For some retailers, Philip Morris International’s Drive tobacco loyalty scheme has been dawdling in the slow lane. I’ve had a handful of complaints over the last few months.
Nikil Patel first contacted me from Witley, Godalming, in Surrey in mid-March, followed by his wife Nilam a few weeks later. They had recently sold their business and still had £137 on one Drive card and £19 on a second one and neither could be accessed. I had to chase the problem up for them a couple of times, but by mid-May it was resolved satisfactorily.
A PMI spokesman said: “With regard to Nikil Patel, we got in-touch to initiate a resolution. His card has been unblocked and is free to use and he has been given a number to ring should he have any further issues with it.”
In Terry Beard’s case it was quicker, but only because he had done most of the chasing himself. Terry runs 10 campsite stores for the John Fowler Holiday group, a job he seems to relish. All 10 stores were signed up to the Drive Connect scheme in March 2017 for one year. He had sent some 17 emails to PMI dating back to last October. When he found that his contact was no longer responding to calls, voice messages or emails, he copied me in on his final email to the company and I rang him up.
In his case it was serious four-figure dosh that was owed to his boss and Terry was being a bit of a terrier - acting under his own initiative I should add, not from instructions from the boss.
He says: “I’ve got an agreement and I tell them I am not going to go away.”
I asked PMI for a response and their spokesman said that Terry had now received an apology for the delay. He added: “Our investigation found that the system was showing him as having been paid in full, hence the error.”
Ah, systems. Terry has decided not to sign up for the scheme this time around.