Letters: Consumer reaction invalid

I read in the March 6 issue a Perspectives column entitled Someone Out There ('Personalized direct mail can send the wrong message').Our 'higher iq than many' writer does not seem to grasp the basic premise of how and why direct marketing...

I read in the March 6 issue a Perspectives column entitled Someone Out There (‘Personalized direct mail can send the wrong message’).

Our ‘higher iq than many’ writer does not seem to grasp the basic premise of how and why direct marketing works.

Her one-sided, uneducated and simplistic attitude toward direct mail ‘makes me so mad I could spit.’

After reading how upset she was about the raised ‘S,’ I took the liberty of rewriting her Perspectives from a different point of view:

Recently I found something on tv that ticked me off so much so that I felt compelled to continue watching.

It seems to me that these days companies are using state-of-the-art electronic technology to perpetuate an age-old ploy, namely, duping people.

I find few things more annoying than watching tv commercials that try to use sexual images to arouse me. It makes me ask the $64,000 question: ‘How stupid do they think I am?’

The tv commercial in question (I won’t identify it because I can’t remember the brand name) shows a man photographing a voluptuous woman in tight jeans.

As he continues photographing her, she takes off her shirt to reveal a lacy black bra overflowing with a silicone-based substance.

Is this visual drivel supposed to incite me to action? If so, which action?

The commercial then ends with the photographer and the now totally topless bimbo locked in an embrace.

As if, duh, I’m going to think that this is going to happen to me.

Perhaps the female viewing audience are a little more gullible and believe that they will be molested by the Sears studio photographer if they buy these jeans?

You know, the ironic thing is that I need a pair of jeans just now.

I have a great deal of respect for image advertising. Naturally, some campaigns are much more effective than others at swaying opinion and motivating the consumer.

I often see ‘junk tv’ and ‘junk advertising.’ These are the result of laziness, poor planning and lack of respect for the consumer.

The same applies for direct marketing campaigns.

Results-oriented direct marketing techniques, on the other hand, attempt to create an immediate call to action. The effectiveness of these devices is not measured by opinion polls, questionnaires, or by novice reviewers.

The effectiveness is measured by profit per order, cost per lead, response per thousand or any other quantifiable and measurable marketing objectives.

The reason direct marketers use these devices is that they help to create a communication environment that evokes a favorable response.

pch’s decision to use a $10 million sweepstakes is not made in the conference room after asking the question: ‘What do you think? Can we sucker the consumer one more time? Let’s give it another shot.’

Seriously, folks, does our urban-dwelling female, 18-34, consumer columnist with a university degree and an income in the $30K to $40K range really think that serious direct marketers sit around a table dreaming up ploys to dupe the consumer?

I think they use predictive models, regression analysis, response histories and product p&ls to figure which approach will generate 20% more profit.

After careful analysis, they will say: ‘Let’s roll out with the new offer, the one with the blue envelope and the raised `S’ ‘

Brian Cockerton




Ed. note: As noted in the column’s introduction, Someone Out There reflects a consumer’s reaction to marketing methods.

Customer `fed up’

I’m fed up with poor customer service.

It is time for retailers to wake up to the fact that people who are spending their hard-earned money in their store expect to be treated reasonably well.

Is it too much to ask for good customer service in exchange for repeat business?

I recently had an experience that left me furious at my inability to do anything but take my business elsewhere at a paint and wallpaper store in Mississauga, Ont.

Over a period of three months, I made a 50-kilometre round trip to spend hundreds of dollars at this store, since I was decorating my first home.

Liking the merchandise in this particular store, I also referred and recommended it to at least 10 other people. However, my customer loyalty was not rewarded in kind.

When I tried to exchange $36 worth of new, unopened paper goods, the manager told me returns after 30 days were against policy.

No mention of this policy had been made when I purchased the goods – and I had specifically inquired about it. Furthermore, no 30-day policy statement was written anywhere on the receipt.

The manager told me that she found it ‘hard to believe’ that her staff hadn’t told me anything about their policy since they ‘always’ tell customers at ‘every’ sale. Since they never make mistakes, she implied I must be lying.

To add insult to injury, she informed me that she could live with the fact that I would no longer be a customer of the store since they do a ‘good business’ already and have lots of other customers.

Greater than my annoyance at not being able to exchange a little wallpaper is my shock at the fact that the staff refused to treat me like a valued customer after taking my money for months.

I hope retailers read this letter and think twice about how their customers are being served. I, and others like me, will shop at your competition if we are treated rudely and unkindly.

Kathryn Kennedy

Oakville, Ont.