Science - December 8, 2005

Q&A / Bonuskaart?

‘Heeft u een bonuskaart?’ This is the question cashiers always ask at the Albert Heijn checkout. And by the time you have figured out what it means, the cashier is already on to the next questions: ‘Air Miles? Zegeltjes?’

Have you come across things here in Holland that puzzle you? Send an e-mail to wispr@cereales.nl and you may find the answer in the Wispr the following week.
Discount cards
Albert Heijn introduced its Bonuskaart to give discount on its products. Other supermarkets have similar cards: Edah has its Edahcard, Hoogvliet its Hoogvlietcard. You can get the cards for free at the supermarkets.

But some customers protested that, in the case of Albert Heijn, only card holders benefit from the discounts, and it is only possible to get this card by providing personal details. This way you and your shopping behaviour can be registered. Maybe this is not an immediately problem, but it can be when your personal information is shared with third parties. The information can be used to influence your shopping behaviour by sending marketing material to your home address for example.

As many people complained about this, it is now possible to get an anonymous card at Albert Heijn. But although they don’t have your personal information, your shopping behaviour is still monitored. Some people protest by switching their cards on a regular basis with other people, preferably with those who use a different supermarket chain. This way, you mess up the data analysis.

Trading stamps
If you decide to obtain a discount card, it still may not be the cheapest way of buying groceries. For a long time Albert Heijn was always the most expensive supermarket. A price war has narrowed the differences between supermarkets, but there are still some which remain much cheaper, like the Aldi. However, it can only keep its prices so low by having bad labour conditions for its employees. Some people refuse on principle to do their shopping at this supermarket.

The C1000 is a good compromise. It does not have a discount card, but with the slogan ‘no pranks, that makes a difference’ C1000 tries to attract customers in other ways such as special savings stamps you can use to get free boxes full of groceries.
C1000 is not the only one with trading stamps. In fact, savings stamps are said to be a typically Dutch phenomenon that send many people’s heartbeat soaring. Dutch people just love filling up their coupons. There are hardly any shops that do not have some kind of savings campaign. Even hairdressing salons have them. And when petrol giant Shell wanted to put an end to their savings coupons in 1992, they were boycotted by their Dutch customers. Shell couldn’t reintroduce the stamps quickly enough!

The habit of collecting dies hard, even though electronics have partly taken over. In the good old days, all the stamps had to be licked and stuck on coupons. Nowadays, almost half of Dutch households save Air Miles, not something that will get them free flights, but an electronic way of saving points for gifts or discount.

Market
Whether you should start saving stamps or not depends on the length of time you are here for and on the type of stamps. A short-term stamps campaign is ideal, like the C1000 saving for grocery boxes. Stamps that you save over a longer period may mean you don’t manage to fill the whole coupon.

Nevertheless, for vegetables and foreign food, the cheapest option remains the market and special shops like Toko Indrana in the Salverdaplein and the Turkish shop in the Nude neighbourhood. No discount card is needed at either of these for good prices.

Laurien Holtjer

Next week’s Wb is the last edition before the Christmas break. Q&A will be about things to do in the holiday period. If you have any questions, mail them before Monday 12 December to wispr@cereales.nl.

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