Woolies (Australia) Makes A Step In The Right Direction

Last year Woolworths gutted their loyalty program in which people could choose between Qantas points and money off your shopping.  Then we heard that due to popular demand they would bring back Qantas points.  It took 8 months but we finally have the details of the new program.  Firstly, for a nice recap, please watch this video from Nine News.

You should also take the time to read the FAQ from their website.  Here’s a few key points:

You asked to be rewarded for every dollar you spend, so we made some changes. Now you get all the existing benefits of Woolworths Rewards, plus from 31 August 2016 you’re guaranteed to earn on every dollar* – $1 = 1 point. You can earn bonus points with exclusive offers in store and via email. Plus, for the first time, you’ll earn points at Caltex Woolworths fuel outlets (excluding Tasmania, Star Mart and Star Shop) on top of what you get at Woolworths and BWS.
*No points will be earned on purchases of smoking products, gift cards, mobile recharge, Woolworths Mobile, travel cards and tickets, delivery charges, internet cafes, Carpet Care, lottery products, Woolworths Flowers and purchases using Caltex Starcard.

This is a plus and basically gets rid of the detested “Orange ticket items” and brings the basic earn to an equal level with Coles Flybuys program, especially if all you want is to save money on your grocery shopping.  Flybuys does still have the edge though with flexibility.  You can redeem your Flybuys at any time of your choosing whereas the Woolworth’s program will either automatically redeem them each time you acquire 2000 points or $10 off your shopping.  If you want to save them, there is a “Save for Christmas” option where you can bank your points throughout the year and they will automatically be redeemed on 15 December.

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SHOULD YOU CASH OUT FOR MONEY FOR GROCERIES OR SAVE FOR QANTAS POINTS?

Enjoy automatic savings

Unless you change your redemption settings to one of the below, you’ll automatically get $10 off a future shop each time your balance hits 2000 points. To redeem your saving, simply spend $10 or more on eligible purchases^ in store or online at a Woolworths supermarket or BWS store and scan your card. You cannot redeem your $10 saving in fuel outlets.

 

And from 31 August 2016:

 

Bank your savings for Christmas

You have the option to hold all your $10 savings for your Christmas shop. Your savings will be automatically triggered (i.e. become available for your use) on 15 December 2016.

 

Or convert your savings to Qantas Points

On 15 December 2016, each $10 Woolworths Dollar saving you’ve earned will be converted into 870 Qantas Points and transferred to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.* For example, if you accumulate $50 Woolworths Dollars, you’ll get 4,350 Qantas Points.

 

You can update your redemption preference from 31 August 2016. To select your redemption preference, simply log in to your account at woolworthsrewards.com.au, select ‘My Account’ followed by ‘Redemption Settings’ and follow the prompts. Alternatively, click here to contact us.

I am not overly thrilled with the 15th December being the only option.  We don’t make a big fuss over Christmas and I would rather have the extra shopping the week after we get back from a big trip and then I could apply the week’s grocery budget to our trip.

In the past, I did accumulate quite a few Qantas points from shopping at Woolies but I am becoming less interested in collecting Qantas points due to the excessive fuel surcharges.  So what I would like is to be able to save the points and redeem them in bulk for a week’s free shopping at a time of my choosing.  What I haven’t figured out yet is if you can change your mind after you opt in for “Save for Christmas” and then have your stash of points redeemed when you opt out.

WHICH IS BETTER, WOOLWORTHS REWARDS OR COLES FLYBUYS?

For shopping discounts, both of them value 2000 points at $10.  If this is your goal, then choose your grocery store for price and convenience, not the loyalty program.  Flybuys actually has an edge because you can choose to redeem them whenever you want and Woolies only has the automatic redemption or “Save for Christmas”.

If you want airline miles you need to know if Qantas (and OneWorld alliance) or Etihad (which can be redeemed on Virgin Australia and other partners) will get you where you want to go for less miles and less fuel surcharge.  There’s no easy way to distinguish them as each destination is different.  For example if you are headed to South America, Qantas & partner Latam have better options, for Africa, I would go with Etihad via Abu Dhabi.  Set your travel goal first and choose your loyalty programs accordingly!

