I received a call from my TV provider the other day. After giving me a pep talk about what a great customer I am, the representative explained that I was about to receive, “A very special offer. Something that we’re only offering to one percent of our clients!” Being polite, I didn’t hang up on the guy, even though I knew I wasn’t going to be interested in whatever he was offering. (We have the bare minimum package and don’t want anything more. For years we didn’t have cable at all, but we moved and now live in a donut hole where we can’t reliably get any sort of over-the air-signals. For the sake of getting the local stations, we signed up.) He proceeds to tell me that I am eligible for any two movie channels of my choice for the price of one. I’ll be getting all this great entertainment for practically nothing!
When I told him no, that I didn’t want to increase my bill at all, he started on a different tack. “But you’ve earned this,” he said. “You’ve been such a great customer that you have earned the right to receive this very select offer. This is a reward for you.” I told him no thank you again and ended the call. But I wondered: How many people fall for the, “You’ve earned it,” sales pitch?
I see this pitch often. It comes with credit card offers that tell me I’ve earned the right to better rewards and higher limits. It comes with loan offers that tell me I’ve earned the right to a new line of credit or bigger mortgage. It comes with vacation offers that tell me I’ve earned the right to stay in a higher class of hotel. It comes when various rewards programs send out brochures telling me that my membership entitles me to some fabulous offer. Every time I turn around I’m being told that I’ve earned some new offer or level of benefits.
Despite the flowery language, all I’ve really “earned” is the right to spend more money. Worse, I’ve earned the right to spend money on something I don’t even need or want. None of these “earned it” offers are free. (That would be something I might actually get behind.) They are all enticements to spend and to give my money to a specific company. Take out that loan or credit card. Come into our store and redeem this reward. Give us a little extra on your monthly TV bill. None of these things are even things I wanted. I don’t want a bigger TV bill. I don’t want another credit card or mortgage. Yet if I were easily swayed, I might really buy into this idea that I am somehow special and that these offers really are only offered to the most preferred clients. I might believe that I should take advantage because I truly have earned this privilege of spending more money.
When you receive an offer like this, the thing you have to ask yourself is, “Is this something I would have bought/am actively looking for, anyway?” If it is and the offer is truly a good one (based on the research you’ve done while considering this purchase), you might want to take advantage. Were I really looking to add movie channels to my package, the offer I received wasn’t a bad one. Two for one is a decent deal and the price they were charging for one wasn’t a jacked up, gouging price.
Just don’t believe that the offer makes you special or confers some elite status upon you. All it means is that the marketing people (or computer) tagged your account to receive the offer based on your prior history. The only thing you’ve earned in this scenario is the right to give some company more of your money.