Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why I'm Posting a NON book related post here

First off, I'm hoping Liz Pulliam - or another leading money columnist - will see this. I read financial articles regularly. If Liz or someone else doesn't see it, then I hope consumers will see this and think carefully about advertised sales and the wording of them. Liz is often a voice of reason in consumer matters.

A store made an interesting offer to us today. I posted about this on a website and over 80 comments later (and counting) everyone agreed with my take on the situation.

Basically, after complaining about the wording of an advertisement, I got a special "private and preferred offer" (my words) that gave ME 30% off everything I wanted in the store. It was a one time, one day offer, probably because I simply opened my mouth and squawked a bit.

I assume that many other customers did not get that advantage. We were told ONLY YESTERDAY that the card we got in the mail, the SPECIAL SALE CARD FROM A MAJOR RETAILER meant something different, according to "corporate instructions" and that the items in the store were already marked 30% down. The card meant nothing, really, and certainly not the implication that one could come in the store and get 30% off the price on the tags by bringing in the card.

A local manager agreed with OUR complaints about unclear or fuzzy wording, although he had to be called at home by a store rep before he instructed the store rep to give us 30% the already low prices on the items in the store.

I'll update you as the situation progresses and let you know - in this article - how it has progressed thus far.

But first..... how would you interpret this wording: " Find the fashion, accessories and home decor items you want right now at 30% off...." Would you not interpret that to mean that items in a store were 30% off?

Also, these words: " 30% off our original low prices on our best selection of Spring merchandise." as well as the words " Spring savings event - .....slashed 30% BELOW our everyday discount prices". And yes, the word, below, was in caps (as seen immediately above). I did not add that for emphasis.

I could understand the logic that only the "best selection" of Spring merchandise was 30% off. That sounded appealing to me. Gee, I thought, I could go into the store, look at the price tag and get an ADDITIONAL 30% OFF. Otherwise, why send me the card?

So the card was for a Spring sale with items priced 30% off the everyday low prices? If not, why send out a card? I assumed that customers who got the card would get 30% off the prices marked on the price tags on items in the store. I did NOT interpret this to mean that the prices on the prices tags were ALREADY marked down 30% and that you simply paid the price on those tags. This is where the confusion and communication with store management began...over the phone, first, as I voiced my complaints.

When asked about this card, I was told that ALL items I bought today would be 30% off if we spoke to a specific store representative.

I took this to mean that my logic, explained directly but in a controlled tone, was understood and the representative, IMO, indicated some acknowledgment of how confusing the card was to potential buyers.

In other words, by making a phone call and asking questions, I was offered a special and unannounced discount on all merchandise bought today, at 30% beyond what the average buyer probably got. While this gave me a "special savings rate" , my take is that it doesn't do much for most buyers walking through that store. They still pay the price on the price tags.

I think this goes beyond any savings that I myself get today. I think this has to do with consumer opinion, how buyers are treated and how information is processed by the "average consumer"

Maybe I'm just a total nincompoop and my interpretation is not yours. Everything here is accurate. This isn't a humorous article (today.....but life in our home being what it is, tomorrow could be different).

Please weigh in if you ever buy anything and you care about saving money and how things are worded in advertising. Please weigh in if you think I got an unfair advantage. Please weigh in if you think the card was clear - or unclear.

People at one site have already weighed in. Over 70 comments later, they would have interpreted the ad in the same way I did and been told they were "wrong". Hmmmmmmm......