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    Shrinkflation Redux

    August 25th, 2023

    When times get tough there is always much coverage of the interesting concept of shrinkflation – where consumers get less for the same price. This can take many forms, such as fewer ounces in a similar size box or a lower count of items – all without changing the price. They count on the consumer not noticing, often with great effect.

    But there is another type of shrinkflation that has been slowly seeping into the veins and that is the shrinkflation of benefits of rewards programs. These, often small, changes slowly erode the value proposition to the consumer through sneaky tactics like increasing ‘breakage’ – or the chance a consumer fails to qualify/earn rewards.

    There are many examples of this, but Starbucks is perhaps the most egregious. It has been a multi-step, multi-year process which is slowly eroded away value from their starts program.

    Example 1: Several years ago, you used to be able to redeem your birthday drink perk anytime in your birthday month. Then they changed it to the week of your birthday. And now it is only available literally on your birthday- no grace period.

    Example 2: Over the same time Starbucks has increased the cost, and therefore decreased the value of the Stars, reward points, which you earn through spending. They didn’t adjust historical balances, so hard-earned points simply changed value overnight.

    Example 3: Star expiration is another small feature that was added – 1 year from the date you earned them. The only reason to do this is to pull more value away from a consumer who might be saving up. The whole point is to encourage frequent visits and spending and to eliminate anything ‘owed’ to lower-value or less frequent customers.

    Example 4: There used to be other ways to earn Stars – codes on retail bags of coffee. This was from when they first started selling beans at non-Starbucks stores. They’ve phased those out and now at-home stars are a thing of the past.

    Example 5: They now offer Double star days – or even triple! However, these used to be automatic for anybody who visited. They have now changed it so that you have to opt in or else you don’t get the benefit. It’s about as pure of a “how can we get less consumers to redeem” play as you can get.

    Example 6: Starbucks runs sweepstakes and games where they give away things (usually Stars) for playing. Typically, you earn plays via purchases, but you can also (by law) register without a purchase. Starbucks has slowly made these entries harder as well – going from requiring a simple entry form, to requiring answers to a multiple-choice question, to having several questions, to – most recently – requiring you to watch a 30-second Starbucks ad. 

    Update: November 2023 – The Starbucks for Life game is back, and they have now increased the required video view length to 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Additionally the questions went from multiple choice to open ended, such as “What does the ethical sourcing stamp mean?”. Check back next year for how else they are building walls.

    I’m sure there are other’s I’m missing – the list of ways to take advantage of loyalty is nearly endless.

    But this is not just a move that has been happening for large corporate brands. Unfortunately, it has also started infecting smaller businesses but that’s a post for a different time.

    Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that none of these businesses must have a loyalty program. However, the decision to be loyal to a program or a store is at least partially dependent on the value that store brings to me as a consumer. And the changing of the value of those rewards, slowly reducing their value, is a particularly insidious move by the company.

    I believe this hit particularly hard because, unlike typical ‘shrinkflation’ items where I can just buy a different brand, loyalty points have no such fungibility. The points are captive, with little recourse for me as an individual.

    I can take business elsewhere in the future, which I do, but that the earned value is eroded is completely out of my control. And this change, this decrease of consumer value without consumer consent, is an unfortunate development to witness.

    So, I encourage you to realize that while loyalty can pay, it might pay less than you think. Or even less than what was promised.

    This has been another Thought From the Cake Scraps



    Okay Burger King, Now I’m Upset

    May 19th, 2010

    FireFightingNews.com

    Curse you Burger King! We had something so special together!  I had become more than a customer, more than a brand loyal, I was a brand ambassador.  I actively told people about how great you were and now you have betrayed me.  That makes me quite mad.

    I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was traveling and I was hungry and in a rush.  I was passing through the Milwaukee airport.  I just needed a little something to keep me going and I was not in the financial position to shell out $12 for a chicken wrap and a soda.  I quickly located the fast food options.  It wasn’t time for Cinnabon, so Burger King it was.  I looked over the (overpriced) menu to see what I wanted.  Being an airport location the menu was quite sparse with very little detail.  I decided on a double cheeseburger, not the deluxe one shown on the menu.  I didn’t see any signage for a meal combination and sometimes airport locations have limited options, but I wanted the soda so I asked the server, who waited patiently while I surveyed the menu, if I could get the double cheeseburger in a meal.  He looked at me and said, without missing a beat, “Sir, this is Burger King.  You can have it your way.”  And that was my introduction to Burger King as a brand.

