Gift Horses

A golf ball.

No food-related posts today so I reserve the right to do an additional one next week! Instead, I want to report back on another “what are they thinking” moment I had yesterday. It’s another example of good marketing intentions gone horribly awry and instead of winning new fans, alienating a good customer.
As you probably can guess, I’m on every golf mailing list in the world. Because of that, I get the opportunity to fill out lots of surveys, a chance I generally decline. Recently, however, a survey promised a $15 gift certificate good for use in a high-end manufacturer’s on-line golf store. What the heck – $15 off a dozen balls should be a pretty good deal and worth a few minutes of my time so why not?
I filled out the survey which was sent out by a golf publication to which I subscribe. True to their word, along came a gift code yesterday via email. I went to the on-line store, which has nothing to do with the golf publication, and tried to use the card.  That process was easy – cut and paste the code into a clearly marked box and I was in.  And that’s when the fun began.

The prices in the store were on the high side and if price was my number one issue I could get everything listed for 30%-40% less at a golf discounter.  But I had a gift card!  My thought to get some golf balls (when you are terrible you go through a lot of balls!) was rewarded by a display of this manufacturer’s entire line.  I popped a dozen into my cart and went to check out.  Not so fast.

Shipping – $10.  For a dozen balls.  I’ve had 3 or 4 dozen shipped to me for less than that.  As a former on-line merchant I know that shipping is a place where you can add some margin but remember why I’m there in the first place – this is a reward to me from the golf publication.  My $15 off was pretty much negated by the high shipping costs and the high prices.  Thanks for nothing.

If you’re going to reward customers for something, really reward them.  Using a thank you gift that comes across as “sucker” doesn’t work.  In the end, had I bought the balls using my “reward”, I would have paid more than the amount I could have bought them for almost anywhere.  Am I filling out any more surveys for this publication?  Not likely.  I know it’s not the magazine’s store but they should have checked this out before using it to reward their customers.  Either they approved this or they didn’t do their due-diligence.  Either way, fail.

Have you had an experience like this?  What did you do about it?

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