I thought I had got nowhere with this complaint, but I was wrong. Back in April I was contacted by Arvind Patel who used to run Crystal News in Leicester’s town centre. He says he took part in BAT’s Retail Relationship Programme which rewarded him with points that he elected to have put on an Argos card. They were worth £180.
He sold the business in 2013 and went on holiday for a couple of months. When he returned he tried to spend the points but was told, by Argos, that they had been removed from the card.
He says he has tried ever since to reach someone at BAT who can explain why they were removed. He adds: “I thought they were just like money in the bank.”
He was told at various times that the rep would be notified, but no one ever got back to him.
I had already written up this story, saying I know the feeling. BAT won’t get back to me either. The PR lady at the consultancy company that handles BAT’s publicity had repeatedly apologised for this non-reaction.
Then, at the eleventh hour she got a result and Arvind will get his money back and I have to rewrite the ending!
By rights, BAT could have refused because the rewards actually go to the business, not the person.
Richard Wood, head of business development UK at BAT, explains: “The cards have a ‘use by’ date on them and the new retailer was signed to our new scheme, so timing-wise the holiday coincided with our sign-up period - meaning the new retailer was signed up and the previous owner’s payments were out of date.
“We urge all our retailers to check terms and conditions on their cards and so on, and as with all discount cards (eg Argos vouchers), they have an expiry date. To counter this, BAT moved to pre-paid credit cards last year to avoid this issue.
“Furthermore, the cards are registered to the stores - not the owners - as we are unable to incentivise store staff to the value we pay on the contracts for legal reasons, so again - owed monies would be transferred to the new owner.
“Despite this, however, I can confirm that BAT is going to honour payment to the retailer on this occasion to make amends for this misunderstanding.”
Can’t say fairer than that.