What’s going on with MyWaitrose vouchers?

Customers received random vouchers as part of a “trial”.

If you’re a regular shopper at Waitrose then you’ll be familiar with the MyWaitrose scheme. It used to give you a free newspaper and coupons, but earlier this year moved to “personalised vouchers” via the app.

Some early teething problems (such as how people without a smartphone could access the offers) were overcome, and my initial sceptism was overturned. It was actually much better as I’d be saving money on things I actually bought.

But for some reason, Waitrose has ignored “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and tinkered with the scheme. Here’s what’s happened and what you can do.

What is MyWaitrose?

I won’t repeat here my detailed analysis of the scheme, but essentially every Wednesday you can choose two vouchers from a list of six or so, which will be products you’ve recently brought from the supermarket.

Sometimes it could be a bit repetitive (how many times do you need to buy butter, especially at the latest prices?), but a trick that allowed you to use the voucher on similar products meant this has rarely been a problem.

What has changed?

Last Wednesday, 13 July, it was clear something had changed. Or perhaps gone wrong. The vouchers were all for items I’d never purchased before. Things like lavendar body wash, organic lemon curd, vegan chorizo and choc orange almonds.

But I got off lightly. A quick look on Twitter found these offers for other shoppers:

And though not everyone had nappies, hair products or pet food for non-existant children, hair and animals, it does seem that the majority of offers were for more “out there” products.

By this, I mean things people wouldn’t normally buy. From Dairylea Snackers with Oreo (WTF?!) through to vegan baking fat. Or products that didn’t fit dietary requirements, such as this example of pork offered to non-pork eaters.

Not exactly personalised. To be fair I did spot a few regular items in the photos shared on Twitter, such as essential corn flakes and wild rocket – though the people sharing these all said they wouldn’t normally buy the products there were offered.

Why has this happened?

At first, the response from Waitrose was this was a mistake.

But by late Friday the messaging had changed

I got in touch with the Waitrose press office to find out more. They told me:

  • The new myWaitrose is proving popular, but customers have asked for more variety in their vouchers
  • As such, this week we started a trial amongst a selected number of customers, where we offer suggested products, using the same algorithms as on Waitrose.co.uk
  • We’re taking all feedback onboard, and are already working to fix glitches where customers have been served unsuitable items

Andy’s Analysis

I’m not convinced anyone actually asked for this. Why would you want money off things you don’t normally buy at a time when the cost of living crisis is pushing shoppers to really focus on what foods they need (or can afford) to buy. We want money off the things we actually buy on a regular basis.

As for the use of an algorithm? Some of the examples I found were ridiculous. And perhaps the “glitch” is behind it and will be fixed.

Elsewhere, I can just about see why I got some of the vouchers. I have bought both chorizo and meat substitute products in the past, so it’s not impossible that I’d be interested in vegan chorizo. I’ve also bought jam and hot sauce, so perhaps I would like chilli jam.

Even so, why? I think when customers say they want more variety, it’s because they don’t want to see the same products appear week after week, or vouchers for things they bought one time. Not that they want to try something different.

My take is if they want to improve the offer they should make the vouchers broader, as the old paper ones used to be. So rather, get £1 off this specific vegan chorizo, how about £1 off any meat-free product?

What happens next?

I went back to the Waitrose team to find out if this is a permanent change: They told me:

  • For the next round of offers, all members will receive vouchers based on the products they buy most. 
  • In response to customer feedback, we’ll continue to trial suggested items in the weeks ahead, but these will be offered personalised offers
  • In this case, if customers are unhappy with their products, they can still use it on items in the similar category – i.e. if someone gluten-free was offered a voucher for bread, they would use it on a gluten-free alternative.  They can also speak with our Customer Services team, who’ll be happy to help

So for the time being we’ll continue to see changes, albeit hopefully less random options.

But I think the really important part to note here is the last one. Technically the rules for MyWaitrose vouchers say they can only be used on alternative products if the one that’s listed is sold out.

In practice, this works even if it is in stock, but Waitrose are saying it’s OK to do this if the vouchers aren’t suitable too.

You’ll have no problem doing this on self-service machines, and I’d hope a person operating a till won’t be overzealous about it either. Online it could be a different matter (let me know your experiences of this in the comments section below).

As of Wednesday morning I’m yet to see the latest offers to see how it compares. I’ll update it here when (or if) that happens.

*Update 4pm 20 July – still no sign of any vouchers. Customer services told my mum they’ll be sent out Thursday or Friday, but I’m waiting for official confirmation from Waitrose.

* Update 7pm 20 July – the usual style vouchers appeared based on my previous purchases

11 thoughts on “What’s going on with MyWaitrose vouchers?

  1. The Waitrose voucher controversy continues .
    We also had that one week when we received vouchers for the strangest products which we had never bought and had no interest in buying . This was clearly a mistake .
    We are now receiving personalised vouchers as before but the value of the vouchers has been cut dramatically . Just as an example a voucher for Schweppes tonic water which was £2.50 is now only £1 . All the vouchers have been similarly reduced in value making the so called loyalty scheme far less attractive . And as we all know prices are increasing rapidly so you would expect Waitrose to be trying harder to keep their customers .

  2. Mywaitrose card exclusive 20% off at the fresh counter/bakery used to work even for the reduced items, (e.g. 79p lemon tart becomes 63p at payment.) but today nothing happened. Is it also their minor change? I don’t mind that but I’d like to be informed in advance.

    1. It also used to work on the deli items at the cheese counter, but they rescinded that without mentioning it.

      1. Exactly so. At the till I asked about it but the staff said “because it is already reduced item”, as if she was like this was totally normal and “you are stingy greedy ba*****!” (…quite true tho…) ?

  3. stuart Campbell July 22, 2022 at 9:07 am

    What really annoys me is when challenged the customer services team made it sound like it was just a minor tweak and I must just not have understood that the algorithm knows best. If you make a mistake hold your hands up and put it right. Anything else just makes things worse.

  4. Last week I got very obscure offers, this week my offers only arrived Thursday and even though they are on items I normally purchase they are mainly 50p-£1 off, whereas previously I was receiving excellent offers such as £5 off Cushelle toilet rolls or £2.5 off Cafepod capsules, which meant I could save quite a good amount off my weekly shopping bill whereas now it will be a couple of pounds.
    A definite change for the poorer in policy when we need all the help we can get. These offers are more in line with my local Co-op.

    1. My experience is exactly the same; they appear to have used this “trial” as a means by which to reduce the value of everyones vouchers. Think of it like this — it’s suggested that there are between 600-800 thousand MyWaitrose customers, a 50p reduction over 4 weeks costs you £2, over the course of a year, applied to each customer, it saves Waitrose roughly £14 million. Approximate calculations, but the motive is clear.

      I just wish they’d be open about their intent. It reminds me of when they moved away from their 20% off selected products model, citing “customer confusion” as a reason for doing so. I increasingly find myself shopping elsewhere, with the way the economy is going, a recession likely to be declared next year, I can see Waitrose being bought out by a Walmart type figure by the end of the decade…pesticide riddled produce for all.

  5. why don’t my voucher emails appear every Wednesday at the same time. Today I am still waiting at 7.00 pm .

  6. Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith July 20, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    Ah, I thought it was just me! I was really looking forward to my personalised vouchers for the products I buy regularly but got some random selection of irrelevant items instead. This week, I got no vouchers at all as of Wednesday mid-day. Trip to Waitrose cancelled. I’ll wait until they start sending my regular vouchers again.

    1. Me too! I’ll wait…

      1. Hopefully we will get them before Saturday.

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