LEE BOYCE: Bring back loyalty rewards

Lee Boys: Why wouldn’t John Lewis want loyal, reliable customers using his credit cards?

Another week, another Money Mail mailbag full of complaints about John Lewis credit cards.

Dozens and dozens of you have written to us over the past seven days afraid of having to reapply for a card you’ve used for years, only to be told “the computer says no”.

One theme that runs through all of your messages is bewilderment. Many of you can’t understand why you were rejected and feel hurt.

Rejected: Most of those who get rejected for a new John Lewis credit card are people who pay their spending bills very hard

Rejected: Most of those who get rejected for a new John Lewis credit card are people who pay their spending bills very hard

And I totally get it. You shop faithfully at John Lewis and Waitrose for years, put all your spending on the company’s credit cards (which have been marketed to you as a loyalty reward scheme, by the way) and pay the balance in full every month without fail.

You consider owning a John Lewis card a badge of honor and a nod to the brand you love. Then, seemingly without rhyme or reason, you have it all in your face.

It hasn’t escaped my mind that many of the odd Money Mail mailbag rejections relate to customers over the age of 70. Surely a company like John Lewis wouldn’t refuse someone because of their age?

John Lewis strongly denies any reference to ageism. In fact, she says, the acceptance rate for retired clients is higher than for those still working.

I’m willing to take John Lewis’s word that this is not “aging discrimination.” But I can’t help but wonder if the application standards used by the new credit card supplier, NewDay, are somehow to blame.

Let’s not forget that in all sorts of areas of our financial lives, seniors inadvertently end up with the worst deals. It is not necessarily intentional. Take savings rates, for example. All the best offers for customers who have access to the Internet.

For the younger generations, this is not the skin of their nose. But for a generation uncomfortable with the internet, that often means accepting worse-than-its-egg returns.

Or take payment for parking. Increasingly, parking lot operators are tearing up coin machines and making us use mobile apps.

Some older readers have told me that the switch has prevented them from going into town to go shopping or to meet a friend.

I hope I’m wrong, but it wouldn’t surprise me that somehow—despite trying to be fair to everyone—that John Lewis’ credit-card supplier inadvertently rejects some oldies because they don’t fit into their neat boxes.

This wouldn’t matter much if we were dealing with a regular credit card that gets whipped up for the masses.

But the people John Lewis dumped are current customers. They want to continue using their cards after establishing themselves as reliable borrowers. In other words, John Lewis is turning away some of his biggest fans.

To her credit, the company is listening to our concerns. She has reviewed the many refusals we have given her and works hard to ensure that customers are treated fairly.

That’s all we ask. Of course, not every customer who applies for a financial product should be accepted.

But surely loyalty—and reliably paying our bills each month—should be our top priority when credit card companies decide who to take on as customers.

NS&I envy

It is safe to say that I am environmentally friendly with the envy of those who have maintained index-linked certificates with National Savings and Investments. The accounts look almost legendary, since they haven’t been offered for sale for 11 years.

But while Britain’s biggest banks continue to give savers a crude deal, those who have patiently held onto certificates are now seeing it rain interest.

There are 345,000 savers with them and I’m sure many of them will be Money Mail readers. They usually pay the equivalent of CPI plus 0.01 piece, for two, three or five years.

I’d like to see them come back, but that’s wishful thinking in today’s high inflation environment. You can keep reinvesting your money and interest in it, but you can’t add new money.

NS&I tells me about £17 billion is held in it at an average investment of £49,400.

Are you still holding them? I’d like to hear about how long you’ve been taking it and how much interest you’re getting. . . And jealousy with jealousy.



Leave a Comment