Saturday, April 11, 2015

Do They Think We're Stupid, Part 3

You've probably received letters and emails and Web hectorings from businesses (credit cards, utilities, banks, investment companies) offering to stop sending you printed paper statements and send you email statements instead. The real reason is that this saves a lot of money for the business. But it has to be sold to the consumer, who feels much more security in printed paper trails than in ephemeral emails.

This from an electric utility:
"As we strive to provide you with the best customer service, we wanted you to know that you have the option to receive your bill online. Paperless Billing is a great alternative way to get your bill, providing convenience and peace of mind." Et cetera.

But the kicker is in the "Two Easy Ways to Sign Up" box. The letter says, "Online, Visit xxx.xxx.com/paperlessbill." That's okay, but then there is a highlighted, yellow box with "Promo Code: QKN3X" in it.

Wait a minute. Aren't promo codes used to get a discount or extra benefit? How can you have a promo code  for signing up for paperless billing? If you don't have the code, will they refuse to sign you up? My guess is that the "promo code" is probably your encrypted account number, but why cast it in terms of a promotional benefit?

Friday, April 03, 2015

Do They Think We're Stupid, Part Two

Have you noticed that marketers and other manipulators claim that negative qualities are actually benefits designed to help you, the consume?

Examples abound.

No, the Nightmare of Perpetual Automatic Charges Is Really a Benefit
"And for your convenience, when you request your free bottle of VitaHysteria, we'll enroll you in our automatic renewal program so that you'll be guaranteed to receive all the vitamins you need."

Irrational? No, We Are Doing This for You
"In order for us to serve you better, you must fill out a new form with every request, even if you are making several requests at the same time."

You Just Don't Understand
Notice: For your protection
No running
No fishing
No campfires
No dogs
No eating
No bicycles
No beach balls
No Frisbees
No loud music
Enjoy Your Beach

You can see that those phrases aimed at you are tipoffs to requirements you won't like:
For your  convenience
To serve you better
For your protection

Do They Think We're Stupid?

It used to be said that "the big print giveth and the fine print taketh away." But now marketers don't hide anything. Take these examples:

TuboTax:
"We'll take your TurboTax fees out of your federal refund for free. You'll need to buy TurboTax Premium Service for $39.95 to get this payment method."

Please define "free." As a window ad on the radio says, "What is the true cost of free?"

(Ironically enough, I had no federal refund.  Instead, I owed money. Talk about PedestrianTax.)

Dutch Glow (and a Hundred Other As-Seen-On-TV come-ons):
"Buy 1 Bottle of Dutch Glow for $10 plus $7.95 S&P and get a Bonus bottle of Dutch Glow, just pay separate $7.95 S&P. As a special Bonus, you will also get a FREE Jumbo Micro Fiber Polishing Cloth. Tax will apply to all NY orders. A $2.00 web surcharge fee will be applied to all orders."

Let's see, for the claimed price of $10 you get--nothing. But for $27.90 you can get two bottles and a microfiber cloth.

Harbor Freight 10-inch Miter Saw
With a super coupon, I got a great deal on a miter saw. The "Regular Price" is listed at $199, but the saw is never for sale at that price, Instead, the regular sale price was listed at $119.99, which is closer to being the true "Regular Price." But the saw shows up on sale brochures for less, and if you can find the right "super coupon," you can own one of these for $82,82.

But wait. There is one little problem. The 10-inch Miter Saw does not include a blade. That's a minimum of $11 to $20 more before the saw will actually work. The box does not mention that the blade is extra.

Quiz Time
What's exploitative about this claim?
"We'll send you a bottle of Miracle Liquid Product absolutely free. Just pay shipping and processing."
"Now you can get a 30-day supply of Vitamin Vital Vim and Vigor FREE of charge. Have your credit card ready."