UCD Students’ Union have officially suspended the loyalty card scheme following their announcement in November that the service would be withdrawn in order to cut its losses, which now stand at approximately thirty thousand euro. Students who were availing of the scheme may now no longer redeem the points earned on their cards.
The card was introduced by last year’s sabbatical team and was made available to students during the 2010/2011 term. Current Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, defended his decision to remove it, stating, “Obviously when all the finances came to light I knew we had to make some cutbacks, and this was one area I thought it was pretty reasonable to cut back on because the maintenance costs were quite high. The second reason was the U-Card being rolled out across the campus, and while the loyalty card was an excellent initiative in itself when it started, the roll out of the campus U-Card undermined it, I felt.”
De Brún also mentioned the introduction of laser card facilities, stating that it would “roll into the overall business plans of the shops.” However, the introduction of laser card facilities had also been promised by the Students’ Union for the 2010/2011 academic year. Former Students’ Union President, Paul Lynam, stated at the time that “we mean to introduce a loyalty and a credit card simultaneously,” although this credit card scheme has yet to be introduced and the loyalty card has since been suspended.
The establishment of the loyalty card scheme and the introduction of laser card facilities in SU outlets were part of the 2010/2011 Union’s priority list, which was formulated in July 2010. This list aspired to “make financial supports available to students who are most at risk of financial problems and avoid any cutbacks to vital student supports.”
De Brún explained that there had been other costs in addition to the general running costs of the loyalty card system. “The running costs [of the loyalty card] were in the region of twenty to thirty thousand euro annually, so that’s the saving we’re going to make, but there were additional set-up costs in that. There was some capital investment required in the tills in the shop but I wouldn’t really put that cost on the loyalty cards because we did need new tills anyway. It has improved our till system.”
When asked if the U-Card would be incorporated into the Students’ Union shops, de Brún responded that “it may or it may not be, we haven’t made a decision on that yet. I’m due to meet the project leaders for the U-Card in the coming week and we’re going to discuss it further then, but we need to very carefully weigh up the pros and cons.”
De Brún also apologised for the large sign that is still on display in the Students’ Union shop in the Arts building reminding students to show their loyalty card. “That is misleading, I actually wasn’t aware that there was one there.”