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‘Pret Perks’ launches today – how does it work?

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A couple of weeks ago we had the exclusive news about the launch of ‘Pret Perks’, the new Pret A Manger loyalty scheme.

The programme finally goes live today. However, it will be in beta for a few weeks and can only be accessed by people with a Pret coffee subscription and an iPhone.

You will earn one ‘star’ for every purchase and stars can be redeemed for ‘perks’. You will require 10 stars to receive a free product from a rotating list of rewards. You do not get your choice of any item in the store.

Once you have hit 10 ‘stars’, you will have 30 days to claim your free product. Your free gift will expire at this point.

You will NOT earn ‘stars’ when claiming a free coffee from your subscription unless something else is bought at the same time. All Pret coffee subscribers will receive a nominal one star per month as part of their subscription. You need to scan a QR card in the Pret app to receive your stars.

One attempt at gaming the system is already blocked in the rules. Any purchases made in quick succession will be amalgamated together, so you cannot buy a coffee and a sandwich in two transactions and earn two ‘stars’.

Full details should be on this web page from this morning.

Comments (399)

  • Mikeact says:

    No cc or bcc to any apparent legal beagles….seems to me they’re the ones that will be the winners in all of this mess….not Joe Public.

    • Stu N says:

      The email chain is clearly between two senior people in the organisations – Curve person is redacted but on NSI end it is the Risk and Compliance Director. They are consulting with others in their businesses, Curve explicitly mention of consulting with data protection officers and NSI mention a working group looking at the matter.

      It looks like Curve are just providing an extract of payments to NSI; NSI will have this anyway but probably not in an easy-to-use form so Curve are giving it to them. This will be personal data under GDPR but this clearly passes the “legitimate interest” test so it is inconcievable the ICO will pursue this.

      • Patrick C says:

        The legitimate interest part is highly doubtful. Also sharing of customer data for “fraud” allegations is not exactly legal.
        The correct procedure NS&I and Curve should have followed is to contact the regulator (if you think something went wrong).
        Working together to figure out if someone violated the T&C’s of a specific private contract by sharing customer data is just not allowed.
        The discussion of criminal sanctions (for which none of the participants have any authority) should actually lead to a criminal procedure against both Curve & NSI.
        Presumably this is the fake legal cover they use to share data, without any indication whatsoever of “criminal activity”.
        This is not about manufactured spend, but really about the gross violations of any privacy, data protection and due process rules and borderline anti-competitive behavior and should be punished accordingly.
        It is funny though how credit card providers whine for hours when the customer rips them off, while they are doing the exact same thing to their customers (with APR’s that are just hilarious) every single day (well for those that don’t pay their bills on time at least).

        • Anna says:

          Where is the reference to criminal sanctions?

        • Track says:

          Voice of reason in the wilderness. Same thoughts.

          1. Working together to figure out if someone violated the T&C’s of a specific private contract by sharing customer data is just not allowed.

          2. The discussion of criminal sanctions (for which none of the participants have any authority) should actually lead to a criminal procedure against both Curve & NSI.

          Exactly, by which authority NS&I and Curve are doing that and which law exactly gives them investigative powers? Are these esteemed public bodies mentioned in Criminal Justice Act 1967 or in Criminal Procedure Rules?

        • cinereus says:

          Wow, someone who actually knows what they are talking about in HfP comments. Thanks, Patrick.

  • RTS says:

    Cmon, who on here made it to the top 50. 😂

    • Mikeact says:

      For the top 50…maybe!
      Interesting there is only one email highlighted in blue…. ‘Prevention or Detection of Crime’..the very first one from Paul in response to the email from Curve.

      • Anna says:

        That’s a reference to information sharing protocols, it gives agencies grounds for sharing data. It’s actually quite loose and was originally intended to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse (like children and elderly people, not financial institutions!)
        It looks to me that the original informant is someone with a poor understanding of criminal law who thought they would end up being feted for exposing some major organised fraud. Of course as the emails make clear, no crimes have been committed and all that has been caused is some embarrassment and inconvenience.
        It may be a coincidence that accusations of fraud and money laundering were being outrageously directed at readers here some weeks ago, and now they aren’t …!

