J. C. Penney uses questionable tactics to ‘reward’ loyal customers

I love it when a person honestly recognizes that I’m a loyal customer. And I look for nothing more than a thanks. Because loyalty is not about money. It’s about being in a relationship that works for both people, whether it’s business or personal.

But I hate it when a company clubs me over the head with a sales pitch presented as a “reward” for being a loyal customer. I especially hate it when they try to force something on me I don’t want. Then I have to cancel it or I get charged for it after the “free” period has expired.

The large retailer J.C. Penney did this not long ago. They called to inform my wife how thrilled they were that she has been a loyal customer for so many years. So they decided, out of the goodness of their big corporate heart, to “give” her several months of some type of insurance coverage – absolutely free.

I have news for you smarty marketing types at J.C. Penney who thought up this one. You’re not as smart as you think. And, by the way, not all your customers are as dumb as you seem to think we are.

This is not a gift. It’s not a reward for being loyal. It’s a sales pitch. In fact it’s the worst kind of sales pitch. It’s cloaked in a big fat lie. You are trying to sell us something without any evidence that we want it. And you didn’t even ask. You just assumed we would want it. Because, you said, “it’s our gift to you.”

This is the worst kind of marketing. It’s customer abuse. What makes it hideous is the dishonesty. If you want to contact your customers to offer them insurance, go ahead. But don’t lie about it. Don’t tell me this is some wonderful gift you’re offering. We both know it’s not.

And one other thing. When a customer says “no” to a ridiculous offer like this, train your employees to listen and accept it.

It’s bad enough you have interrupted me, wasted my time and lied to me. Now your employee will not take “No, never, not in a thousand years” for an answer.  She actually argued with me! I had to repeat the word “no” nine times before she accepted it and went on her way.

When companies do this they are abusing the trust and the relationship they have with their customers. They will drive them away. If they do this to enough customers, it will hurt their bottom line.

And since J.C. Penney’s profits are down 48.5% from last year, they might want to rethink this strategy.

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz