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PC Optimum members say accounts hacked, points stolen

According to a report, eight customers have each reported more than 100,000 points have gone missing

Loblaw is dealing with more bad PR about PC Optimum.

Since combining its popular PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum customer rewards programs on Feb. 1, Loblaw has faced a series of reports about problems with the merger and unhappy customers.

The latest came Thursday with a CBC story about eight customers whose PC Optimum accounts had apparently been hacked with more than 100,000 points stolen from their accounts since the merger.

One customer in Saskatoon noticed one million points—with a redemption value of about $1,000—were missing and had been redeemed at a Pharmaprix location in Laval, Que. Another customer in Victoria B.C. said 120,000 of her points—worth about $120—were redeemed at a Maxi & Cie in Montreal. The same customer’s mother, also a Victoria resident, discovered 390,000 of her points cashed in a Calgary Loblaw.

According to another story in the Huffington Post, when a customer in Guelph, Ont. used a self-checkout and selected the option to have her receipt emailed to her, the address for a stranger appeared. When she called Loblaw, she was told two other people were linked to her account and had been using her points and that the person who had accessed her account had accessed 84 others.

Loblaw experienced a similar issue last year with its PC Plus program when members accounts were hacked and points were stolen. But the new reports of missing, and perhaps hacked/stolen points is just the latest in a number of complaints from PC Optimum customers disgruntled in the wake of the program merger.

Frustration about glitches in switching over to the new program in the early days were later replaced with reports of security concerns and missing points, with customers also saying that Loblaw has been slow to respond when the missing points were reported.

Loblaw declined to address specific questions from Canadian Grocer about what, if any changes in security protocols following the merger could explain the rash of missing points, but provided this statement from spokesperson Catherine Thomas:

"Heightened security is part of the new normal for any online businesses. We have strong security measures in place across our digital platforms and take any sign of unusual activity very seriously,” she said. “Recently, we halted some individual accounts and asked those members to reset their passwords. Strong, unique passwords help protect personal information and points.”

“We understand the concern and frustration some members have around longer-than-normal wait times to resolve their concerns. Some have faced unacceptable delays. Our team is committed to helping each and every person to safeguard their account and reinstate their points."

During an analyst call about its fourth quarter results in late February, CEO Galen Weston said more than six million customers had signed on to the merged program, but acknowledged the process had been more difficult than the company had hoped for (PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum had 19 million members in total).

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