Sunday, May 10, 2009

Does Your Smiles Card Make You Smile?

Bad things always happen one follow another. Just like wave, 一波未平, 一波又起. Means, first wave is yet to subside, the second wave is already arching its way to you. So can you still smile like this chick on this card?

By the way, this is the Smiles Card from ExxonMobil Malaysia, or widely known as Esso and Mobil by most Malaysians. It's the loyalty reward card for Esso and Mobil customers. You get reward points for every single ringgit you spend at the station, RM 1 = 1 point. But I think recently the company changed its reward system that you don't earn points for groceries anymore at the dry stock mart, yet to confirm though. Anyway, that is not the story of today's post. Let's read on how to earn points from fueling your vehicle.

Very simple to earn point. 1st, park your car at any available kiosk, of course not kiosk at Shell or Petronas, but Esso and Mobil kiosks. 2nd, insert your credit card and wait for the bank approval. 3rd, insert your Smiles Card and remove it when ask by the on screen instruction. Last, lift the nozzle and refill as much as you want or till the tank is full.

Once filled, you return the nozzle to the kiosk and some of you wait for the receipt (and some not)...

Ok, there are 2 receipts for 2 different transactions. Can you spot the differences (exclude the difference of numbers in RM and liter)? Never mind if you are lazy to find, look below...

Got it? The left one is with a summary of the accumulated loyalty points under your account/card and the right one is without except "Redeem your points for fuel and mart".

If your receipts all the while are like the left one, you can say bye bye now, you don't have to read on. If your receipts are similar to the right one, congrats and you may want to read on.

No, the difference is not because of different petrol stations you visit. No, the difference is not because of different systems at Esso or Mobil station. No, the difference is not because of cash payment or card payment. No, the difference is not because of different credit card you use. So what causes the difference?

It's because your Smiles Card no longer "smile" and the card is void in the loyalty program system. In other way, you lose all your accumulated points!! So, your card is VOID if your receipt is similar to the right side one, which is without the points summary.

Don't ask me how could this happen, I also don't know but for my case, I was told my card was inactive for more than a year and therefore the system automatically "purged" all the points and void my card. Well, for sure I can't trace if that was the real root cause as I stopped pumping Esso or Mobil fuel for quite some time ago (but refilled once in blue moon if I couldn't find the brand station I frequent) and started to use the brand again for some reason.

Don't expect any notification from the kiosk's display telling you "card void or whatever" message, the display still shows "Please remove card" and "Credit authorization in progress" just as if your card was still valid. Don't expect any snail mail notification too even though you filled up all your personal particulars in the application form shown below, the system is more than happy to forfeit customer's points quietly so that no one is eligible to redeem anything from the mart or fuel, that saves the company's $$...

Yes, the form dated year 2005 and I still keep the forms, not because of my smart anticipation of such thing happened to me but I reuse these papers as sketch paper for recycle purpose, and coincidentally I still have 6 of them in the tray (some had been recycled). These forms now serve to recall how many points I had with my Not-Smiles-Anymore Card.Imagine that I earned 2000 points (if my memory serve me well) for each application that I introduced and I have at least 6 of them, let alone other points I accumulated through my own transactions.

I was told it's stated in the terms and conditions that card inactive for a year is automatically void. But I recalled the form was rather a folded form, where one side was attached with the card and the other was the form shown above, I did not recall to see any terms and conditions attached with the form. And if you know me, I read through every single word of any T&C before I commit to anything, just like here, here, here and here. Well, of course I don't keep the full original form, so I can't be sure if the T&C clearly stated the clause.

So what is the point to print "Redeem your points for fuel and mart" (the right side receipt) if the card is already void? I guess it serves as a "friendly warning" to the customers so that you go to redeem your points and realize you have zero point under your card. "In ExxonMobil, they are drivers too", whom I guess focus on road safety but not customer service.

So, if you are Smiles Card holder, be sure to check your receipt on your next refill. If you don't have the habit to collect and keep the receipt, I recommend you do it once in a while to make sure your card is still smiling. I don't think you can do anything to reclaim the points if your card is void, perhaps you would be just like me to reapply a new one with zero point. Share with me if you are same luck with me on this Smiles Card matter.