Exceptions | How to Force an Item onto a Card Manually

Exceptions | How to Force an Item onto a Card Manually

What is an Exception?

When you were using paper cards to track your frequent buyer programs you had the "freedom" to write whatever purchases you wanted to on a customer's card. The Exception process allows you to do just that, within reason. When you add an Exception you are forcing a purchased item onto a frequent buyer card that is not currently permitted as a qualifying purchase. You are accepting a certain level of risk when you do this since technically you are breaking the program's written rules in order to add an item to it. Exceptions are meant to be used very sparingly and only in extreme circumstances.

Why would I need or want to add an Exception to a card?

There are four main reasons for adding an exception to a card. Each one of them require that you have a familiarity with the program you are adding the Exception to. You need to be sure that you are still abiding by the rules set forth by the manufacturer.
      * For example, if the program rules state that 40lb bags are excluded then you probably should not use an Exception to add a 40lb bag to a customer's card as a qualifying purchase. If you add an excluded item to a card as an Exception denial of credit is pretty much guaranteed. 

What are the accepted Reasons for Adding an Exception to a card?

  1. New Item / New UPC - This scenario is pretty rare since our contracts with our manufacturer partners require them to send us updated product lists as they become available. But in the off chance that we missed one it can be added as an Exception. Before you add the item make sure that the item is in fact new and not a previously excluded item. Then make sure that you are adding the item to a program card that you are confident we will add it to when we audit the program and update the product list. If the frequent buyer program is categorized according to Species and Size (most are) find the card description that matches the Species and Size of the new item. For example, if the new item is a 12lb bag of Fromm for dogs then it most likely belongs on the Fromm DOG | 12lb & 15lb Kibble | Buy 12 Get 1 Free card.
  2. Larger/Greater Value Item onto Smaller/Lesser Value Card - The strictest rule that can be applied to a program is Least Value Purchased Free. If you are adding a Large item to a Small card via an Exception then you are most likely still abiding by this rule. The item you are adding to the smaller card should be a permissible item on a larger card in the same program. The item must also be the Same Food Type. For instance, if you have a customer with an open Monster Dog 25lb Kibble card and an open Monster Dog 13lb Kibble card, and the 25lb bag on the large card is more expensive than all the 13lb bags on the medium card, then there is a good chance that adding the 25lb bag to the Medium card as an Exception will be acceptable. However, if one card is for the brand Mighty Mutt and one card is for the brand Purrfect Pet then you should not combine them in this way. 
  3. Most Frequently Purchased Free (First Card Only) - This is the riskiest form of an Exception and must abide by several rules. This is to be used for Fromm Paper Card Conversions only. It is meant to be used to help transition your customers who do not want to jump right into a Same Size Free program. When creating this kind of Exception you must be converting a current paper card to a digital card. When redeeming this card you will need to make sure you are choosing and redeeming the Most Frequently Purchased SKU. Customers should understand that all future digital Fromm cards tracked in Astro will abide by the rules of the Official Fromm program on Astro which is Same Size/Species Free, no exceptions. You will not be permitted to continue to run a Fromm paper program in conjunction with a Fromm digital program on Astro. There are many benefits to the Astro program over the paper program. These benefits are outlined here.
  4. Other - Any other reason that is not listed.

Competitor Switches - Competitor Switches are when a customer switches from one brand of food to another and the brand they are switching to has said they would honor the competing brands the customer purchased before they switched. Astro does not condone competitor switches nor can we advise you on how to perform a competitor switch on Astro. Anything in regards to competitor switches should be discussed with your brand reps. 

How do you add an Exception to a program card?

The method for creating an Exception will almost always be the same, the only thing that varies is the Reason that you choose. You add an Exception either by clicking on an empty punch on a program card and checking the box for Exception or you can click the Add Exception link if you get a No Eligible Items or Services Found error. 

What happens after I add an Exception to a card?

An Exception Ticket is created. This ticket is sent to our Support Desk and contains all of the information that you filled into the Exception fields. It also includes the customer's name, the card number and your store's name. These tickets are stored in the My Area section of your Help Desk just in case questions are asked as to why you added the Exception. We will also review these Exception tickets intermittently to look for New Item / New UPC Exceptions. If we find something that looks like it may get flagged or result in a denial of credit we may email you to let you know our concerns, but we will never undo an Exception - you are 100% responsible for the Exceptions you create and upon creating them you accept the risks.

Reason ONE - New Item / New UPC

Adding Exceptions after "No Items Found" Error Appears

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a product is not loaded into a programs list of qualifying items and when the UPC is scanned you get an error message. This more often than not means the item is brand New or the product has undergone a package change and the UPC is new.
  • Make sure you are enrolled in the correct program that contains the item you are scanning.
  • Make sure the product meets all of the criteria for the program and that it is not purposefully excluded from the program.
1. Click Add Exception below the error message.
Click Add Exception

2. Then choose the program you wish to add it to from the drop-down menu provided.  Add the item to the card that it most like qualifies for based on Species, Size, and/or MSRP.
Choose a Program Card to add the item to
3. Fill in all the text fields provided with as much details as possible. Please include Brand / Formula / Size in the Item Description Field and a valid UPC in the UPC Field. (In the example below the UPC is not real) Choose the item from the drop-down at the top of the pop-up that the new item most closely resembles in formula or price, or the SKU that it is replacing. In this example I choose Pure Range as the closest formula to Pure Land. Once all the fields are completely filled in and you have chosen New Item / New UPC as the Reason you can select Add Item.