        • Rui N. says:

          At one point it was even said that it was illegal to earn points on depositing money on Earnie (thus making all deposits with a Tesco debit card also illegal).
          Oh, and the Treasury was in on this as well!

        • Mikeact says:

          Be that as it may…perhaps it may well end up in a Court of Law and the Top 50 will help to boost the coffers of the lawyers….the ultimate winners.

          • Anna says:

            I think that’s very unlikely – what material loss has Creation suffered which it didn’t actually authorise?

  • Geoggy says:

    Hi NSI and Curve.

    I hope you are both well.

    Could I ask why my IHG credit card has been closed, given that not once did I make a deposit in any savings account with it, ever?

    Now and again I would draw cash out from an ATM but always within the limits set by Curve.

    As a non frequent traveler that card was my only way of gaining status and points in IHG, and it does somewhat annoy me that the actions of others have ruined that with their manufactured spend activity.

    Yours,

    Geoggy.

    • RTS says:

      Collateral damage.

      • Geoggy says:

        Ran my wife’s card in the exact same way. No letter, not a head for points subscriber being the literal only difference.

    • Rui N. says:

      These MS’ers are so awful! Me?! I just withdrew cash from an ATM with a credit card using a method to circumvent cash advance fees! No MS here, who do you think I am?!

      • Geoggy says:

        There’s a big difference in drawing a couple of hundred quid out once every 2 or 3 months (and not once during the last 18 months due to lockdown and shielding) to depositing massive sums into a savings account. Can you even see the ground your horse is so high?

        • Rui N. says:

          It doesn’t seem to be me that is on a high horse thinking their MS activities are not MS… Scale is irrelevant for the definition. I’ll tell you more: if someone deposited not-massive-sums on Ernie and did not withdraw it ever it would be MS just the same. £1 in MS is as MS as £1 million – you just get less points.

          • Rui N. says:

            And yes, you can even say that some forms of MS are more egregious than others (like withdrawing money from an ATM outside the bank and then going inside to deposit the money). But it doesn’t make the MS you do less MS (but if it helps you sleep better at night thinking that, so be it).

          • MD says:

            It appears that you don’t know what the definition of manufactured spend is.

          • Rui N. says:

            MS, which full name is “manufactured credit card spending” is being able to use a credit card to earn points where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Recycling cash all over again is the pipe dream, but that doesn’t mean that MS for “legitimate” purchases (e.g. paying HMRC) is not MS. But again, if it helps you sleep better, so be it.

          • Geoggy says:

            Patronising beyond belief. But if it makes you feel better about your actions, so be it.

          • Rui N. says:

            I’m not the one burying my head in the sand and pretending that only other people do MS nor was I the one that was “annoyed” by the actions of others.

          • Peter says:

            Please, just wind your neck in. There is a difference. a massive difference, just don’t use it to justify your own actions

          • Rui N. says:

            @Peter, if that was for me (hard to know, and I don’t think so since I’m clearly not the one trying to justify my actions here. I’m more than happy to take advantage of any MS opportunities that show up, like I’ve been doing for the past 15 years, including several where it was possible to withdraw cash from an ATM without fees), I never said that there wasn’t a difference (namely because cash recycling can be much more profitable). Just said it was MS nonetheless. Massive difference.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            @Peter there’s no difference

            Suspect you’re trying to justify your own actions here.

    • Track says:

      Curve cash limits are not any indication what Creation likes or does not like.

      By definition Creation would not like ANY cash advance, which they have not profited from.

  • Will says:

    If it was a HfP comment that send NS&I into a spin they probably need to have a look at their fraud and NYC checks ditto card providers.

    It’s all a bit ridiculous, the card providers can see the spend, see the transaction codes etc. The fact they weren’t all over these transactions and accounts from the start is worrying from a compliance point of view.

    Credit to virgin here for capping points at credit limit per month, sensible way to limit such behaviour.

    • Rob says:

      Virgin is coming for you next.

      • Greg says:

        Then that really is the end for Curve in my opinion.

      • Vasco says:

        Should I stop using it with Curve? I haven’t used my Virgin card for ANY MS, but I’ve used Curve especially when spending abroad.

        • Rui N. says:

          If you already used it, it’s too late.

        • Anna says:

          +1, only used it with a couple of businesses which genuinely don’t accept cc’s.
          Surely Curve is destroying itself if it’s reporting its own business model for investigation?!

