The supermarket has ditched free papers in favour of personalised offers.
If you regularly shop at Waitrose then March’s relaunched MyWaitrose scheme could mean you save more on the things you regularly buy. But you’ll no longer get free newspapers or quarterly vouchers. Here’s what you need to know.
What is MyWaitrose?
The loyalty scheme has gone through a few iterations over the years, but essentially remains the same. Rather than earn points, you get discounts and vouchers to spend in-store. The idea of the revamp is that the vouchers will be based on your previous purchases.
When you sign up you can request a plastic card, or just use a digital card on your phone. To take advantage of the offers you need to scan this card at the till. If you’re shopping online it’ll automatically be applied – as long as you’re signed into your account.
How the new MyWaitrose offers works
Every Wednesday you’ll receive a new selection of discount vouchers. I’m usually shown a choice of six, though terms and conditions say you will be shown two, four or six options.
These are all visible in the MyWaitrose Hub section of the Waitrose website or in the Waitrose app. You can choose two of these and the discount will be valid for use until the following Tuesday.
Vouchers will be based on your shopping history, so you’ll need to make sure you scan your card for any to appear. So the more you scan the card, the greater the variety of offers you’ll see. New users might have to wait two to five weeks before this happens.
You’ll also get additional discounts. For example, at launch there’s 20% off selected counters in-store, either fish, meat, deli or cheese. It’ll change weekly.
The free hot drink (with purchase, and as long as you bring your own cup), returns on 7 November 2022 after a long pause. You can read details of that here.
The Waitrose magazines will also remain free, and there’s 5% off dry cleaning.
How to choose your vouchers
You’ll need to log into your MyWaitrose account either online or via the app. Then you’ll see the options available. Click “choose this voucher”, and then confirm you’re happy to select it. Once you’ve done this that coupon is locked in until the new options the next Wednesday.
If you know your phone has dodgy signal when you get to Waitrose then see if there’s a wifi network you can join (there should be in most stores). Failing that you’ll just have to select your voucher before going in. You can then screengrab you barcodes and those images will scan fine at the till.
If you do this and the item you want is out of stock then you can use it on any product in the category. Terms and conditions state a “reasonable alternative” can be discounted. If this substitution isn’t available you can’t change your voucher.
However in my experience “reasonable alternative” is pretty broad so there should be something else you want to buy at the supermarket.
How to use the vouchers
At launch, the coupons could only used online or via the app. This proved controversial with many customers unhappy, especially those without a smart phone (just read the comments below this article for a taste).
Waitrose quickly said the plan was always “digital-first” and that there would be alternatives in the coming months. Well those alternatives are now active, so below I’ve explained your options.
Via the app
You simply need to scan each voucher at the till for the discount to apply. You’ll find them in the “View vouchers” option of the app. Tap “use now in-store” to see the barcode.
Print at home
A new option added in the summer of 2022 was the ability to print at home. Open up your account on your desktop and once you’ve chosen your vouchers, press” Use now in store”. That will open up a barcode, and below this a link to print the voucher. Just scan the printout at the till to get the discount.
Via online shopping
When you get to the checkout stage, the vouchers you’ve chosen will appear in a “voucher wallet”. As long as the item is in the basket you can select to apply the coupon to your order. Remember there’s a £40 minimum order for online shopping.
What if you can’t use the app or print vouchers?
If you don’t engage at all with the digital version of MyWaitrose, there’s a good chance you’ll receive the old style vouchers in the post. I saw someone at the checkout the other week with these, and they’re the same style you’ll be used to from before the change.
Frustratingly you can’t request switching back to this system as there’s no option to turn this on and off for customers on a case-by-case basis.
Instead you just have to wait and see if you’ll be moved across. Who gets the paper voucher and who doesn’t is decided by algorithms, looking at factors such as how you shop and if you ever use the website. If you’d rather get the coupons in the post I’d suggest never logging into the website or app.
It’s also worth making sure your address is up to date and that you’re opted in for post. If you don’t want to do this online (for the reasons above) or can’t, then you can call 0800 188 884 to do it.
However, the ability to print vouchers at home should help most people who couldn’t use the app.
Are the discounts any good?
The voucher choices I received at the start were all 50p off, but they’ve since increased to between £1 and £4.50 off. In fact most weeks, if I choose the most valuable vouchers, I’ve been able to save £5 to £7.
Assuming I save at least £5 a month and shop once a week, that’s £260 saved over a year. Much better than the old vouchers where I’d get perhaps £10 off each quarter.
Of course, this estimate is based on the vouchers I’ve selected. And the ones I’m offered apply to products I’ve previously bought. So it could be you get vouchers with different values, lower or higher.
And you might also not want to buy the items with the highest value coupon. I’m often shown the same items week after week – and I don’t always need to stock up again so soon.
Double your discounts
If you live with others then they can each have their own MyWaitrose account. This means even if you tend to do all the shopping, you could get them to print out their vouchers or send you screengrabs.
You’ll probably need to also scan their MyWaitrose card rather than yours, but you can add that to your phone using apps like Stocard.
Andy’s Cash Hack
As an experiment, I started using the vouchers not for the specific product listed, but for something in the same range. So a different brand and pack size of toilet roll, or a whole chorizo rather than sliced. And it worked.
Then I took it a step further and just selected the highest value vouchers and applied them at the till, even though I hadn’t scanned that item or anything similar. It worked too!
This can free up your voucher choice, especially if you don’t need or want the discounted items at the time.
Bear in mind if you do this you will be going against the terms and conditions of the offer, so it’s best to stick to items in the same category as the voucher offered.
Plus, I only tried this at the self-service tills – I’m pretty sure staff would check if they are operating the till and there’s always the chance of a self-service spot-check.
What about free newspapers?
Sadly the free newspaper when you spent a tenner ended on 23 February 2022 and this won’t come back. However, it’s possible you might get offered these as part of your weekly offers. The email sent to my mum about the changes said as she regularly bought the Guardian she can still get it free for a limited time.