PROMOTIONS ARE THE REAL KEY

If you are depending on just the $1 spent = 1 point earned, you will take forever to accumulate enough points for anything worthwhile.  The real value is in working the promos.  These sometimes get emailed to you, Coles sends out quarterly vouchers and both sometimes print bonus points offers on your shopping docket.  These usually involve you having to make a target such as “Spend $80 and get 1000 bonus points”.  If you can be flexible and rotate between both stores to take advantage of these bonuses you will get a LOT more points!  Ironically, these “loyalty programs” actually reward you better for being disloyal.  If you spend a couple months shopping at Coles, Woolies will try to lure you back with attractive offers and vice versa.  Also, when you are meeting a target, it’s best to just barely meet the target otherwise they raise the bar next time.  If you spend $80.45 on the example to get your 1000 point bonus, stop the register and pay for any remaining groceries separately without scanning the card, otherwise you will find your next target increased to $100.  You can get your spouse or partner to use their card too and rotate between you to keep your targets down.

I know this is a lot to take in and it probably sounds complicated and not worth it but if you play the game well, you do get some pretty good rewards!

 

Holiday Gifts That Help Conservation

Looking for that perfect gift for someone who loves birds and wants to help conserve them in the wild?  Here’s a few options that have beautiful bird themed gifts online!

Orange-bellied Parrot T-Shirts

New book: Parrots of the Wild

World Parrot Trust Calendar

Birdlife Australia Calendar

Virtual Adoption of a Kakapo

If you happen to be out in the field birding, keep an eye out for handicrafts made by local people.  Sometimes you find them in lodges, sometimes in markets or souvenir shops.  Make sure they are made in the local area to maximize the profit to the local community.  These Kuna women are making molas and selling them at the craft market in Panama.

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In Peru, you can buy arpilleras at the craft shop in the Puerto Maldonado airport.  But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Peru, the World Parrot Trust also has some for sale!

 

Puerto Maldonado Shop2 Arpillera

 

Woolworths Guts Everyday Rewards – No More Qantas Points

For the non-frequent flyer who can’t accrue miles and points from employer paid business travel, partner programs that allow you to accrue miles and points from everyday spending are very important.  For the last few years I have earned a lot of Qantas points simply from doing my normal shopping and using products that attract bonus miles.  On 31 Dec, this all comes to an end.  Woolworths has announced that they will be starting a new program that is “supposedly” what customers want.  (No one asked me what I want.)

The complete FAQ is here but I will highlight the 2 main reasons why I think the new program sucks.

YOU DON’T EARN WOOLWORTHS DOLLARS ON EVERYTHING IN THE STORE, ONLY ON ORANGE TICKET ITEMS

Previously you earned one Qantas point for every dollar over $30.  No one knows how many orange ticket items will be available, if these items will be ones you actually want or if they will be priced well.  They may email you targeted offers that you have to keep track of and you may randomly win $10 when you scan your card.

Woolworthsrewards1YOU CAN’T CHOOSE TO LET THE WOOLWORTHS DOLLARS ACCUMULATE, THEY WILL BE APPLIED AUTOMATICALLY WHEN YOU REACH A $10 THRESHOLD.

Before Flybuys hooked up with Etihad (very recently and I will be posting more later), at least Coles lets you accumulate Flybuys as long as you want, the points don’t expire and you can spend them at a time you want.  I’ve cashed them in for free Photobooks that are worth at least $80 each and sometimes I wait until I have about a week’s worth of free groceries and use them at a time when my budget is tight.  Apparently Woolies thinks we are not capable of determining the best time and method of spending our “Woolworths Dollars” and will just deduct $10 off the next shop once you reach a $10 threshold.

When your Woolworths Dollars balance reaches $10, you’ll automatically get $10 off your next eligible shop at participating Woolworths Supermarkets and BWS stores (excluding Tasmania). All you need to do is scan your Rewards card at the checkout and we’ll take care of the rest.

Remember: Woolworths Dollars can only be redeemed in multiples of $10. For example, if your Woolworths Dollars balance is $20 and you spend $28, you’ll get $20 off your shopping.