      • Cranzle says:

        Why don’t they just block Curve cards? Simpler, easier, quicker.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Why not boot you out whilst they are at it? Someone who has played them by linking their card to an intermediary like curve is not a desirable customer. Go back in time, curve flex, cash withdrawals, NS&I, fronted etc.

          None of this is in Virgins interests. Why spend time trawling what you have been doing line by line?

          • will says:

            To penalise a customer who linked to curve is harsh, it’s within any card providers power to block curve transactions as we’ve seen with creation (and the Amex fiasco).

            Penalising customers who broke the terms, different story and to be honest anyone who did MS should be thankful it worked for so long. If I were a card issuer I’d be seeking the claw back the points on those spends.

      • will says:

        Personally I never touched any of the premium bonds or NS&I, have a commercial Curve that I use to pay non GBP bills and was sticking a lot of business spend through the Creation card monthly.
        Got card withdrawn but you have to take it on the chin.
        Likewise with Virgin, no PB or NS&I but I link it to Curve for holiday spending. If it gets pulled it gets pulled.

        It’s absolutely insane that this was going on, and the card issuers clearly have an issue with it and it took them so long to cotton on to. Surely the regulator should be all over that, not because anyone broke the law in this case but if they are so slow to catch spend patterns like this then they’re going to miss actual illegal activity.

      • Magic Mike says:

        Um, what does Rob know about Virgin (Clydesdale)?

        Virgin have had the ability since August to add charges to such transactions but they haven’t, probably because they can’t find a COBOL programmer to implement it. Surely that is the first step rather than “doing a Creation”?

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Kind of very glad I never got involved with all this now. Still fascinating to watch

      • Melonfarmer says:

        Virgin have changed their terms (5th August, I think) so the fees outweigh the points benefit. 5% on stockbrokers, for example.

  • Char Char says:

    So from this it seems Curve the magical one card for everything can not be used for everything and it was in fact their own work, that led to the said closure of the NSI route.

    Seems to me Curve got everyone’s creation cards cancelled due to their scaremongering and meetings.

    Why have a meeting with creation unless they were Mr X, when all that came from the meeting was to shut down all accounts used with Curve.

    I think we need a FOI with Curve and Creation next

    • Stu N says:

      Curve and Creation aren’t public bodies so FOI is irrelevant.

    • Paul Pogba says:

      I’m sending a GDPR SAR request to both. Creation are closing my account and I’m not paying Curve another annual fee so I have nothing to lose.

    • will says:

      Curve didn’t get everyone’s card cancelled, those doing MS through curve got the cards cancelled.

      It’s got a bit echo chamber on this issue, hands up who actually thought that printing free points by linking your creation card to curve card and just transacting money in a circle solely for the purpose of generating free points was within by the spirit and letter of creations terms?

      The buck stops with creation, as they should have picked up these transactions, run extensive NYC checks and applied cash advance charges on cash advances but ultimately the behaviour that triggered this was the quest for free points and anyone who did it should be willing to accept that.

      Fair play if you did it and got a good stash of points, just lets not pretend that everyone didn’t realise it was a murky area.

      • Rui N. says:

        Not true at all. We’ve had reports of people getting cancelled that didn’t even Curve cards, and there was one case where the card was cancelled after a single transaction (single transaction total, not with Curve).
        Also, I don’t think everyone is surprised that the Creation gravy train ended. It’s the way that Creation is going about it that is the problem.

      • Char Char says:

        Curve had meetings with Creation
        Creation blocked Curve.
        Creation closed 99% all accounts who ever used Curve.

        If Curve didn’t cause it directly they certainly did it indirectly with their card, I don’t hear Paypal getting cards blocked.

        • will says:

          Curve are allowed to have meetings with Creation, Creation are allowed to block curve, Creation are allowed to end any card agreements that they want to as long as they follow due process, none of that (as long as they follow due process) breaches the agreement with the customer.

          Cash recyling/cash advancing is a breach of the terms with Creation.

          The activity that’s prompted this entire event is very clearly cash recycling using a Curve card and as such those who engaged in that activity are the trigger.

          I’m not having a go at anyone who did it, but come on you can’t be serious if your reaction is that it was fine and its all curves fault.

