Webloyalty

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Webloyalty is an online marketing company, part of Affinion Group,[1] that runs reward programmes 'Shopper Discounts & Rewards' and 'Complete Savings'.[2]

Its founding partner and CEO was Richard Fernandes, who stepped down from his role in May 2013.[3]

The company describes its business as "helping [...] online retail and travel businesses build stronger relationships with their customers by providing them with consistent, reliable discounts so that they can get the best deals on everything from fashion to electronics or homeware".[2]

History[edit]

Webloyalty launched its first programme 'Shopper Discounts & Rewards' in the United States in 2004. It later launched the same 'Shopper Discounts & Rewards' programme in the UK in 2007. It introduced its 'Remises & Réductions' programme in France in 2008 and 'Shoppen und Sparen' in Germany in 2010.

In 2011, Webloyalty was acquired by American customer engagement company Affinion Group.[1] Webloyalty launched 'Privilegios en Compras' in Spain and 'Acquisti e Risparmi' in Italy, with Ryanair as its primary launch client that same year.[4]

Webloyalty announced in February 2013 that it will expand its programmes into the Republic of Ireland.[2]

Operations[edit]

Webloyalty (and other loyalty programme companies) have contracts with popular retail websites to offer various 'online membership programmes'. When a consumer has made a purchase on one of contracted retail websites, the consumer will be offered a cashback or money-off voucher for the next purchase via a pop-up ad or image banner.

By clicking on the link, the consumer is offered a sign-up page where personal details are required to complete the registration for the service. The consumer is asked to fill in their personal details, payment method and agree with the terms and conditions.

Up until 2010, Webloyalty and other loyalty companies used a different method for registration. Via the so-called 'data-pass', these companies were able to instantly make use use of the consumer's credit card data after its initial purchase on the retailers’ website and bill the consumer a monthly membership fee. As the consumer was not prompted to enter their payment data again to register, many were unaware that clicking 'yes' enrolled them automatically in a monthly paid programme, often only discovering months later that they subscribed.[5]

This practice generated numerous complaints resulting in coverage on international newspapers.[6][7][8] and money advice websites. These practices were described as "misleading, but [...] not illegal'[9] where some consumers "had no recollection of filling in financial and personal details".[8]

This resulted in some retailers in the UK, including Debenhams and B&Q, to sever and suspend their links with Webloyalty after a wave of complaints.[9]

Webloyalty and other loyalty programme companies no longer makes use of the data-pass method. They now require all consumers to manually re-enter their credit card details in order to register.[5]

US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearing[edit]

The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced on 28 May 2009 a Senate Commerce Committee investigation, led by chairman Jay Rockefeller into "certain e-commerce marketing practices that generate thousands of mysterious monthly charges to consumer credit cards".[10]

On 17 November 2009, Webloyalty in the US, Affinion Group and Vertrue were called before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to explain its business practices during a full committee hearing on "Aggressive Sales Tactics on the Internet and their Impact on American Consumers".

The hearings investigated the companies' business practices, whereby consumers were enrolled in a "membership rewards" or "loyalty" club, often without their knowledge, after having purchased something through a separate website.[11]

The committee investigation found that Webloyalty and other "loyalty club" companies "used aggressive sales tactics to enroll online consumers in services without their consent".[12]

The chairman of the committee introduced the "Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act"[13] on 5 January 2010 to "end the deceptive online sales tactics" as a conclusion to the investigation.

The Congress' act was considered and passed the by Senate on 30 November 2010, and considered and passed the House of Representatives on 15 December 2010. The act was eventually approved on 29 December 2010.[14]

Webloyalty responded on 19 May 2010 to the introduction of the act by stating it had "refined its practices to help address senators' concerns and that it will fully comply with the bill once it is enacted" and that it changed its business practices by requiring consumers to enter their full credit card information to enroll. Additionally, the company claimed to have improved their after-sales (or post-enrollment) process by sending frequent communications to its members and introduced “no hassle” cancellations. [15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Affinion Group, a Global Leader in Customer Engagement / Loyalty Solutions Completes Acquisition of Webloyalty". Loyalty360.org. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  2. ^ a b c "Ryanair deal helps Webloyalty expand into the Irish market". Travolution.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Change in Directors or Principal Officers". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  4. ^ Webloyalty announces European expansion with launch of operations in Spain and Italy Webloyalty.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-05
  5. ^ a b Brignall, Miles (2010-02-13). "Shopper Discounts & Rewards could cost you dear". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  6. ^ Gammell, Kara (2010-05-15). "Web discounts: be on your guard". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  7. ^ Sommerlad, Nick (2008-07-03). "We save money for shopper discounts victims". The Mirror. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  8. ^ a b Leach, Andrew (2009-07-18). "Online discounts club that could make you £10 a month poorer outrages shoppers - and a Rockefeller". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  9. ^ a b Brown, Rob (2009-02-22). "High-street shops sever links with discount firm Webloyalty". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  10. ^ "Chairman Rockefeller Launches Investigation Into Deceptive Online "Mystery Charges"". Democratic Press Office. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  11. ^ "How Subscription Clubs Bring in Members". PCWorld. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  12. ^ "Senate Commerce press release". U.S. Senate. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  13. ^ "Rockefeller Introduces Landmark Bill To Ban Misleading Internet Sales Practices And Protect West Virginians". U.S. Senate. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  14. ^ "Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act". U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  15. ^ "Webloyalty Makes Statement About its Business Practices in Response to U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Report". Chicago Press Release. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 

External links[edit]