My employer’s phone-number-based sales are annoying. Their contests (“you’re buying beer, so enter your mobile number for a chance to win a stein”) are annoying and pointless. Worst of all, though, are the Clubs.
It started with coffee. They used to have punch cards we could hand out to customers — buy six coffees and get one free. That wasn’t electronic enough, though, so late last year they started asking “Coffee Club” “members” (barf) to type their mobile numbers into the register, and a server somewhere would track their coffee purchases for them. This had the following effects:
- The customers have to use one of our register touchscreens. I have to use one, too, but I’m paid to put up with these buggy, unresponsive machines. They aren’t, and they rightfully resent it.
- The server sometimes (allegedly) loses track of coffee purchases.
- The register also sometimes fails to display the correct amount of “Coffee Club” progress, so customers think the server fucks up more often than it does.
- The customers can’t choose when they get that free coffee. This is relevant because we also have a sale on coffee once a week, so they’d be better off not getting the free one that day. The only way for them to control this is to remember their “Coffee Club” progress (assuming the register showed it accurately last time), and no, it isn’t on their receipt or anything, because that would be useful.
- The number of coffees they buy before getting that free one changed from six to five, as partial, feeble, insufficient recompense.
But corporate got to tell their investors that they’re innovating and tech-savvy now, and that’s what matters to them.
(The also get some phone numbers they can sell to marketers. Internal rumor has it they don’t, but they sold my phone number to marketers when I got a payroll debit card, so how much am I supposed to trust them on that?)
Apparently corporate thinks the “Coffee Club” is a smash hit, because they’ve since done the same with…
- coconut water
- one brand of flavored water
- one brand of orange juice
- one brand of chewing tobacco
- and one brand of candy bar.
We used to think Radio Shack was obnoxious about phone numbers. We had no idea.