Maccas stingy loyalty card change

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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.