Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Devil and the Details

Discounts, freebies, rebates, rewards, all fantastic offers…until you get a look at the fine print. Buried in the legalese and .05 pitch print, you’ll find the hurdles, hoops (flaming or otherwise), and specific number of degrees you’ll have to bend over backward to obtain these “gifts.”

The devil I’m referring to is the “man” (actually a department) that dreamed up this fly ointment, otherwise known as a marketing plan (or customer draw). The details are the actual prevention, also known as fine print. A company WANTS to offer you something for nothing (or seemingly nothing), but doesn’t want to lose anything in the process—perception is everything. So they will insert some sort of legalese (my husband refers to this as “the weasel clause”) to prevent you from walking away with the store tucked under your arm.

The trouble with this cleverly-crafted sales increase method is that more and more of us don’t bother to look into those pesky details, and we get caught in the Venus flytrap of marketing schemes…then we choose to voice our own ignorance in the form of a warning to others!

Instead of naming specific stores and specific traps to watch out for, why not advocate more and better understanding of the fine print that accompanies every such marketing ploy? If you see or hear of an offer that sounds too good to be true, chances are it bears some further research. If you don’t see a weasel-word clause in teeny print next to or under the sales increaser, then you must be smart enough to ASK for the details in writing. Every sales plan has the fine print available in take-home format (brochure or one-sheet paper), so you may peruse the details at your leisure under a magnifier (and you will want one, trust me).

If we lived our entire lives just walking into traps like we do when buying things, none of us would be around to read this—and I wouldn’t be around to write about it. Instead of blissfully and blindly buying into too-good offers, take a look at what goes into that offer. Remember, the only free lunch is at warehouse stores in the form of food samples—everything else has strings attached. It’s up to you to find the strings and cut them, or avoid the “stringed” item altogether. If you can’t find the strings, you’ve uncovered the ultimate customer trap and should run away quickly.


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