CX Bloopers

Bolton Wanderers F.C. Should Roll Back its Membership Scheme, For Now

A knee-jerk reaction that will inevitably hurt the club

Mark Ainscow
10 min readNov 9, 2021

I’m a lifelong Bolton Wanderers supporter who happens to be a Customer Experience Designer. In many roles where I’ve mentored new designers, I’m constantly on the lookout for solid examples of customer experience design, which also means looking for terrible examples of customer experience design, too. And a few days ago I found one, a terrible horrible one, way too close to home.

A few weeks ago, my beloved BWFC enacted a compulsory membership scheme. Fundamentally, I’m not so opposed to a membership scheme. If implemented properly, it’s nothing more than a minor inconvenience — and maybe it gives the club the opportunity to give those non-season ticket holders some incentives to go to more matches, and maybe put them on the path to become a season ticket holder. Supermarkets do it, airlines do it, why shouldn’t BWFC? What if I went to three matches and got £3.99 off a scarf in the club shop? And then there’s the safety issue too — I know this shouldn’t be a thing, but it is. If the club knows your name and address, there is less of a chance you’d do something daft.

The scheme was first referenced on October 25th (I don’t actually remember seeing the announcement that day) but gained more attention the following day when the club announced it was banning some fans due to their behavior during a match against Wigan Athletic. Appended to the end of a lengthy club announcement banning some supporters, the club wrote,

“Wanderers are also introducing a compulsory, free Club Membership scheme for all supporters buying match-day tickets to help the club be aware of who is entering the stadium and to maximise ground safety.”

I actually thought it was a good idea, but what I didn’t expect was that it was going to start within two weeks. I’ve been doing this long enough to know a bad customer experience strategy when I see one, and this was bad. This was a knee-jerk reaction. Changing the process for a…



Mark Ainscow

Dad/Husband/UXer/Photographer/Brit/Yank/BWFC/Red Sox — Taker of photos and writer of a few words to surround them.