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Supermarket loyalty programs not a fair price to pay: CHOICE

4 in 5 survey respondents think it’s unfair for supermarkets to charge more if you don’t sign up to member schemes.

Last updated: 07 May 2024

New research from CHOICE has revealed 4 in 5 CHOICE supporters think it's unfair for supermarkets to charge higher prices for customers who don't sign up for loyalty programs. 

The survey of over 8,000 CHOICE supporters also found nearly half of respondents were worried about the data being collected about them through loyalty programs.

The research coincides with Privacy Awareness Week (6-12 May), with 'power up your privacy' the theme for this year. 

"The Coles and Woolworths duopoly are quick to tout the benefits of their loyalty programs, but we've found it doesn't always pay to be loyal," says CHOICE Senior Campaigns and Policy Advisor, Rafi Alam.

"Member-only pricing discriminates against consumers who don't wish to share their data by signing up. People shouldn't need to sign up for a loyalty program just to get discounts on products, especially everyday essentials. Our survey found 79% of respondents think it's unfair for supermarkets to charge people more for certain grocery items if they don't sign up to a loyalty program," says Alam.

"To make matters worse, Coles and Woolworths collect excessive amounts of personal data through their loyalty programs, and it doesn't just stay within the scheme. Your data may get shared across insurance, credit cards, phone plans or subsidiary businesses. Sadly, there isn't much transparency on how your data can be used if you sign up," says Alam. 

CHOICE urges the Federal Attorney-General to introduce stronger safeguards for the collection and use of personal data by reforming the Privacy Act to include an obligation for businesses to use our information fairly and reasonably. CHOICE is also calling for a ban on member-only pricing for essential grocery products. 

"It shouldn't be up to consumers to individually navigate their privacy risks to access basic essentials, and we need stronger obligations on businesses to ensure this doesn't continue to be an issue into the future. No one should feel the need to give up their personal information to be able to afford their groceries," says Alam. 

Editor's notes: 

In April 2024, we conducted a survey of over 8,000 CHOICE supporters to gather insights about their attitudes towards supermarket loyalty programs.

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