Friday, 12 March 2010

Second CAMRA Facepalm in 24 hrs

Today I became aware, courtesy of CAMRA apparatchik @tonyjerome on Twitter, that CAMRA has created a pub discount scheme.

This isn't a scheme whereby a pub can gain a discount on something and thereby reduce risk of closure; no, it's a scheme whereby CAMRA members can get discounts on beer.

Now, let's get this straight: the pub trade is up against the wall, 39 or 52 or something are closing every week, CAMRA creates a scheme that eats into already-slim profit margins.

It's astonishingly dumb. It will extra competition between the pubs that CAMRA members already favour. The ones giving the discount will attract more CAMRA customers; the real ale pubs not offering discounts will lose trade. 

To create this extra price pressure is a disservice and insult to a trade that is already struggling.

Coming from an organisation that appoints itself as a guardian of pubs this scheme is a slap in the face for the very business sector it claims to support.

Another consequence will be that perfectly good pubs will find themselves edged out of the Good Beer Guide in favour of those giving discounts.

Who gains? A hardcore of tight-as-a-gnat's-chuff CAMRA loudmouths. 

Any CAMRA member with any self-respect should make a point of supporting pubs by not asking for, or declining a discount under this scheme. 

You couldn't make it up!


Cooking Lager said...

You could say the Wethy's vouchers discourage members from visiting "well run community locals" by equal measure.

They are a consumer organisation, supporting pubs because pubs are the source of their chosen poison.

You'd expect a consumer organisation to want to keep a check on prices and offer perks to members.

It is hypocrisy, though, that’ll I’ll grant you. Bearded weirdoes.

Curmudgeon said...

I wonder if the neo-Pros will start whingeing that it promotes binge drinking ;-)

Tandleman said...

You've been reading the Daily Mail too much Jeff and gone native. Their methodology has clearly rubbed off on you and made you prone to conspiracy theory.

Give it up. Wean yourself off it here: then work your way slowly to the Guardian.

Jeff Pickthall said...

Ah Tandleman! You spotted my ironic use of Richard Littlejohn's catchphrase!

ChrisM said...

Can't help but agree with you here Jeff - at our branch meeting last month it was decided that we will not be supporting the scheme as it is just an embarrassment. Loyalty schemes, fine, but not specific discounts for CAMRA members.

StringersBeer said...

This looks like the kind of "member benefits" stuff that low-grade management-types love because they can understand it (just barely). I suspect that most members aren't in it for the benefits - it's more of a belonging thing? Making a statement about values? And a social thing, of course.

Curmudgeon said...

Actually I get the impression that many people see free or reduced price admission to beer festivals as a major benefit of CAMRA membership, although maybe not the sole reason for joining.

StringersBeer said...

Yep, that's a benefit, I'm sure people see it as a benefit and are happy to take advantage of it. Like I say, the "member benefits package" is easy to for a certain type to understand - you've got it, obviously - but I'm not persuaded that more "benefits" mean more or happier members or necessarily serve the aims of the organisation. I first joined at a beer festival, but I was going in anyway - it was an opportunity to join and cost me very little (including the entry discount - nothing maybe?). I renewed my membership for entirely different reasons. And I've never used any JDW vouchers.

The whole thing seems pretty dumb to me - but what do I know? I got my last GBG with the amazon discount rather than the CAMRA option FWIW.

Unknown said...

Having sat in GBG selection meetings I know very well that price is a key criteria used. Pubs that I think are better, but a little dear, get rejected and Wetherspoons get in because they provide cheap booze for the loud-mouth.

Tandleman said...

Seems you are in the wrong branch Dave. As a CAMRA member you can nominate any branch you like. Come and join mine and see how it should be done!

Curmudgeon said...

Price never seems to be an issue in my local branch either, and two Robinson's pubs which are consistently the most expensive in the area for that particular brewer are regular GBG entries.

ChrisM said...

Likewise, one of our award winners and regular GBG entries is considerably more expensive than most pubs in the area, whereas out of the 5 McSpoons in our branch only one of them is in the guide - and it's purely because it's a good pub, nothing to do with price.

John Clarke said...


You might "know" that price is a criterion in one particular CAMRA branch but that's as far as it goes. Less of the generalisations please.

Mark, said...

10 or 20p off a pint isn't going to make me go to the pub on a school night. Not remotely. It might help the more frugal regular pub goers select an extra pint in one pub over another but it ain't gonna save a single pub. Not nearly.

Price might be a factor in going out decisions but it seems to me the beer world is verging on the ignorant of the huge void of pub goers from future generations, on who price has nothing or little to do with it what they do of an evening.

Curmudgeon said...

You are so right, Mark.

I received today my next year's worth of Wetherspoon 50p-off-a-pint vouchers.

I haven't used any of the January-March ones, and I wonder how many of next year's I will use.

But I have been in plenty of pubs in the meantime...

Sat In A Pub said...

An over reaction if I've ever seen/heard one. What exactly is the problem? Pubs, on an individual basis, have for a long time approached CAMRA (note not the other way round) to offer discounts. CAMRA are merely expanding on that. Secondly, the discounts are minimal at best and to suggest that they would affect the GBG is bordering on the libellous.

From the man who wants the tie scrapped and pubs free from outside interference, this is strange. Are you against pubs targeting a potentially lucrative market? Or is it just more anti-CAMRA rhetoric?

It seems other memebers in your branch have a slightly different recollection of the GBG meeting. I was told that Wetherspoons got in simply on the larger choice of beers they offer and price was not an issue.