Service of Marketing that Hits a Sour Note: Details and the Devil

January 19th, 2017

Categories: E-tailing, Magazines, Marketing, Newspapers, Promotions, Publishing, Restaurant, Retail, Subscriptions

New Yorker circ photo

I bought some items online during an after Christmas sale and almost three weeks later got a notice from the store that one of the items wasn’t available. OK. That happens. “LET US MAKE IT UP TO YOU,” came a proposal for a “gift”–$10 off a $100 purchase. This hit a sour note: It sounded like “heads they win; tails I lose.” Otherwise I like the store.

The next two examples are courtesy of the circulation departments of a magazine and newspaper considered top of the line in their categories. I subscribe to and admire both. However, they appear to be trying to save money by selecting under par fulfillment and promotion partners at just the time they need to excel.

  • The magazine has been nagging me to renew my subscription months early and if I do, I’ll get a free subscription as a gift. [Always suspicious, I envision losing the months I’ve already paid for, between now and the end of the original subscription, and I don’t want to waste time untangling this potential glitch.] Fine writing and elegance are just two of the magazine’s selling points and the subscription is costly. That’s why I didn’t expect to see a typo in the first word of the third line [“your”] printed on a piece of cheap scrap paper enclosed in their correspondence seeking my business. [See photo above.]
  • The newspaper didn’t deliver its weekend and Monday issues last week. I called customer service on Tuesday making clear that we didn’t want the credit, we wanted the newspapers. The operator [from a far-off land] said he understood. On Wednesday we received a second copy of the Tuesday issue. I called back and was told they would have to mail us the weekend and Monday copies and that this would take from seven to 10 days. I had already spent far too much time on this mistake and snapped “fine, do that,” and hung up. Still waiting.
  • All this reminds me of a restaurant we went to in the Berkshires years ago that served remarkable food in an enchanting setting with a terrible hostess who ran the room like a general during a military operation readiness inspection {ORI}. The tension her approach achieved added a false note to an otherwise pleasant experience. We learned later that her husband was the chef. Nevertheless, she ruined the evening.

Do you have other examples of an irritating detail that conflicted with the otherwise high quality of a product or service?

$10 off $100 turned

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4 Responses to “Service of Marketing that Hits a Sour Note: Details and the Devil”

  1. hb Said:

    I have more examples of such foolish marketing than time to write them down. The most common error, I think, is when the vendor becomes pretentious about his product or service, it invariably suffers and disappoints. The k.i.s.s. (Keep it simple stupid.) rule applies.

    A good example is the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station in New York, and I mean the bar itself, where I have eaten for over 75 years. (My father first took me there in June of 1941.) Over the years, the service has ranged from mediocre to extraordinarily good if someone you know is serving you, and the stews and pan roasts are usually terrific, but occasionally one comes out curdled. Except for the Dutch herring once a year for three weeks, the menu food is routine, but the shellfish are consistently spectacular and fairly priced for the city.

    Best of all, there is nothing fake about the place. No false or misleading promises.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I, too, love the Oyster bar–the bar itself. There’s a man who sits by the door–I suppose he does the accounts for one of the restaurants, not sure. He’s a grouch. I take pleasure in greeting him when I enter [there was a time I went almost once a week], and he never even grunts any sort of recognition in return.

    I also agree with you about uneven service and execution of the soups but it’s mostly very good. The fellow who curdled my soup twice [he didn’t know how to introduce a cold milk to the hot liquid] wasn’t there when I returned.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    We’re human, and regardless of the quality of a given establishment, someone is bound to slip sometime. If a store were to try to weasel its way out of an error by offering a discount of $10.00 on the $100.00 I would make every effort to have them see it my way: 50% off next purchase. If that doesn’t work, reminding them that they will never see me again will cost them well over that 50%, might do the trick. If not, I’m gone.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good idea. Need to figure out whom to contact.

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