Waitrose free coffee deal grinds to a halt
We have long known there is no such thing as a free lunch, but now it seems there is no such thing as a free coffee either.
Waitrose is changing its offer for loyalty card members so they will have to buy something before being able to claim a "free tea or coffee" in store.
The supermarket said it was just a "refinement" of the existing policy.
But it has provoked mock outrage on social media from some of the chain's loyal shoppers.
As one Twitter user put it: "A collective gasp from middle England as @waitrose announces you now have to *buy something* before indulging in free teas and coffees."
Another joked: "We will speak of this day for years to come. Social historians will trace the #Islington #Coffee #Riots to this act of betrayal!"
The offer of a free hot beverage for myWaitrose members has not been without controversy.
In 2014, Labour raised concerns about the promotion, claiming it was hurting independent traders nearby.
The prime minister at the time, David Cameron, also gave his views on the issue, saying he could not see why people were complaining about it.
A spokeswoman for the supermarket said the new policy was "just a refinement" for its customers.
"From 3 April, we'll simply be asking myWaitrose members to make a purchase before collecting their cup at the checkout," the company said in an email to myWaitrose members.
Waitrose started to try out the new approach in 15 stores last year, and now it has decided to roll out the policy nationwide.
But for those who might have been sneaking in the odd free cup of coffee, there is some good news.
The supermarket said there would be no minimum spend to claim the hot drink.
"A free tea or coffee has always been one of the ways we thank our customers for shopping with us - and that has not changed - we are underlining our commitment to this much-loved offer," the supermarket's spokeswoman said.
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