Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing

Investment companies, retail establishments, and even museums all want customer feedback to know what’s working and what isn’t. To get that information, they offer survey questions.  Then they have to figure out how to motivate the customers to take the time, which can range from 5 to 25 minutes, to answer those questions.

Usually an outright bribe will work, but only if your marketing department knows what it’s doing.

Big brand survey bribes are everywhere…

I’ve seen a variety of bribes offered for surveys. Vanguard offered a $25 Amazon gift card for completing its rather extended survey. The Museum of Natural History has offered free tickets for a future visit for its brief survey. Gap and its affiliates generally offer a 20% off code for filling out online surveys with instructions on a sales receipt. CVS often asks for feedback with the lure of the possibility of winning $1,000, and Home Depot offers the chance to win rather than an outright prize.

OfficeMax Triple Fail

Tell us about your shopping experience…

Most recently, I succumbed to the offer I saw printed on the Office Max receipt issued on August 16th. It said:

“Tell us about your next shopping experience and get $5 off your next $25 purchase.”

(I’ve included a picture of the receipt so you can see that I am not removing any * or fine print associated with that offer, and so you can also see what does follow it. Click on the image for a bigger version.)

I answered all the questions and even typed in a number of sentences explaining exactly what was less than satisfactory during my shopping experience. Upon completion of the survey, I was told that the coupon would be emailed to me after 24 hours. Fine, I waited. I waited another day, and then another.  I never saw what I was expecting to see, so I called Office Max and got the helpful rep to email it out again.

That’s when I realized I had actually received the email, but I didn’t recognize it as the “prize” because it didn’t say something like “Here’s your $5 off coupon.” Instead it said: “➡ Open Me for a $30 Coupon.” Sounds very generic and almost spam-like, doesn’t it? That subject made it sound like a totally different promotion. In fact, it did include the $5 off coupon, as well, though you’d never know it from the subject line. That was fail #1 in this marketing round.

$5 of your next purchase (if you buy during this four day window)

Fail #2 was the coupon itself, which I’ve included here. Remember how the offer was worded? It simply said “$5 off your next $25 purchase.” That indicates that the only restriction is a minimum purchase. The coupon itself, though, comes loaded with restrictions, from the short window in which the coupon is valid through the numerous items toward which it cannot be applied.

While Office Max is within its rights to restrict the use of the coupon, it is not within its rights to misrepresent it as unrestricted when luring the customers to spend their time on the survey. It’s only then that they reveal the fine print, after the customers have done their part of the bargain in good faith.

While the monetary value may still be the same, the delayed revelation of restrictions does still make this appear to be a bait-and-switch. Misleading promotions have no place in a business that prides itself on its integrity. And this bring us to fail #3: the juxtaposition of the survey offer and Office Max’s boast about living “great values.”

In, OfficeMax Named Among World’s Most Ethical Companies, Ravi Saligram,  the company’s President and CEO declares,

 “At OfficeMax, one of our most absolute values is integrity.  It is the backbone of our relationships and the basis on which we make business decisions.”

Well, the triple fail on this promotion indicates that backbone seriously needs to straighten out.

Note: before writing this, I called Office Max to let them know that I found the offer misleading. The phone rep dutifully took down what I told her, but she was not empowered to do anything other than assure me that she would pass it on to the marketing department.  I wonder if they will appreciate the fact that I tried to impress on her: the best way to lose customer loyalty is to make someone feel duped.

Guest post by Ariella Brown

Ariella Brown writes on marketing, analytics, technology, the internet, and social media, among other things. She holds a PhD in English. Links to post appear at WriteWayProductions. She welcomes connections on LinkedIn and conversations at Google+.

 

Comments

  1. Matt, you seem to insinuate I was venting on the employee. This was not the clerk in the store. I called the corporate number for customer service to let them know how their campaign was misleading. It happens to be her job to get that kind of call, so whether she cares about it personally or not is irrelevant. I considered it only fair to contact the company and give it a chance to respond before writing on a public forum.

  2. Ariella,

    I apologize for your less than satisfactory experience with our store survey. I would like the opportunity to further review your concerns, please email me at socialmedia@officemax.com. I look forward to speaking with you.

    Thank you,

    Zack
    OfficeMax

  3. You tried to impress customer service at a corporate level ON THE EMPLOYEE who took your message? Sorry, she doesn’t care and she shouldn’t. Just have her take down your message and pass it along, all you did was make her day more miserable by trying to “impress” anything on her.

