Punish the customer

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Madeleine's picture
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It's easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back

Worth thinking about that the next time you're annoyed at a customer.

Or when you're dreaming up a policy designed to punish a few outlier customers while it actually annoys all of them.

Tell me again why the gift certicates you sell have an expiration date?

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Actually I think the GC is a really bad example in Seth's article, as for most of us, it is pure logistics to put an expiration date on them, not as a form of punishment.

We are not Macy's and live on and on... (even tho many of those dept stores don't either! I think I still have a Gift card for Mervyns. boo hoo hoo)

Now for those who will say "The law states" yada yada yada, I can't drive 55. 

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Proud Texan's picture
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Madeleine,  it's a bit extreme to say that we are punishing people by having expiration dates on gift certificates.  That's a standard business practice.

We, like Breakfast Diva,  sell gift certificates on the Reservaton Key.   They are for a specific dollar amount and are good for six months.

Presently,  I post what one night costs including the tax.  That way they can purchase a complete night and the recipient is not out any money.   It would be annoying for the recipient to get a gift certificate that only paid for part of their stay and they were out of pocket for the balance.  What the heck kind of gift is that?

If gift certificates are for a set amount and there is no expiration,  then what do you do when you need to raise your rates?  What happens to the gift certificate if you sell your B&B?  Will it still be honored by the new owner?

If there is any annoyance at all from the purchaser, it's because on many occasions the gift certificates they buy are never redeemed.   Why do you think retailers love selling gift cards?   Nine times out of ten they are never redeemed and it just means free money for them.   

If someone has a problem with expiring gift certificates,  then don't buy them.   Punishing the customer?  Really?  I Don't think so.

 

Madeleine's picture
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I guess no one noticed that is a link to someone else's comments. A brand marketer who has some good advice. Like JB says, 'I just post this stuff, I don't make it up.'

As for GC's, it's one example of his where we (business owners) could be a little proactive. But, we're all entitled to run the biz as we see fit. In my case, I just refunded a GC because the people who bought it are leaving the country and won't be able to use it in the next 3 weeks before they ship out. My call. I could have kept the money, but why? I'm getting the product returned to me, why keep their money?

My business is small enough that I can keep track of the couple of thousand dollars outstanding on the GC's that haven't been used. (Now $360 less than yesterday.) If I sell the business and they're still outstanding? I'm not planning on selling for so low a price that a couple of thousand is the difference between walking away with money in my pocket and walking away to live in a tent somewhere.

And I really don't care about the $10 it cost to process the cc in the first place.

I felt this way before I read the blog post. I still feel this way.

 

 

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Madeleine wrote:

I guess no one noticed that is a link to someone else's comments. A brand marketer who has some good advice. Like JB says, 'I just post this stuff, I don't make it up.' 

I noticed the BIG BLUE LETTERS as being a link to the orig article, in fact I clicked to see if there was more to it, but realized it was Seth, and his K.I.S.S method, which works for me.

Hard to argue with someone else, but usually people chase phantoms and go after spelling and grammer on my "linked" articles (ha ha).

 

Proud Texan's picture
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  Didn't notice the link.    But I still stand by what I said.   We're not hard-assed about gift certificates.  If there are extenuating circumstances,  we make allowances.  But,  "I forgot to use my gift certificate"   is not a good enough excuse.   

AND just because there is an expiration date on the gift certificate doesn't mean they have to stay with us within the next 6 months,  only make a reservation in that time.  We have people booking months in advance for area activities.   If they're not coming in the next 18 months,  then they're probably not coming.

If they don't want the gift certificate,  then they can give it to someone else, which is exactly what one older couple did.   Their friends bought the gift certificate for them (not knowing what to get them) for their 50th wedding anniversary.  He didn't want to go to "no dang bed and breakfast".   So, they gave the gift certificate to a young soldier who was about to be deployed and his young wife.

We had a church buy a gift certificate for their pastor so that he and his wife could get away.    One month after it expired,  he called to make a reservation.  It seems the church secretary bought the gift certificate,  but never read the letter that came it with or even gave the certifcate to the pastor.  They just told him he had a gift certificate.  It wasn't his fault,  so we let him come.

I can be kind,  but I do not mind taking someone elses money because they are not thoughtful about how they spend their money.  

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

The first gift certificate I ever sold was a teenager buying a Christmas present for her parents. She was so grateful i even took her seriously - she actually thanked me for talking to her. About a year later, her Mother called to ask if the certificate was still good. They had had "Parent Patrol"  (as we call it) issues and had been unable to use the certificate. I told her of course it was still goos - her daughter bought it for her. It ended up being almost 2 years after it was issued that the certificate was used.

I do not believe in leaving price tags on gifts. I sell a package or a room certificate. Each is individually designed and personalized stating what exactly is in the certificate so no one (including me) gets confused about what they are getting. If the rate has gone up, it went up. I had the money when I needed it so the rate difference is the "juice" on the cash advance - yes cash. I require a check to be sent for the cost + tax - no credit card transaction. I even tell the customer why a credit card cannot be used - the fee if I punch in the numbers is too high. Do I sell a lot of GCs? Used to sell more, but only have 2 outstanding at this point in time and I do not expect one of those to even come (it is my version of a Groupon that did not get used) as it was a birthday present from a wife to her husband about 10 years ago. At the bottom of each purchased gift certificate are the words - No Expiration Date

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Madeleine wrote:

Tell me again why the gift certicates you sell have an expiration date?

Because legally I can and I don't want the long term liability.

Semi Hijack Warning - Since I've gone to ResKey gift certificates using Paypal (Paypal is only for GCs), I've sold more certificates than ever before. I think people really love that they can print up the certificate immediately. I've sold more in the off season (not Christmas time) and for more $$$ than before.

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10/07/2008

 Yep and every policy we have is due to a bad guest situation.

Madeleine's picture
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It's true. Our deposit policy is based on last minute cancels holding bad cc numbers. If it didn't amount to thousands of dollars we wouldn't have done it. Ditto the 'no dogs left behind' policy. And 'no kid left behind'. All due to people who have done that and left us with the problems.

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Mine don't, but I will tell you why most companies do it, accounting practice. Do you know how much of a float American Express has on it's books because of traveller's cheques? Over $5 Billion dollars and they aren't paying a cent in interest. But that number has to stay on their books as a liability forever unless they are cashed. Stolen, burned, frozen or lost, American Express can never declare the money as being theirs. Corporations are greedy and they don't want to give back that money. So essentially they want a date when they can move the money from liability to asset. Greedy!

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