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December 12, 2011

Why I hate air miles (and other "rewards" programs)

This post has been in the back of my mind for years. Here it is at last. I’m fed up with “air miles” and similar “rewards programs” such as we are frequently bombarded with by credit card vendors, banks, airlines, phone companies, and other businesses. The reason I would be a repeat customer for a particular product or service over one from a competing vendor is primarily because the product itself seems to be superior in various ways. Yes, price of that product is a factor, but I don’t need or want to be incented to buy (typically unrelated) things that have nothing to do with why I am even considering doing business with a specific vendor. Western households typically have too much “stuff” already, and I find incentives to buy more to be offensive. Buying decisions should be made on the basis of product merit, economics, environmental impact, and suitability to task, not the promise of a vacation in the sun.
As for customer loyalty, vendors, that should be earned by the quality of your product and your service alone. That is what you should focus on. Bribes such as “rewards programs” actually make me suspicious of your immediate product offering, in that they make me suspect that the product offering itself can’t stand on its own merits. Extraneous “perks” that you offer are a negative to me. That you as a vendor spend resources on managing such programs, even if you outsource them, means you aren’t spending those resources on making the best product or having the best service. I also don’t want more privacy-invading purchase tracking, across unrelated vendors at that. Such programs have nothing positive to do with why I would consider your product. In fact, if you, like so many other companies, persist in pushing offers of such “rewards” at me, you can be certain that I will regard that negatively and will favour competitors’ products over yours.
Now you know. I feel better now :-).

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