As someone posted a reply from David Horne to the Save East Coast Rewards Facebook page. As the message has been posted in the public domain I decided to dissect it. I have never shared any private conversations on here and never will in the future.

I will add my comments inline.

Hi Darren

Many thanks for your email and for getting in touch.

The decision to switch from Rewards to Nectar was taken several months ago when we were tendering for the business. A detailed piece of research was conducted to understand what it was our customers wanted, in recognition of their loyalty to our business.

  • They've mentioned this consultation many times, there were under 2000 people surveyed, EC Rewards members weren't specifically questioned and they won't reveal the questions asked to prove it was a fair survey

The research found that people wanted us to offer a loyalty scheme and they wanted us to offer a mainstream scheme which they were already members of, and which gives multiple benefits.

  • Do you mean the people asked hadn't heard of East Coast Rewards so they chose the one they heard of?

With this in mind, Nectar was chosen due to its already high profile within the UK and indeed it was the scheme which most people already held. We are now committed to Nectar (and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, which we offer as an alternative) and we are not in a position to offer Rewards as an alternative option.

  • Any reason why? Is it contractual? If you can offer Virgin Atlantic Flying Club surely you can offer Rewards alongside Nectar, you've already added the ability to transfer between Rewards and Nectar so why not keep it running?

Amongst its advantages, Nectar enables us to offer rewards to more customers and there is no minimum spend threshold, as there was with the previous East Coast scheme.

  • East Coast Rewards had NO minimum spend requirement on East Coast tickets, the minimum spend was for non-East Coast tickets, which no longer earn anything on the VTEC website

It would be fair to say that the majority of our customers are in favour of the changes that we are making,

  • That's not what I'm seeing. Where's all the 'we love Nectar' posters on Twitter and Facebook, surely our 'little' protests would be drowned out by the praise? Also every time EC sent out an email on the run up to the changes the number of Twitter followers of this campaign jumped up

I am confident that the added benefits the new scheme brings will give a greater range of opportunities to our customers. We have already seen a considerable take up of Nectar amongst customers buying tickets, and indeed in switching Rewards points for Nectar points.

  • What are these greater ranges of opportunities? All the partners in the world doesn't make £2.55 off something better than a free ticket. As for the considerable take up, is that because people see it as the only option if they're not a frequent flyer? Are these people converting to Nectar just those with small balances transferring their leftover points?

I am concious that some existing customers who enjoyed the free travel benefits of East Coast Rewards will miss these benefits in future. We are planning certain things to ensure that our high value customers are rewarded, so watch this space. It is also important to recognise that customers will benefit significantly from our exciting plans to build on the good work East Coast have done in the last five years, including our plans to reduce Standard Anytime fares from May of this year.

  • Saying that there's some that enjoyed free travel is the understatement of the century! Why is looking after the high spending customers an afterthought, but you wanted to reward loyal Sainsbury's shoppers with a few quid off their train fare? It's obvious these extra rewards for high value customers weren't part of the original plan otherwise you'd have had them ready for launch day. I can't see many people benefiting from the Anytime price drop, as these fares are so expensive on the long distance routes they must only account for a small portion of the sales.

Thank you for making contact with me, customer feedback is important to us and something we look at carefully when reviewing the services we offer.

  • Let's see in a few months!

Kind regards

David Horne
Managing Director