          That’s like blaming the cake shop for being fat.

          • JDB says:

            From what you say, the issue may have been business spend, expressly prohibited in the terms. That is the cause of a great many of the account closures. Curve is a common feature, but far from the only basis for closures.

          • will says:

            Fair in that case, must admit I had never seen that written in the terms until you had highlighted it.

            The fact remains in terms of a compliance and NYC issue, Creation should have made themselves aware of what was happening and asked questions about it, both in terms of business spend, curve transactions and cash recycling much earlier than they did and it’s worrying that seemingly so much money has cycled through without proper audits on customer accounts.

    • Track says:

      Correct.

      Curve should have obtained a seasoned legal advice from experienced data protection lawyer, even better an opinion of a respectable QC. Cost them what 20-30k?

      Then, forward this legal opinion to Creation, NS&I with cc: to FCA, and act accordingly. End of story.

      If Creation or NS&I ban Curve BIN then it would be their decision. Curve might choose/not to pursue this with Mastercard. Resolve the problems between institutions, don’t hunt and execute the customers.

  • J says:

    I went back through my Creation transactions for this year to check what exactly I’d put through Curve – nothing untoward, just a handful of bills and regular payments, all totally legitimate spend and fairly small amounts, no NS&I. But I too got The Letter.

    However, I have made various Revolut top-ups direct from Creation (no Curve) – not particularly large amounts, not unduly often, also for legitimate reasons, and not against T&Cs as far as I can tell (and they’ve been happy to charge me interest when I’ve mis-timed my repayments). But maybe that was the reason I’m getting my card closed, rather than Curve use.

    I wonder whether Revolut and Creation have been having similar correspondence to Curve and NS&I – would that be FOI-able?

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      You can only FOI NS&I communications (e.g. NS&I comms with Curve, or with Creation). You cannot FOI comms, say, between Revolut & Creation because neither are public bodies.

      FOI is only for public bodies such as NS&I.

      • J says:

        Ah, what a shame 😉

        • Blair says:

          But you can submit a DSAR under data protection law to Curve and Creation to identify who shared your data with who, and when, and indeed why. The ‘why’ may be something they try to scope out as a redaction for commercial purposes, relates to ongoing investigation, etc. But you can appeal this if you think unreasonable, and complain onwards to ICO if your complaint has substance

    • Blenz101 says:

      You may have been happy to go line by line but why should they? You are perhaps collateral damage.

      Their view would be you should have used the card directly rather than masking it via an e-money provider.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        They should’ve implemented Apple Pay then.

        Anyway people have used credit cards with PayPal and the like for years.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Good luck with MS via PayPal. Or go back in time. Or flex. Or dodging forex fees. Or making cash withdrawals.

  • James says:

    I’m losing my IHG credit card but didn’t do any of these manufactured spending things.

    Creation surely could have been far more targeted with the accounts they are closing.

    I’m losing a card I love having because other people broke rules, not me.

    • Greg says:

      Open another one in your spouse / partner name with you as secondary cardholder. It worked for me.

    • Anna says:

      Have you asked Creation to reconsider? Ultimately you do agree that they can close your account at will – cards close all the time for various reasons as well.

      • James says:

        Yeah sadly they can pretty much do what they want.
        I have asked them to reconsider 3 times via different online contact forms and email addresses.

        Had no response to any of them despite first doing it several weeks back.

        I think they just don’t care.

      • James says:

        I do wonder if anyone has managed to convince Creation to reverse their decision to close their card ?

      • Char Char says:

        Not heard of Creation reconsidering and who would want to deal with them after this shambles, perhaps they will charge another annual fee and then take away the benefits just for asking this!

  • Paul says:

    That FOI response is fantastic. Hello Paul and others.

    Paul – you’re hilariously incompetent if you need data from Curve to detect & stop this. But that doesn’t surprise given, as Cranzle put it nicely, a government jobsworth. C’mon Paul, step it up, earn that pay check that we’re all funding!

    Mr anonymous Curve – well done for expediting the decline of your business! I’m sure, as you shut these accounts down, your aggregated spend rates fall off a cliff. Investors won’t be too pleased.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Curve has never really been a viable business model, this is likely just the final nail in the coffin

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