    To put it plainly it was awesome.  I just thought to myself, “that is amazing how he did that without missing a beat.”  Skip forward a few years and McDonalds $1 double cheeseburger enters the picture.  Delicious!  What a deal!  The $1 burger got me in the door and I loved it!  Then McDonalds made 2 critical miss-steps with me.  The first was the Monopoly game (I will link to this in the future when I write on it).  The second was the switch to the McDouble.  I hated them for it, but at least I could understand given the tough economic times that were upon us.  Plus, it had been on the dollar menu for quite some time.

    Then, on October 19, 2009 Burger King burst on the scene with the $1 double cheeseburger.  I was still slightly loyal to McDonalds at that point.  Mostly because there is one on almost every highway exit but also because they still had a $1 option.  But, the aggressive advertising by Burger King during the football season got me to stop during one of my many trips.  Everything the commercials had promised was true.  It was bigger, it tasted better, it had 2 slices of cheese, and – best of all – it really was $1.  It was at this point I became an brand ambassador.

    Every time fast food was brought up I would chime in with my opinion on BK.  I also told people about how the $1 burger at BK really was better than the $1 McDouble at McDonalds.  While driving I would actually wait to eat so that I could eat at a Burger King rather than a McDonalds.  In fact, not only would I wait to go there, but I would then buy items that I knew they had killer margin on.  I loved the value and I wanted to support them.  All of this love, and then they stabbed me in the back.

    Well, to be fair it was National Franchisee Association (represents 80% of the Burger King locations).  They claimed they could not make enough profit the burger.  They demanded it be changed and, due to the heavy pressure, Burger King complied.  This change happened on April 26.  They had the $1 double cheese burger, spent tens of millions advertising, for 189 days, or about 6 months.  Wow.

    I understand that a company has to make money, but this is just wrong of the National Franchisee Association.  Why not just change the double cheese burger to have 1 slice of cheese and then make a “cheesy double” that has the 2 slices of cheese?  The change intentionally confuses customers.  I still feel dumb every time I have to order a “McDouble”.  It just sounds silly.  And the BK Dollar Double is just as bad.  Plus, now if you ever have to raise the prices, you have to change the name!  So the move by the NFA not only burned tens of millions of dollars spent on advertising, they are now spending millions more on advertising the BK Dollar Double, they created confusion among customers, and forced a move to a menu item that cannot have its price changed.  How stupid and short sighted can you be?

    In addition to confused customers, think of the lost productivity – a critical issue during peak hours.  Whenever somebody orders a double cheeseburger it must be clarified if that person really wants a $1 or the more expensive one.  They then might ask what the difference is and this takes even more time.  The alternative is to just take what the person orders at face value and deal with angry customers who thought they were getting the $1 item.  In a business where efficiency is measured in seconds or less, all of these small issues add up.

    I am not happy with you Burger King and I think I will check out Taco Bell the next time I hit the road.

    Do you think this whole thing feels like a bait and switch?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Homelessness Is A Choice

    February 10th, 2010

    That is quite a bold statement and one that would likely stir up much debate on its own, but I am going to do this with a twist.  I am going to use the homeless as an example of people making a very hard choice for the good.

    Background: I was reading a post on an occupational field that most of us would rather not find ourselves in.  The author was clearly biased and talked at length about how bad of a job it was, how dangerous it was, and how tough it was on a person both physically and mentally.  I didn’t find their arguments all that compelling and commented on the post and told them why.  My basic problem was the author was presenting this occupation as a last resort.  That the workers had to do things that were outside their contractual obligations.  They had to do it without saying anything or they wouldn’t get paid.  These sorts of things – and yes this was a legal occupation in the USA.

    Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have already said that many people would not want to do this job.  But to say that these workers didn’t have a choice…well, I just thought that was dehumanizing in a very substantial way.  They were not forced to work.  They had clear legal recourse if the employer violated the terms of the contract.  They had a choice and the ability to choose what we want to do is a very important part of life.

