Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leave Me Alone, Loyalty Cards

I don't know what it is today with the "loyalty card" trend. When I go shopping, which is rare beyond necessary bathroom items and food, I always know exactly what I'm looking for. I've usually thought it out in advance, counted the cost of the items against my budget, and I want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Of course, I expect that whomever is on the opposite side of the counter is going to try to sell me something in addition to my planned purchase. For example, I recently visited a Clinique counter to buy a moisturizer I really like, but I can rarely afford. I selected the moisturizer, made every sign I could that I was ready to cash out, and:

"Are you interested in any eye creams?"

"No, thank you."

"Would you like to try any make-up colors today?"

One question I can take, but two questions when I'm standing there, wallet out and debit card in hand? Seriously?

Or in GNC where I wanted to buy two boxes of probiotics: First, a store employee made a move to open up a second register so I could cash out faster, and, for some reason, she couldn't get the other check-out guy's attention to help her unlock the register. Then, after the other customers had long since left, she finally started to check me out.

"Are you interested in signing up for a loyalty card today?"

"No, thank you."

"Do you know about our loyalty card program?"

"Yes, it has been mentioned to me before."

"I mean, if you sign up, the next time you buy these, it will be X dollars off from that purchase."


I visited seven stores of varying kinds today. Of these, in five stores I was either offered some kind of a customer loyalty card or some kind of a special credit card specifically for that store. Of the remaining two, I already possessed a credit card for the store in one case, and the other does not offer either loyalty cards or credit cards of any kind.

When I select my items and get up to the register, I don't appreciate being detained for an extra two minutes while I am offered all kinds of cards and coupons or while I am being solicited for personal information like my e-mail address, home zip code, or phone number. In an attempt to capture customers and keep them coming back, companies are sending some of their more loyal customers running into the nearest alternative. I return to many of the same stores already without loyalty cards upon which I can rack up points. I go there because they have a product I like, for example, which is really what it is all about. However, I am more than willing to find a similar product I like just about as much--maybe even significantly less--in another store where I know for sure that I can cash out quickly and reliably. If Walgreens is closest to me, I'm going to go to Walgreens. I'm not going to take a detour miles away to a CVS simply because of a point-gathering piece of plastic.

So, for heaven's sake, leave me alone. If you do, I may be inclined to return to your store.


Dave King said...

This is absolutely as it is. It has the ring of truth throughout.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your blog in a round about way through Darla Sue Dollman's Wild West History blog. I guess your title resonated with me! I'd like to follow along for a while if that's ok.

Snowcatcher said...

Right on the nose!

Years and years and centuries ago, I worked drive-though in a very popular fast-food restaurant. We were expected (and sometimes "graded") to suggestive sell at least one item on every order. I always felt the customers were going through drive-through because they were in a hurry, not so they could be pushed into buying more than they already knew they wanted.

So I'm very glad to hear I may have been right, because I rarely, rarely ever suggested any more than what the customer ordered!

Pearl said...

I feel the same way. I don't patronize any store often enough to care about getting 30 cents off something the next time I'm in. There's not enough room in my purse to also start carrying "loyalty" cards. They want me to be loyal, THEY can keep track of me!

"Upselling" is amongst my peeves. "Would you like fries?" If I wanted them, I would've ordered them, but I suppose enough people say "Sure. Why not" for it to now be a part of the job description.


Confessions from the Hairdresser said...

When I used to work in retail stores that had them I was actually appalled by the training materials that they provided in the form of lists of "objections, and how to overcome them." I recognize these efforts now that I'm just a customer at these same stores and I find it AWFUL to be treated with such aggression in the form of employees flat-out combatting me when I decline their stupid cards. It's awful that companies will literally teach their employees to argue. My old response to "you don't want a card? Why not?" used to be a very paternal "BECAUSE I SAID SO," but lately I've converted to a response that has been lifted directly from information provided in training materials: "I do not want a loyalty card because statistically customers that have them spend more and I do not want to spend more at your store."
The worst is the CREDIT CARDS! One thing I was always bad at was trying to open credit cards. I can not in good conscience tell people that they need to open store cards knowing that it means I'll inevitably be paying for those peoples' bankruptcy later. Ugh.

Great blog, by the way, I saw you over at the Bitchy Waiter :)

pilgrimchick said...

Kim: Welcome!

Pearl: I completely agree with you--they should be working a lot harder to keep us coming back.

Hairdresser: Amazing--there really is such a thing as a set of directions about how to overcome objections? "Because I said so" truly should say it all. I wonder what the lists say about that.

Forever Foster said...

We have a loyalty card at the pet supply store. It felt a bit special when they upgraded us to the Gold card. The only difference was the colour of the card, but that was enough to suck us in!

The World According To Me said...

I agree, sometimes you just want to shop and go! I have the same problem with the my bank and mobile phone company continually calling me with so called offers I don't want!

pilgrimchick said...

According to Me: I always dread calling up either the bank or a credit card company because I know no matter what I called about, I am going to get solicited to upgrade something or take advantage of this offer, etc. Sometimes, I just want to know my balance.