Saturday, March 29, 2008

Discover Card and an Old Marketing Trick

Ever been to a hotel and have your reservation messed up? The clerk comes out and quickly corrects the problem, maybe even upgrading your room in the process? What do you think about the service? What do you think about the hotel? My guess is you will be happy; they made a mistake and they fixed it giving you a better room to boot, what nice people.

What if you went to the same hotel and they hadn't made a mistake? What if 100 people went to the same hotel, fifty of them get the rooms they expected while fifty of them are "upgraded" after an honest mistake is made. Turns out the people who suffered through the mistake will tend to rate the hotel better than the people who had no problems. They suffered through a minor inconvenience, got a room and saw the hotel manager go out of their way for them.

Well, it can be a scam. If people really do rate their experiences better after a mistake is made and fixed. Why shouldn't the hotel make mistakes on purpose? You get the room you were always going to get, the upgrade is a scam, and the mistake was just for show.

It appears Discover card is doing this trick. On March 12th I received a notice from Discover Card. I have a card but haven't used it in about five years. In fact, I had just shredded it a few days before I got the letter. The letter informed me that they made a mistake. It turns out I made a purchase in January where I was qualified for a 1.5% APR but I was not given that rate, instead I was charged a much higher rate.

Thats great news! It turns out Discover Card is pro-actively going through my account to look for errors in their billing. However, I haven't made any purchases. When I do make purchases I always pay at the end of the month so the APR doesn't matter anyway. Thank you Discover Card for finding your error, except it appears that you have created a new error. You are discovering transactions which didn't happen! Were your computers broken in January, or are they broken now? Or are you lying to me?

Discover Card apologizes in the last paragraph for any inconvenience that might have been caused. I feel better; I must try to love my Discover Card; I must remember to use it next time. Alas, I already shredded it.

1 comment:

A Fuss said...

Nice! Better check my Discover Card too:) Did you see my story about Comcast?