There’s no limit to the amount of Woolworths Dollars you can redeem in one transaction. However, given that when you reach $10 Woolworths Dollars you automatically redeem on your next eligible shop, it’s unlikely you’ll have more than $10 to redeem at any one time. And remember you can only redeem in multiples of $10. Any remaining Woolworths Dollars will remain in your balance.
Whoopie do!  Like $10 every few weeks is going to make enough difference to influence my shopping?  I’m already good at getting discounted products by shopping when they mark down the meat and bakery goods and I get points on those items just like they were full priced.
I like the passive forced saving of Qantas points or even Flybuys so I can save a good amount and spend them on something worthwhile like a trip to Fiji or a week’s worth of free groceries.  Over the past few years I have earned enough Qantas points for 1 round-trip Brisbane-Fiji ticket simply by shopping strategically.
I am not yet a member of Etihad but with the new Flybuys partnership I will be taking a special look at it over the next week.  After 31 Dec, I’ll be shopping more at Coles except for the few products I like that only Woolies stocks.  I expect a lot of miles and points collectors will be doing the same.

Tarangire To Ngorongoro – Getting There Was Half The Fun

I could have called this the “scenic route” to Ngorongoro but in Africa just about everything is scenic!  We got a somewhat late start but who wouldn’t when there are all these delightful little Yellow-collared Lovebirds and Red-billed Firefinches to watch!  This is where I am different from normal birders or “twitchers”.  I can happily sit and watch a couple of interesting species for hours rather than running around ticking boxes off a list.

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The driver finally convinced me to go so we headed off back down the road towards Arusha past the Masai villages and farms.

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It never ceases to amaze me how these ladies do this!

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Then we turned off down the road to Ngorongoro & Serengeti which proved equally as scenic.

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Along the way, there were lots of these little art stands.

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I resisted the temptation to shop until we reached the village of Mto Wa Mbu.

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This larger art market had much more variety so I just had to stop and shop.  Prices were extremely negotiable and I found some nice bird paintings in the traditional Tingatinga style to bring home for us and for gifts.

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We drove past the Lake Manyara NP, if we had had more time we could have stopped in but it was close to noon so not the best timing.

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After passing more handicraft stalls, we came to the town of Karatu which is a dry dusty town that didn’t really interest us, though we did top up the fuel tank.

IMG_6805 IMG_6807 IMG_6808A few km further and we reached the gates of Ngorongoro Conservation Area………..

Accra Craft Market, Ghana

After such an amazing trip to Ghana, of course I wanted to buy some souvenirs!  We visited the Arts & Craft Market in Accra for some serious shopping!  The vendors here are very pushy and you do have to bargain pretty hard.  We came away with 2 paintings – Bee-eaters & Kingfishers, a kaftan for me and a t-shirt and baseball cap for my husband.

Take a look and see what YOU would buy here!

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My poor husband struggles to keep up and balance the backpacks and shopping!

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He decided against a hair cut.

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Even after exiting the market, they still chase after you!

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Furniture can be purchased on several street corners in Accra.

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Shopping In Antananarivo – Souvenirs Of Madagascar

The one disappointing thing was that there weren’t many handicrafts being sold at any of the places we visited and I always like to bring souvenirs home.  Preferably ones that are made by locals and contribute to the local economy so they benefit from eco-tourism.

Since I live in Australia where the quarantine laws are very strict about bringing in anything that is of plant (such as wood carvings) or animal origin, I try to avoid such things unless the item is a rare find and of course not made out of any endangered species.  I really like paintings, embroideries, batiks and jewelry depicting birds.  And no trip to Madagascar is complete without a few t-shirts to proclaim to all your friends back home you have been here!

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There are a few souvenir shops in downtown Tana, some of which accept credit cards.

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There is also a market out near the airport with about 50 small shops selling all kinds of handicrafts.  Cash only but bargaining is expected!

IMG_5804 IMG_5805 IMG_5810 IMG_5806 IMG_5807 IMG_5808 IMG_5809I ended up buying a table cloth with embroidered birds, a few fridge magnets and a couple embroidered wallets.  Word quickly got out that I liked birds espececially and a few stall holders came running up to me clutching any merchandise with a bird on it!

Back at the airport, after we paid the taxi, checked in and had no further use for Ariary, I spent the last few notes on an embroidered doily at one of the kiosks in the lobby.

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Shopping In Papeete

It was mostly “window shopping” as souvenirs in Tahiti are not cheap!  We had a few XPF to spend before going home so we ended up with a couple pareos.  The jewelry is amazing but costs a fortune!