    Current Topic: Which brings us to why homelessness is a choice.  As I was tossing around the above case in my mind, poking it to see what holes I could make in my own argument, I came to this odd realization.  These workers could have chosen not to work, even if they had a family.  They could have chosen homelessness.  Now, this is where most would stop.  We can debate other contributing factors to homelessness, but I would rather skip debate on that point in favor of more dialogue on my next.  The homeless choose not to do more wrongs simply to escape.

    Think about that for a second.  These are people that may not know where their next meal will come from, when it will come, or if they will even make it to the next meal.  Just think of the terrible weather in Washington D.C. right now.  They may not even have a place to sleep.  It’s tragic.  (Which on a side note is why I’m very happy with the effort my company, Lands’ End, made this past season with the Big Warm Up).  And yet they are still on the street rather than in a job they hate.  They are not committing blatant acts of lawlessness so they can be arrested and have a place to stay and food on their plate.

    So in a very odd way, I am holding them up as a beacon for people that truly hate their jobs.  As I have alluded to in this post, there are many, many other debates that could be had around this topic but I just thought the conclusion that I came to was so peculiar, in a fascinating-thought-experiment sort of way, that I had to share.  I suppose I could have used an argument about the days of yore when honor was king, and death before dishonor, and all that.  This just seemed more interesting.

    What do you think?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Work The System; Don’t Be A Jerk

    January 26th, 2010

    I love to get a good deal. There are few things more pleasing than knowing that you were able to negotiate to a place where both you and the seller were comfortable with the agreement.  And despite what some may have you believe, a company really does want you as a customer; this is the case now more than ever.  So take your business elsewhere is you are unhappy, try and be reasonable, try to get a great deal if you can.  But don’t be a jerk about it.

    I recently had an experience with an online retailer that I have recently taken quite a liking to.  Martin & Osa is part of the American Eagle company.  You know kind of like Abercrombie and Hollister or Gap and Banana Republic (Old Navy too!).

    Anyway, they have a really great site that I like quite a bit.  It is easy to navigate and includes many great subtleties that  I won’t go into here but that I appreciate as a web analyst and novice usability analyst.  The other thing I like is that they have free shipping on orders over $100, they include clearance items in there % 0ff promotions, and they have free returns (you may have had to purchase over $100 to get that, I’m not sure).

    On New Year’s Day they ran a 20% off and Free Shipping (no min) promotion.  Like I said I really like some of their stuff so I loaded up on around $100 worth of stuff.  It arrived a few days ago and literally the same day then ran a 30% off promotion.  I checked online and they were still in stock of each item that I ordered.  I kind of felt ripped off.  Sure I was happy with the 20% off but then to contact me again with 30% off within a week.  On the same stuff?  It just rubbed me the wrong way.

    So I placed another order with them with the exact same items in the order and a few extra that I decided I could get with 30% off.  The plan was to just return all of the other stuff I purchased since I was getting the same stuff but with an extra 10% off.  But, being in the e-commerce business I know how much returns cost and shipping.  So I didn’t want to be a jerk and take advantage of their policies.

    I called up their 24 hour number (excellent job M&O!) and asked if I could just get the credit on the stuff I bought earlier and then cancel the whole new order.  Sadly, they cannot price match to a promotional price.  This probably makes sense in most cases because people wear the stuff they purchased (and take off tags) so they can’t return it anyway.  Since I just got my stuff I could still return it.  I was also a little sad (but understood) why they could not price match my full price shirt I bought at retail (and linked to my online acct. via email) that was just send to clearance for a $30 price reduction.  They could match it in store, but not over the phone.  Oh well.

    What I must say is that during this whole experience I valued his honesty.  He flat out told me to return the other stuff and keep the new order.  He answered each question without hesitation and was very clear in his answers.  Way to go Christian!  You did a great job.

    So the moral of the story is always try and get a good deal (like getting 30% off instead of 20%) but also be reasonable.  It didn’t work this time, but sometimes all you have to do is ask.  Oh and by the way, my second order was actually twice the size of my first order with 30% instead of 20% so I don’t think M&O did too badly in the whole thing.

