I was sat on a bench just now, and a bus cruised past with the American Express advert across it – exclaiming about rewards.
Now I know you know this, but these rewards, they’re not are they? You buy stuff, there’s profit involved – and some of that goes to the a C/Card company who charge you interest, and then they give you a tiny bit back, from the amount they’ve already just been paid – by the same people who you just bought the stuff off of.
Sort of mind games for idiots, to be honest. I wonder how many branding professionals could be told to fuck off if we just didn’t bother? If the circle of crap was broken, lost most of it’s spokes and the value was the price paid, full stop.
Reward. There’s a word. Reward, there it is again – the same one. Twisted into a meaning that’s meaningless. It’s the same with Loyalty cards. You get points, be it for stamps on your card in a coffee shop, or automatically for going back to the same supermarket, or visiting one of the outlets whose cartel involve themselves in the same branding program.
And here’s the odd bit – this is about Loyalty – get the poor sods into the frame of mind where they’ve built-up some perceived value (points), and now daren’t sway away too far because (ha! like saving?) they can add to and increase their future reward. They’re trapped.
Never mind if said supermarket charges 30% more than the German one down the road, never mind if the £75 you’ve saved-up in your points by Christmas could’ve been £275 LESS spent in the year running-up, if the supermarket hadn’t been involved in these shenanigans and all their attendant costs.
But it’s worse isn’t it – now they are tracking where you spend and WHAT YOU BUY, enormous chunks of your data roll around the planet – by god, if we used half this amount of ingenuity and focus on some real-world problems it would help n’cest pas?
Yet for the bigger stuff, the telecoms, the utilities, the insurance, the bankers – loyalty is precisely not going to get you any rewards is it? Deals go to new customers, advertising is pitched at new customers – we want your money, for this deal only.
One commentator even put it this way – They’re either a creepy way to monitor and exploit your habits or a desperate gambit by weak retailers to distract you from their own shortcomings. Most companies use loyalty programs as a crutch when they’re out of ideas, and, therefore, these schemes are ultimately bad for customers as well. If a cashier tries to shove a loyalty card into your hand, it’s a good indicator that you should be taking your business elsewhere.
I sort knew instinctively – all those (30-odd) years ago, that this was a distraction, somehow I wouldn’t be seeing what I needed to see and feel if I allowed myself to indulge in this crap – it never, never really pays.