Here’s the broad strokes:
- Chope-Dollars (C$) redemptions for restaurant vouchers will be discontinued
- $10 and $20 ChopeDeals discount codes will be added to the existing $30 option, and minimum spending requirements imposed
- Redemptions of ChopeDeals discount codes will be limited to one of each denomination per month
- C$ earned in 2018 will have their expiry extended (original expiry: 31 Dec 2019) to a new date that will be revealed in November
Make no mistake about it: these changes are bad. Chope has tightened the noose on its rewards program, and only given three days’ notice in the process.
It doesn’t help that they’ve done a Citi Prestige by plastering a big “we heard you!” banner across the eDM, which starts with “you asked, so you shall receive”.
I can’t think of a single Chope user who asked for this, so it just comes off as kind of tone deaf and disingenuous. I’m no starry eyed idealist; I know that loyalty programs need to revise their economics from time to time to stay viable. That said, customers aren’t stupid, and it really doesn’t help when negative changes are communicated this way.
What’s going on?
From 1 November 2019, ChopePerks will no longer offer restaurant vouchers. Instead, all dining redemptions will be in the form of ChopeDeals discount codes.
|How do Chope dining redemptions currently work?|
Chope currently offers two dining redemption options:
Restaurant dining vouchers are pretty straightforward: you redeem C$ for a cash voucher at a particular restaurant. ChopeDeals discount codes are a two step process. First, you redeem C$ for a ChopeDeals discount code. Then, you use it to pay for a dining deal in the ChopeDeals catalogue. A maximum of one code can be used per transaction.
For example, if you redeemed a $30 ChopeDeals code and bought a “10% off $50 dining certificate”, you’d effectively pay $15 ($50-10%-$30) for $50 of dining value.
Currently, ChopeDeals discount codes only come in a $30 denomination, which requires no minimum spend. From 1 November 2019, two other denominations will be added, and minimum spending restrictions imposed:
Why is this bad?
Chope is effectively adding a cash co-pay to redemptions
Even though the redemption ratio for ChopeDeals discount codes is the same as restaurant vouchers, the addition of a minimum spend clearly constitutes a devaluation.
|400C$||$10 ChopeDeals discount||$20|
|700C$||$20 ChopeDeals discount||$30|
|1,000C$||$30 ChopeDeals discount||$45|
What this effectively means is Chope is adding a cash co-pay to all redemptions. Gone are the days where you could waltz into a restaurant, redeem a dining voucher and have a free (or highly discounted) meal. From here on out, it’s pay to play, and if you want to redeem a dining reward from 1 November, your minimum cash co-pay will be $10.
Keep in mind, $10 is the minimum out of pocket expenditure. In reality, it’s likely to be more than that, because of the fixed minimum spend requirement. Unless you’re able to find a ChopeDeals voucher that hits this minimum on the dot, you’ll have to top up the difference.
You save less during peak periods
Another reason why this is bad is because diners effectively lose peak period discounts.
The existing restaurant vouchers do not have restrictions on timing. Sure, you can’t use them during certain blackout dates, but on dates where they’re valid, it doesn’t matter if you come at the peak of lunchtime or just before closing.
Contrast that to ChopeDeals vouchers- although all day versions exist, the best deals are for off-peak dining. For example, you can get 25% off a $20 Tim Ho Wan voucher, provided you’re able to dine between the lull hours of 2.30-5pm on weekdays.
So the upshot of the changes are that users lose peak period discounts. You’ll have to dine during off-peak to stretch the value of your C$.
Chope is limiting the number of discount codes you can redeem each month
From 1 November 2019, Chope will also limit each user to a maximum of one ChopeDeals discount code denomination per month, i.e 1X $10, 1X $20 and/or 1X $30. This means you can spend a maximum of 2,100 C$ per month on dining redemptions.
I suppose you could argue that since bonus C$ promo codes have all but dried up, it would be difficult for most people to earn beyond this cap in a month anyway. At 100-175 C$ per reservation, you’d need more than 12-21 reservations per month to exhaust the limit.
However, this is still a negative change, insofar as it penalizes long-time Chope users who have been squirreling away their C$. If you fall into this category, you’d better burn as much as you can right now.
What do I do now?
If you have C$ in your account, start looking for your favourite restaurants and redeeming vouchers as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if you don’t intend to dine straight away; so long as your voucher is issued before 1 November 2019, it will still be valid for 90 days.
If you’re holding on to an existing $30 ChopeDeals discount code that was issued before 1 November 2019, that code won’t be subject to a minimum spend.
With these changes, ChopePerks ceases to be a rewards program in a traditional sense. It’s now more of a discount scheme, where the best you can hope to do is save some money on a future meal, instead of getting a free one. It’s kind of like an airline removing outright redemptions and replacing them with discounts off revenue tickets instead.
Historically speaking, Chope was one heck of a generous rewards program. I still remember the days where I regularly earned 600-700 C$ per reservation, thanks to my LiveUp membership and the regular promo codes.
LiveUp has since halved the C$ per reservation to 100C$, and the promo codes have disappeared, so I guess it’s really a case of easy come, easy go. It doesn’t help that the changes came so abruptly though, and the way in which they were communicated will leave a bitter taste in many Chope users’ mouths.