A friend came over for brunch yesterday, a very bright friend and a former account person who went over, for a number of reasons, to the client side. We had hardly finished schmearing the cream cheese when she began talking about the bloated dumbness of corporate America.
I love it on those rare occasions when I'm not the most cynical in the room and this was one of those moments. Later on in the day, after my friend departed, I fell prey to a banner ad I saw on fortune.com for a free credit report. Figuring I'd be relatively safe given that the ad was on Fortune's site I filled in the requisite information and got my credit score.
Now came the hard part. Unsubscribing from the so-called free service. Ten minutes to find the phone number, ten minutes on hold, and then ten minutes with a persistent rep who kept trying to get me to reconsider. Finally he said, "Mr. Tunerborf (he couldn't pronounce my name) Mr. Talleyrand, because you're a valued customer, we'll take $5 off the monthly price."
Valued customer? I was deceived into being a customer by your hundreds of millions of advertising proclaiming your service to be free. I became your customer 20 minutes ago and since then have been trying to have my name removed. Please define "valued customer."
Then, I get an email from Sony, again promising a special deal because I am a valued customer. My last phone interaction with Sony was a screaming match because they failed to honor the warranty I paid for, "You should have read the agreement before you left the store," the rep said to me. Quickly I imagined myself reading the three pages of single-spaced 6-pt. type.
Oh, there's more, there's more. But to all those companies that worry about their brands and pour millions in to them, worry more about crap like this. Because this is the stuff consumers remember.