So attractive are the deals and savings for members of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons, that even after members have died, people are seeking to cash in on them.
President Ed Bushell said this morning at a Press conference that BARP was instituting a new membership card with photo identification and other safety features to track the usage of the cards.
“We found that there were some people who were borrowing these cards and using them, and [were] not members. People had died and the youngsters were holding the cards and using them . . . ,” he told reporters.
He clarified: “We realized people were using them that were not the bona fide cardholders. It could be that they found them or whatever, but they were not the owners. It was not rampant, but sufficient enough for us to take notice.”
Stating that the previous cards had served their purpose and served the association well, Bushell explained the organization would be changing them for two reasons.
“One, to increase the security of the card; and secondly, to be able to collect data from the use of the card, which is useful both to BARP and also to the concessionaires, the merchants, who facilitate BARP members.”
The latter effort would help with marketing, Bushell added.
The Press conference was called to give an update on recent developments within the organization, which is an advocate for retirees. The president noted that the cards would also provide data with which it could negotiate even more deals for members.
The card will be launched on December 1, and all 37,000 members will be issued with them when they renew their membership.
New members will get the new card that carries their photo image, a bar code which can be scanned to access the associated discounts, as well as the security tape for the holder’s signature, among other features.
Bushell said while BARP did not now have the data these new cards would gather, he revealed that one business had indicated that much more than $1/2 million each year had come from this older community.
Stating that he believed everyone who had one of the membership cards used them, the president said: “One company that already tracks this membership’s volume of sales has come to us and said that BARP members spend $868,000 a year with [it].
“If we could know from every single merchant, besides doing a survey, this would give us hard empirical data that we could look to and say yes, or tell the particular merchant, BARP spends $50,000 a year with you, if you increase your percentage to them, I think they will spend more,” he said.
Adding that BARP was also working with similar bodies in other islands to create a regional retired persons grouping, Bushell said one of the things being examined was having these members share in each others’ island discounts or benefit schemes.
He noted though this was one of the objectives for down the road, as they were still working to formalize the regional body.
Executive manager Elsa Webster said the cards were being sponsored by Wine World and Consolidated Finance to help offset the cost to BARP of replacing 37,000 plus cards.