Home Opinion and Features What’s the story with all the plastic?

What’s the story with all the plastic?


GREY MUTTER: Someone please point me in the direction of the person or people who came up with this concept so that I can write an angry letter and show them some obscene gestures, writes Lance Fredericks.

Story time was my favourite time, until one day when it all fell horribly apart. Picture: Peace, love, happiness from Pixabay

EVEN in this ever-worsening economic climate, readers would be relieved (though some may be envious) to know that I still have a pretty fat wallet.

Yes, despite all the pay cuts and rising prices of grocery, fuel and buckskin oil to keep my head shiny, people still have to take a step back to make space for my bulging wallet when I whip it out at the tills.

Unfortunately, things are not as they seem on the surface, as that fat wad I produce each time has very little actual cash in it. All that fatness is simply my vain hope that an ever increasing number of stores, supermarkets and dealers are going to treat me a little more special.

Sigh … loyalty cards! Someone please point me in the direction of the person or people who came up with this concept so that I can write an angry letter and show them some obscene gestures!

Rumour has it that British supermarket chain Tesco were the pioneers of the modern loyalty card system. Apparently they introduced one of these infernal ‘wallet-bulgers’ back in 1995.

No, I do not have any problem with being rewarded, especially these days where a grocery basket’s price seems to double every few months. I do, though, have a huge problem with carrying these cards around. Personally I find them very, very irritating, especially when the automated voice calls you to a till point and warns you to have your reward cards handy or run the risk of being shamed.

Nowadays even when buying takeaways or eating out at some restaurants, you are asked if you have ‘the app’, and if you are part of the loyalty programme.

I wonder if other customers, while standing in the queue digging through their wallets and purses for that specific loyalty card for that specific store, or trying to remember their login details for their app, ever stop to ask why stores don’t just give all their customers the best service and best prices they can across the board, all the time?

No, don’t answer that question. I know there must be a very, very good reason for it, and if someone tried to explain it to me I wouldn’t understand anyway because I have no interest in marketing, economics and such dark arts. I am one of those old farts who believe that if your service is excellent and your prices reasonable your customers will be loyal without the need for any reward programme.

Some may wonder why it seems as if I fell out of the wrong side of the bed today, so allow me to present this episode illustrating why I am not really impressed with loyalty cards.

Whenever I fill up my car’s tank, I swipe a particular loyalty card. Once I filled up and swiped for an entire year. Then, when I finally got to the department store that had issued the loyalty card, I had acquired enough points to earn R38 in cold, hard cash. OK, on the bright side, I got my lozenges for free that day.

Here’s what that felt like to me.

As a child, the best time ever was story time. At kindergarten, when Teacher – that was the name by which we knew her – called us to the mat in the front of the classroom and read a story to us, I would drink in the experience with relish.

I also have fond memories of those winter nights at home, when Mom – that was the name by which we knew her – would let us snuggle onto the big bed and read to us, while poor Dad sat in the next room marking examination scripts, muttering and mumbling under his breath at the pupils he thought he had taught something, but who were proving him wrong.

Then one day, I must have been about nine or 10 years old at the time, someone – I cannot remember who it was exactly – called a group of us youngsters together with those sweet, tempting words dripping with promise: “Hey kids, must I tell you a story?”

Within seconds we had gathered around, sitting cross legged on the floor, eyes wide and mouths gaping in anticipation. The storyteller proceeded: “It’s a story of Jack and the Glory!”

My mind exploded, heart pounded and, if I remember correctly, tears welled up in my eyes – this was a completely new story. It wasn’t the Frog Prince, East of the Sun and West of the Moon or the Shoemaker and the Elves … this was hot off the presses; I could not contain my excitement.

“Shall I begin it,” the storyteller asked, allowing the tension to build.

I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. “Yes, yes, a thousand times YES!” I screamed in my mind – I was too excited to say any actual words.

I will never forget the barbaric bard’s next words, said with a loud, sadistic chuckle. “There’s nothing in it!”

All I am saying is that I hope I don’t slip into poverty when I eventually get completely fed up with all this plastic in my wallet and just go shopping like we did in the old days ‘Old School’ style.

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