequently.

One Twitter user pointed out: “Week after week I get the same items offered mostly for things that I would never buy weekly (or even monthly). Very frustrating.”

Read more: Will MyWaitrose loyalty card reboot win back sceptics after axing all the free stuff?

“The personalised rewards are still a bone of contention,” the customer service source said.

They said recent technical issues linked to a software update had caused “major problems”, with some customers not receiving their email vouchers at all in the past couple of weeks.

“There are some customers who are not receiving the weekly email to advise them their vouchers are ready. Consequently, they are not getting the rewards as they can only access them via the email.”

Several recent social media posts from people who did not receive their email vouchers corroborated this.

However, Waitrose customer director Martin George maintained the vouchers were “tailored to each of our customers” and “based on their individual shopping habits”.

“We know they’re a popular way of saving and we’re already seeing thousands of customers using them each week,” he told The Grocer.

“We’re really sorry to hear that some customers feel they don’t hit the mark, though. We listen to all feedback and will be making sure these points are taken on board for the next batch.”

Following the changes to the MyWaitrose programme, which included personalised rewards and discounts across the supermarket’s fresh food counters, Waitrose also recently brought back its popular free coffee offer in a bid to retain customers.