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David Chaplin 's Opinion

A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: How Fly Buys can reduce the deficit

26 comments

She couldn't interest me in the specials (two luxury length chocolate bars for $4) but the Shell (now Z) girl pressed me on the benefits of Fly Buys.

"I got a Playstation, a stereo, an iPod and a TV through Fly Buys," the Shell (now Z) girl told me. "It's awesome."

She obviously hadn't thought about the terrible impact her Fly Buys bargains were having on our trade deficit and I didn't say anything about it.

I just paid for the petrol and left without earning four discount points that might have enabled me (had I used them within the following three-year period) to acquire 'A course in weight loss' by Marianne Williamson or even a Francis Francis X1 Pod Espresso Machine, amongst other items, for free.

I would prefer retailers just give their best price rather than rope me into another tedious loyalty scheme intended to influence my consumer choices. But I'm in the minority.

According to Loyalty NZ, the company that runs Fly Buys, the scheme "has 100 per cent brand recognition in New Zealand and at 71 per cent, it has the highest active household penetration in the world for any loyalty programme".

However, as I didn't tell the Z (formerly Shell) girl earlier, the rewards on offer do appear to be dominated by imported items.

But now that the New Zealand government has a stake in Fly Buys via the purchase of the Shell NZ assets by the NZ Superannuation Fund in partnership with Infratil, perhaps that will change.

The rousing, patriotic new TV ad for Z (formerly Shell) that trumpets the involvement of NZ Super and Infratil sets the tone.

With all those jobs and profits coming home, how about we keep the Fly Buys rewards local too?

According to the latest Loyalty accounts, Fly Buys spent about $60 million on Playstations and other items, while reporting an overall profit of just over $2 million in the year to March 31, 2010.

OK, it's small change, but why ship it offshore?

Can I interest you in a Fly Buys KiwiSaver contribution?

David Chaplin

A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries. Today, he contributes to various publications in Australia as well as his bi-weekly blog for the NZ Herald under the 'Inside Money' banner.

Read more by David Chaplin

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