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Maccas stingy loyalty card change

TIMES are tough at Macca’s.

The fast-food giant may be making billions from Aussie customers, but they wont be rewarded for their repeat business if this sneaky move is anything to go by.

Spot the difference on these loyalty cards:

While McDonalds likes to reward loyal customers with free coffee after a certain number of purchases, they will now have to work a bit harder for their freebie.

Previously, visiting a McCafe regularly would score you a free coffee after every four purchases effectively a 20 per cent saving on your coffee budget.

But Maccas has begun rolling out an updated, slightly stingier version. Customers will now have to buy five coffees to get a free one a 16.7 per cent saving.

McDonalds, which pulled in around $5 billion in sales at its 955 Australian stores in 2016, apparently found McCafe customers were getting a little itoo/i loyal.

A number of franchisee restaurants, which make up 80 per cent of McDonalds stores, had already adopted the sixth-coffee-free model.

But McDonalds confirmed that its company-owned stores were following suit in the 2017 versions of the loyalty cards.

While stretching out the free coffee by one purchase may seem like a low move to customers, the impact on McDonalds bottom line and the bottom line of individual stores would be significant.

Coffee accounts for around 10 per cent of McDonalds sales. Even if only a fraction of customers use the free coffee card, the minor change could amount to serious savings.

With more than 800 outlets in Australia, McCafe is the countrys largest coffee chain. But it is facing tough competition in the convenience market from the likes of 7-Eleven and its $1 coffee, or Coles Express and its new 80 cent option.

Newcastle resident and regular customer Stewart, who travels to the country for work, says he drinks several cups a day and spends around $30 a week at McDonalds, more than I should.

But he said the change, which he noticed in December, made him rethink his routine.

I vary where I buy them from, he said. Cafes, McDonalds, but increasingly Im buying from 7-Eleven and Coles [Express] as they are having a coffee battle and both have pretty good deals and loyalty promotions.

My wife locks in her petrol price on the 7-Eleven app and gets free coffees. Maccas seems to have taken the Qantas approach to loyalty.

Stewart said it was clearly an attempt to boost profit. At the end of the day they can give away what they want for free, but I think most people wouldnt notice the slight difference on the card, he said.

A McDonalds Australia spokeswoman said there was definitely no national directive to franchisees regarding the loyalty cards. Franchisees are free to set their own promotions, she said.

Theyve always had the ability to do what they want in their market. But whether its every fifth or sixth coffee, we still think its pretty generous a lot of cafes only offer every 10th.

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New ford everest suv catches fire during a test drive destroyed by the blaze

FORD Australia is conducting an investigation into what caused its latest model — the new Everest SUV — to suddenly burst into flames during a test drive.

The car maker is yet to issue a recall until it examines the wreckage.

But the incident could affect not only the 1000 or so Everest SUVs on the road, but more than 100,000 Ford Ranger utes, which share the same engine and electrical system and are made on the same production line.

One of News Corp Australias motoring journalists, Peter Barnwell, was road testing the just-released new model which was designed and engineered in Australia but is built in Thailand when warning lights started to appear before the instrument display went blank and the engine shut down.

As I rolled to a stop it just burst into flames, said Mr Barnwell. There were flames licking out from under the bonnet.

The fire brigade arrived within five minutes but it took them more than 20 minutes to extinguish the flames.

They couldnt put the fire out for ages, said Mr Barnwell. Some of the material wouldnt extinguish. There were explosions and bits of shrapnel firing 50m down the road. I got as far away from the thing as I could.

The fire quickly engulfed the front of the car before working its way towards the cabin.

A mum with all seats occupied with little kids or babies would have struggled to get them all out, especially if the thick acrid smoke wasnt being blown to the side by a strong crosswind, said Mr Barnwell.

Ford Australia spokesman Wes Sherwood said this is the first incident of this type.

We are not aware of similar reports regarding the new Everest, the new Ranger or the previous Ranger, said Mr Sherwood.

The fire happened late Tuesday on Redhead Road near Newcastle on the NSW central coast, about 175km north of Sydney.

The burnt wreckage was due to arrive late Wednesday at Ford Australias engineering headquarters in Melbourne, where a thorough investigation will be conducted.

We want to assure customers were doing everything we can to investigate the matter, said Mr Sherwood.

Ford says a recall would be premature until they know the cause of the incident.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling