This year was the first year the Co-op implemented an annual audit to monitor and maintain the Access Discount Benefit (10% off purchases). This benefit is a category of patrons established by the Board of Directors. To quote an earlier article from September 2012, “The provision to provide the Access Discount was born out of three of our Global Ends policies that are:
- A.3: WSGC is a cornerstone of a vibrant economically and environmentally sound community.
- A3.3: Persons of all ages and economic groups view the Co-op as an important resource for their well-being.
- B.8.2: Facilitate the participation of low-income persons by providing alternative payment plans for purchasing a Fair Share and by offering purchase discounts based on financial need.
The Board is to be commended for creating and maintaining this progressive, thoughtful and altruistic benefit. When enacting the provision, the Board reasoning for providing this benefit included:
- To sustain our cooperative and mission, for generations to come.
- To continue to provide access for those who are living on low incomes.”
There are very few grocery cooperatives of our size that offer this sort of benefit to qualifying Owners. As our organization continues to grow, it was important to develop a clear auditing system to measure and monitor the use of the Access benefit. In addition, the updated renewal process has: 1. Streamlined the Access enrollment process to be quick and simple; 2. Established positive customer rapport and anonymity in presenting confidential information to Customer Service Representatives; and 3. Established a clear auditing method to report to the Board that will keep this benefit sustainable.
All Owners enrolled in Access by December 31st, 2012 were notified by mail about the change to the renewal process. On February 15th, Owner Records sent a renewal notification to these Owners’ current addresses in the Ownership database. In addition, we had articles and advertisements in the newsletter to remind our Access Owners of our new renewal process.
For the entire month of March we renewed Access Owners. Current enrollment information was presented at the Customer Service desk and an Access Renewal form was signed by the Owner. This form includes an accountability statement; any misuse of the discount could result in termination of the Access Discount.
Overall the renewal process went smoothly. Owners liked that the renewal could be done at Customer Service, that the criteria was clearly presented, and the speed the renewal took. Customer Service staff were very helpful and able to answer questions. Any special circumstances were forwarded to Owner Records for follow up within two-to-three business days.
Access Owners who failed to renew within the month of March had their discount removed until current enrollment can be submitted. Prior Access Owners and any Owner who qualifies for the benefit can sign up at the Customer Service desk. Access enrollment information can be found on our website with this link: www.willystreet.coop/reader-editions/2012/09/access-discount-sustainability.
Moving forward, all Access Owners enrolled by December 31st, 2013 will have to renew in March of 2014. Please make sure your address and email information is current on your record. Renewal notices will be mailed out by mid February. Enclosed will be a notification letter, Access Renewal form with a list of qualifying programs, and an option to cancel/close postcard. In addition, a second electronic communication will be sent mid-March for Access Owners who have not renewed, but have shopped within the month.
Access Discount Usage Reminder:
The Access Discount cannot be used for purchases for a housing cooperative, non-profit organization, or business. Questionable or unacceptable usage is reported to me and Access Owners will be contacted about these transactions.
If you have an Individual Share with an Access Discount, only you can use that Access Discount. If you have another person that frequently shops for you within your household, please consider upgrading to an Access Household Ownership. The additional cost is only $7 and the paperwork processing takes about three minutes.
Finally, the Co-op understands that there are instances where an Owner’s benefits may temporarily be extended to another person. These instances include, but are not limited to, times when an Owner is unable to physically come into the store due to an accident or illness, or when an owner has a guest from out-of-town who is coming in to shop for the owner. The Co-op offers Temporary Shopper Cards (one time or extended use), which extend the Owner benefits to a proxy for the Ownership. They will be issued at the Primary Owner’s request and can be picked up at the Customer Service Desk at either location.
If you have any additional questions, comments or feedback about the Access Discount please contact the Owner Records Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Office hours are Monday through Friday 9:00am-5:00pm. 251-0884 ext. 734.