Online loyalty-card site fails as users read each other's details

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The Independent Online

The company behind the new Nectar loyalty card has suspended its online registration scheme because of overload and concerns that customers could see the details of other shoppers.

The company behind the new Nectar loyalty card has suspended its online registration scheme because of overload and concerns that customers could see the details of other shoppers.

Yesterday the company put a message on the site saying that it would accept only postal applications. The problems had begun almost as soon as the site went live on Monday.

Loyalty Management, the company behind the scheme, admitted it was mystified. "We are not saying there were a million or so people trying to register at any one time, it was more like tens of thousands per hour," said a spokeswoman. The company decided to suspend the service on Thursday night, it claimed, although internet measurement systems suggested it went offline late on Wednesday. In the meantime customers can register by telephone or by post.

The Nectar scheme brings together four companies – Sainsbury's, Barclaycard, Debenhams and BP. The new link-up means customers can collect loyalty points at more than 1,800 outlets. The company has distributed more than six million registration packs, and had hoped to have 10 million of its cards in circulation by now. So far it claims to have registered 1.25 million people – though it would not say how many managed to do so through the website, and how many by post.

"Part of the problems were that we have the same sort of software as banks use, because we are storing personal details, and although we added more capacity early in the week there was congestion in the site," said a spokeswoman for Loyalty Management. "We decided that because we couldn't deal with it that we should just take it down because customers were getting frustrated."

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