The “big three” US carriers have gotten to the point where their loyalty programs are now all more or less the same. My issue isn’t that they’ve devalued as such, but rather that they’ve devalued while making the program significantly more complicated. I sometimes can’t keep up with these programs anymore, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for the average person:
- You earn redeemable miles based on the base fare cost of the ticket, which can sometimes be tough to decipher
- You earn elite qualifying miles based on the distance flown
- In order to earn elite status you have to spend a certain amount during the calendar year
- If you’re flying a partner airline, however, you may earn redeemable miles and elite qualifying dollars as a percentage of the distance flown; it all depends which airline issued the ticket
Anyway, it seems that Chipotle has taken inspiration from airlines, as they’ve introduced a rather complicated program with a rather strange name. The program is called Chiptopia Summer Rewards, and it’s a test program which will be available for a three month period, from July through September.
This program just seems so poorly designed on so many levels, and I say that as someone who loves Chipotle.
First of all, what’s with the name? Couldn’t they just call it “Chipotle Rewards.” I love Chipotle, but I don’t ever order chips there. Chipotle can be fairly healthy if you don’t order the chips, burrito, etc., so calling it Chiptopia seems like it wouldn’t resonate with many, especially since they’re trying to position themselves as place where you can get a healthy lunch. Not to mention it’s sort of a tough name to remember.
But the rewards structure is the part that gets me. Here’s a three minute video explaining how it works:
That should be enough of a hint — if you need a three minute video to explain how a limited time loyalty program for a fast food restaurant works, you may have made it a bit too complicated. And that doesn’t even address the fact that the video is cheesier than one of those sex ed videos from the 80s I had to watch in high school.
In case the video didn’t help, here’s a complicated chart to really clear it up for you:
Chiptopia Rewards has three status levels — Mild, Medium, and Hot — and your status resets every month:
- In order to earn Mild status, you need to make at least four purchases of at least $6 during the month, which gets you a free entree
- In order to earn Medium status, you need to make at least eight purchases of at least $6 during the month, which earns you a free entree
- In order to earn Hot status, you need to make at least 11 purchases of at least $6 during the month, which earns you a free entree
Your purchase total resets to zero every month. On the plus side, when you redeem for a free entree, that counts towards the next status level. Unfortunately, however, only one purchase per day can count towards status, so buying multiple entrees the same day wouldn’t count towards status.
On top of the monthly rewards, you can receive further rewards if you qualified for status for all three months, as follows:
- Earn Mild status for all three months, receive a complimentary entree
- Earn Medium status for all three months, receive $20 in Chipotle merchandise
- Earn Hot status for all three months, receive catering for 20
I love Chipotle, but they’ve managed to create a loyalty program that even I’m not interested in (which is saying a lot). I mean, I guess I’ll register and if I happen to go four times in a month I’ll get a free entree, but it certainly wouldn’t cause me to dine with them any more often.
Couldn’t they have just gone with a revenue based program like Starbucks, or otherwise a “buy X, get X free” program, rather than having the requirement reset every month, making the structure complicated, and offering rewards at the end of the three months that many people won’t have a use for (I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t dying to wear a Chipotle hat, and also has no use for catering for 20).
What do you make of Chipotle’s Chiptopia Summer Rewards program?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)