Leaving the ferry terminal

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Cool artwork on a cafeIMG_1687

Pirates greet you at this cafeIMG_1688

These stunning necklaces were out of reach for meIMG_1689 IMG_1690 IMG_1691 IMG_1692

But these pareos were around $10 each!IMG_1693 IMG_1694

Papeete On A Budget (And Where To Splurge)

You don’t often see those two words in the same sentence!  But believe it or not, it is possible to save money in Papeete by doing what the locals do!

IMG_1695 IMG_16961.  Locals use the buses.  Unfortunately the colourful “Le Trucks” have disappeared and been replaced by normal buses.  Bus fares from the airport to the town centre or Intercontinental will be around 200 XPF and a bit more to the Radisson.  Weekdays, buses operate roughly every 15 to 30 minutes from around 5am until about 5.30pm.  If you are staying at the Intercontinental, the Pape’ete-Faa’a-Outumaoro line supposedly operates 24 hours but in reality gets very quiet after 10pm.  We did manage to get this bus to the airport at 5am but since we only had backpacks we would have walked otherwise.  Sunday services are less frequent.

2.  Locals eat at the Grande Marche or in the evening at the roulottes.  Hotel food is really expensive and you’ve probably seen other blogs talking about $50 breakfasts and $100 dinners.  You can save a bundle by visiting the food stalls at the market and buying sandwiches or plates of food to bring back to your room.  We also brought packets of Crystal Light to mix with water rather than paying $5 for a bottle of soft drink.  Here’s an idea of what to look for at the marche.

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If you are feeling festive or planning on attending an island night (luau) you can buy leis just outside.  IMG_0534The cheapest pareus (sarongs) are also found on the sidewalk outside the market but it’s cash only!

There are a few jewelry stalls near the tourist office.

IMG_05113.  Free maps and booklets at the Tourist Office.

IMG_0513 IMG_05124.  Souvenirs are cheaper in the grande marche or just outside and some shops take credit cards.

IMG_0535 IMG_0517 IMG_0516LAST BUT NOT LEAST – THE SPLURGE!

I really wish I could have afforded these beautiful bird paintings on wood but they started at around $300!  Yikes!

IMG_0528 IMG_0527 IMG_0526 IMG_0525 IMG_0524There are some nicer wood carvings and other objets d’art near the Place Vaima.  You can also get a SIM card for your cell phone.

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We got to see the Miss Tahiti crown on display as the pageant was happening the week after we left.  Nearby, you can find some Tahitian haute couture!

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Marquesan Traditional Dance & Handicrafts – Ua Huka

After leaving the museum, we headed back past the airport to the festival grounds.  We were lucky the Aranui was in port, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see the traditional Ua Huka dancers!  On the map below, I have indicated where this is with the blue arrow.  We drove past a small shop, saw how the Arboretum (which we had had all to ourselves!) was now swamped with tourists, then made a quick stop at the airport.

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Here is the entrance to the showgrounds, a huge Tiki and lots of tourists!  The dancers were young and enthusiastic and of course at the end a few tourists (including me and Ina) got up to join the fun!IMG_0051 IMG_0052 IMG_0054 IMG_0055 IMG_0056 IMG_0057 IMG_0059 IMG_0060 IMG_0061 IMG_0063 IMG_0064 IMG_0066 IMG_0067Leaving the showgrounds, we enjoyed a scenic drive, once again running into the traffic jam.  It is shocking how the ship passengers completely overwhelm this island!  I was glad that tomorrow we would have a nice quiet day to go birding!

IMG_0068 IMG_0069 IMG_0075 IMG_0082There were two markets available.  The one in Hane was only arranged for the ship passengers.  The wood carvings are beautiful but not cheap!

IMG_0070 IMG_0071 IMG_0072 IMG_0073The shop in Hokatu is in a permanent shop but opens sporadically – definitely when the Aranui is in port or on request for people staying on the island.  Since I didn’t want to have to deal with AQIS (Australian quarantine), I didn’t buy any wood products, just a DVD of Marquesan dance.

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Australians Must Use PIN, Not Signature From 1 August

Most Aussies probably already know that they must use PINs instead of signing from 1 August.  Our credit cards have been PIN enabled for several years so this shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you are coming here as a visitor, don’t worry.  The system will recognize a foreign card that doesn’t have PIN technology and you will be asked to sign.  More information.

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