  4. Great informative article, i got some idea about office max marketing from your post. Thanks a lot for sharing. I’ll visit your blog again.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Bruno. If only Zappos sold office and school supplies, shopping for them would be a lot more fun. At least we’d get witty emails rather than ones that have spam-like titles. And there would be no pretense that the offers are rewards for taking the time to answer the survey questions.

  6. What an article! This is marketing misery “par excellence”! Hard to believe that companies can do this to their customers and to themselves! This is flat out lying, deceiving and misleading to say the least! I hope stacks of people will read this posting and hand out a complimentary copy to Office Max for their review of “ethics” , customer experience and what I would call abuse of people’s time! Unfortunately for them the results of such practices are long term and one wonder why 10 years later or often much sooner such companies disappear and vanish, overtaken by Zappos, Google or Starbucks! They themselves have only their own deceiving practices to blame!!

Trackbacks

  1. RT @level343: Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing #Big Brands http://t.co/jJmHQpQC

  2. Laura Crest says:

    DOH! RT @level343: Survey Says: Triple #Fail for Office Max Marketing #Big Brands http://t.co/w8HQt1JW

  3. RT @level343: Survey Says: Triple #Fail for Office Max Marketing #Big Brands http://t.co/OHh8wPa8

  4. RT @level343: Survey Says: Triple #Fail for Office Max Marketing #Big Brands http://t.co/OHh8wPa8

  5. Adam justice says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/pGtKZjwO via @SEOcopy

  6. GenuineSEO says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/IailZJUf via @SEOcopy

  7. Paul Spoerry says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/gJ0Urbtk via @SEOcopy

  8. Kathi Kruse says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/INO1ia7c via @SEOcopy

  9. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/I1ixUPcU via @SEOcopy

  10. Tonia Ries says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/Wo5W9DJj via @SEOcopy

  11. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/EEEMOlVa via @SEOcopy

  12. Jeff Jacobs says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/Snz9XQ3k via @SEOcopy

  13. MeetuSinghal says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/dtBkjSlt via @SEOcopy

  14. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/NMlyZ0Bs via @SEOcopy

  15. Amy Vernon says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/tSD5wD3Q via @SEOcopy

  16. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/9IWLPzg8 via @SEOcopy

  17. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/SdKHz3yu via @SEOcopy

  18. Tibor Shanto says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/HDXXuPbd via @SEOcopy

  19. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/BoUfnh9u | Our latest post by @AriellaBrown thank you :)

  20. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/d40n00lV

  21. Misty Waters says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/DbLXA2qZ via @SEOcopy

  22. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/jtskOLlO

  23. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/imIrYTfs | A must read about big companies #FAIL

  24. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/fE2GMmjP via @SEOcopy

  25. Avi Joseph says:

    Fresh Squeezed post – Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/BoUfnh9u | Great post by @ariellabrown

  26. Avi Joseph says:

    Fresh Squeezed post – Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/BoUfnh9u | Great post by @ariellabrown

  27. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/19EDm9YC via @SEOcopy

  28. RT @seocopy: Fresh Squeezed post – Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/epuQEZFR | Great post by @AriellaBrown

  29. Fresh Squeezed post – Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/BoUfnh9u | Great post by @ariellabrown

  30. Thomas says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/UgUnIJVZ via @SEOcopy

  31. Shaan Haider says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/UEzEC8w9 via @SEOcopy

  32. TECHPLUGGED says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/aCUzqbyR via @SEOcopy

  33. TECHPLUGGED says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/BDekC09C via @SEOcopy

  34. Marion says:

    A lesson to be learned here. RT @unbounce –> Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/iwM1jde0 via @SEOcopy

  35. Unbounce says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/UUbj41Z9 via @SEOcopy

  36. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/Q2VrgW6s :: @web-designs.gr

  37. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/41K4Ubhp

  38. Tritia Pocci says:

    INTERNET: Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/NjdaDrUf #internet #web

  39. Jaheed says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing: Categories:BrandingOnline MarketingSocial MediaTags: Big Bran… http://t.co/ihO2uhxF

  40. RT @SEOcopy Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/scLHJiF5

  41. RT @SEOcopy Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/scLHJiF5

  42. David Harry says:

    RT @SEOcopy Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/MQXTlO1e

  43. Ana Hoffman says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/0dyx6JOb via @SEOCopy

  44. Yu Lin Shen says:

    Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing http://t.co/Vb2sfgDV

  45. Survey Says: Triple Fail for Office Max Marketing: Investment companies, retail establishments, an… http://t.co/z7ZSdRrp via @level343

Speak Your Mind

*