Woolworths slashes Everyday Extra perks


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Aussies outraged over changes to Woolies rewards program, BHP owes short-changed workers $430 million, and AI moves into personal investing. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Woolies charges more for rewards but dials down perks

Australians love to be rewarded for loyalty, and a report by Point of Loyalty shows Coles Flybuys and Woolies Everyday Rewards rank highest among consumers for simplicity and value.

woolworths slashes everyday extra rewards perks

But that may be about to change for Woolworths Everyday Extra subscribers.

Everyday Extra is a subscription-based program offering additional perks beyond Everyday Rewards, which is free.

From July 1, 2023, the annual subscription fee for Everyday Extra will jump from $59 to $70.

If you're on a monthly plan, the fee will remain unchanged at $7 each month.

Extra reward points, which are a key drawcard of Everyday Extra, will be dialled down from 3x Everyday Rewards points to 2x the normal points.

The monthly 10% discount of Everyday Extra will stay though it won't be available with online purchases at either Woolworths or Big W.

The big Australian, BHP, is up for a mighty big annual leave bill

Ever worked for BHP? You could be due some extra wages.

Resource giant BHP says it has "identified issues" that show a number of current and former employees have had annual leave wrongly deducted for public holidays since 2010.

We're not talking about a handful of staff.

Around 28,500 current and former employees are affected.

A further 400 employees - past and present, may be entitled to additional allowances.

The company estimates that sorting the pay error will cost up to US$280 million ($430 million).

Geraldine Slattery, BHP President Australia, says, "We are sorry to all current and former employees impacted by these errors. This is not good enough and falls short of the standards we expect at BHP. We are working to rectify and remediate these issues, with interest, as quickly as possible."

BHP will contact affected current and former employees as soon as possible.

Could AI decide your portfolio?

US-based financial services giant JPMorgan Chase is developing software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to select investments for clients.

The company has applied to trademark a product it calls IndexGPT.

The application is light on details, but JP Morgan claims IndexGPT will be used "for analysing and selecting securities tailored to customer needs".

It could see AI reshape the future of financial advice at a time when the cost of face-to-face advice is skyrocketing.The average advice fee is now $4000, with some advisers charging up to $13,000.

Research shows most Australians who want advice can't afford this, with three in five saying they wouldn't pay more than $500 to speak with an adviser.

Aussies countdown to tax refund

With just days until the end of the financial year, one in eight Australians are sweating on a tax refund.

Finder research estimates an average tax refund of around $2,900, and 2.4 million Australians say that money is "critical" to their financial health.

In the past, a tax refund was often set aside for retail therapy.

Not this year.

One in seven of us will be using a tax refund to pay for household bills, while 5% will be putting it towards their mortgage.

Finder's Rebecca Pike says the cost of living crisis has triggered an over-reliance on tax returns.

"There's a cash flow crisis and many are counting on their tax return to pay for everyday expenses and get them out of a tight spot.

"If you're waiting for your tax return to bail you out, you are likely living beyond your means," she adds.

Spike in scams prompts warning about selling online

Scammers are turning to online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to rip people off.

NAB says customer reports of goods and services scams have increased 66% in the past three months.

A third of these reports involved criminals trying to exploit PayID, which uses a mobile phone number, email address or ABN to send and receive money.

NAB Executive, Group Investigations and Fraud, Chris Sheehan, says scammers ramped up their efforts targeting online marketplaces in late 2022, and the problem continues to grow.

"We are getting reports of people selling an old TV or fridge online and being inundated with identical messages from scammers wanting to purchase the item with PayID," Sheehan says.

"The buyer often claims the transaction couldn't be completed because the seller doesn't have a PayID 'business account'. The scammer might say they've paid to upgrade the seller's account, and now needs to be reimbursed."

PayID is free to use, and Sheehan cautions, "The biggest red flag of any PayID-related scam is often if someone asks you for money to upgrade an account or to access PayID."

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.