Fill in all fields with as much detail as possible
4. The Exception will be added to the card under the guise of the placeholder item you chose from the drop-down menu. You will be able to see the Exception you added when you mouse over the green checkmark. When the card reports to your distributor they will see the Exception item you entered, not the placeholder.

Mouse over the checkmark to see the Exception
As soon as the Exception is created an Exception Ticket is sent to our Support Desk. It will also appear as a Ticket under your Help Desk is the My Area section. To access this area first click the red Get Help on your top toolbar then select My Area.

Astro Loyalty Help Desk - My Area
Here is what is contained in the Exception Ticket. You do not need to do anything with this ticket, it's sole purpose is to create an additional record of the Exception just in case the Vendor or the Manufacturer has a question
Exception Ticket

Reason TWO - Larger/Greater Value Item onto Smaller/Lesser Value Card

Remember, you are adding Exceptions at your own risk. Since this version of the Exception process is allowing you to add an item to a card that breaks the weight-class rule we cannot guarantee that you will get credit. So make sure that the Exception item is more expensive than all items on the card you are adding it to. The Exception item must have originated on a Larger card in the same master program the Smaller card belongs to. It also must be the Same Food Type.

Item must belong on a Larger card in the Same Program and be the Same Food Type

1. Click the next empty punch slot on the card you wish to move the Larger/Greater Value item to. In the example above it would be slot 4.
2. Check the box next to Product Exception
Fill in card completely and select the correct Reason

3. Choose an item that most closely resembles the formula you are adding. In this case I chose Pork since the Patties I'm adding are also Pork.
4. Fill in all text fields with the appropriate information - a complete product description including the weight - an accurate UPC. (You can copy/paste the UPC from the original card)
5. Then select Add Item.
6. Now delete the 6lb Pork Patties from the 6lb Pattie Card. To do this click the corresponding green checkmark and select Remove Transaction from the pop-up.

Always make sure you delete the original transaction after you have finished adding the item as an exception to another card. This ensures you are not giving your customers double credit for the same purchase.

Reason THREE - Most Frequently Purchased Free (First Card Only) 

This is for Fromm Paper Card Conversions Only. Each customer can have only one card converted in this way, all future cards must abide by the rules of the Official Fromm program on Astro. This should only be made available to customers who require a transition from one style program to another.

All Fromm paper cards that are converted to digital cards in Astro will need to be marked as such with the date they were added to Astro. You will need to keep them until your Fromm rep is able to come by and collect them from you. Your Fromm rep will also collect all unused paper Fromm cards from you since you will no longer need them.

First you will need to determine the size of the bag that the customer has purchased the most or is most likely to purchase the most. You do not have to determine the exact item they purchased the most frequently yet. This can wait until the card is ready to be redeemed. 

The cards are programmed to reward like-sized items within the same species class, since Same Size is the only stipulation you will have all items within that Size range to choose from at redemption. You will need to make absolutely sure that when you are redeeming the card you are choosing the Most Frequently Purchased Item since that abides by the rules of the card you created. You are not permitted to choose any formula offered to you since those items are only available to those who are redeeming a Same Size Free card.

If you are unsure what size bag will be the customer's most frequently purchased it is best to keep the items as they land when converting the paper card to a digital one normally, and that is on separate sized cards. Once the digital cards are created record the original dates of purchase in the card Notes. Then when you know the size of the bag they have purchased the most frequent you can combine all purchased onto that size card using Exceptions. Click the next available empty punch slot and fill out the Exception making sure to select the Most Frequently Purchased Free option as your Reason. Once the Exceptions are made on the card you are keeping, the other card will need to be deleted so there are no duplicates in the system. Do this by clicking Expand Details, then click Remove Card and Transactions.

If you are confident that you know at least what size their free bag will be you can go ahead and create the combined size card right away. Scan, type or select the most common sized items to add them to the card like you would convert a paper card normally. Then add the odd sized items as Exceptions to that single card. Click the next available empty punch slot and fill out the Exception making sure to select the Most Frequently Purchased Free option as your Reason. Once the digital cards are created record the original dates of purchase in the card Notes.

Remember, a Small Card rewards a small item, a Medium card rewards a medium item, and a Large card rewards a large item. The program cards will tell you in their descriptions the weights they include within their size range.

How to Undo an Exception 

If it was a New Item / New UPC you can simply delete that punch from the card.
If it was any of the other kinds of Exceptions you will need to recreate the card the item originated on and add the item to it. Then once the original transaction is recreated add a note recording the original date of purchase, then delete the Exception you made previously.
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