    Do you love to get a great deal?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Lands End Canvas

    November 12th, 2009

    Branding.  It is a very interesting thing; it is what the people associate with a product.  This seems simple enough, but all in all, it is a very odd concept.  The legal system allows for one to sue for defamation, so one would assume that this means that somebody must own the reputation.  But can you really own a reputation?

    I mean, reputation is just a collection of other people’s thoughts about you.  Can you really own that?  Then you are asserting you own other people’s opinion.  It is all very odd.  But it is all very important.

    That is why today is a very special day for Lands End, my employer.  Today was the official launch day of the new brand called Lands End Canvas.  It has some very interesting clothing coming from Lands End.  I think that this is a great step for Lands’ End.  It speaks to our vision for the future and a new avenue to reach our customers.

    I wish LE Canvas the best of luck.  Obviously I will not be able to give any updates on it here, but keep your ears and eyes open and you just may come across it.  I have already got my order and will be sure to share my thoughts on it with you.  But no matter how it turns out, it is an exciting next step for LE.

    What do you think of the LE Canvas site?  And check out the My Canvas section when it’s live!


    Did You Leave The Open Flag Up?

    May 28th, 2009

    openflag

    I enjoy a drive through the countryside every now and then.  There is something that is just relaxing about it.  You just get to cruise along, maybe have the windows down and the music up.  If you are lucky then you have a few hills and turns to keep things exciting.  And if you are in the right spot, at the right time of year, you may even stumble across a home selling whatever happens to be in season.

    Often times these places have handmade signs listing what is being sold and what price it is being sold at.  Perhaps there is also some obnoxious arrow pointing you up the driveway.  And if they really have it together, they may have a flag waving in the wind with the word “OPEN” on it.  That will really get people to stop in…or will it?

    When I see an “OPEN” flag I cannot help but wonder if the place is actually open.  Do they really take it down each day?  What about when I drive by after suppertime and the flag is still displayed?  Should I assume that they are still open for business?  It seems like a good idea to have the flag, but I’m just not sure how genuine most people think it is.  Oddly enough, I think that a cardboard sign will actually help because I know that can’t be left out very long before it falls apart.

    Another idea would be a light.  If I see that there is a light on the flag or sign, then I am more likely to believe that it is in fact open.  All of this is interesting, but it paves the way for a broader issue: credibility.

    A home shop with a cardboard sign or “OPEN” flag has plenty of credibility.  A light that is turned on and off has credibility.  The problem is the open flag always looks the same.  It is always there.  Nothing is ever different.  The owners are not considering what leaving the flag up might do.

    In the current business environment, this is a critical issue.  How credible are your promotions (because everybody is running them)?  Are you running the same thing over and over?  This will work just fine for a short amount of time, but make sure that you have an exit plan.  Even if you take pause for just a week you rebuild credibility.  You rebuild a scarcity factor.

    If the “OPEN” flag isn’t always up, then I know that I had better stop in when it is up because otherwise I may miss my chance.  There is no urgency if there is always a sale.  I can’t stress this enough: Small things, the ‘scraps’ as I like to call them, matter.  Leaving the flag out and the promotions running may be the easy path, but sometimes it pays to take the path less traveled.

    Do you believe “OPEN” flags?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Fortune Fails

    April 14th, 2009

    warren_buffett_fortune_magazineRecently I got quite the offer from Fortune Magazine on a 3 year subscription.  I have always thought about getting a subscription but it always seemed just a bit to expensive for me.  If you know me you know I take my money very seriously.  So after much consideration (mostly in the form of having the offer sit on my desk for a few weeks) I decided to go ahead and send in the form.

    At this point I would like to admit that I am a credit-card-aholic.  I hate to use cash and never use a check – at least when it can be avoided.  Its not that I rack up the debt, it’s more that I just prefer it as a form of payment.  I like the perks that it offers.  I like the convenience of it.  I like being able to review my transactions BEFORE the money is taken out of my account.  And that’s my beef with debit cards.  I can contest a credit card charge before the money ever leaves my holdings.  I have to get the money back if there is an error and I used a debit card.

    With that background in mind, I move on to my issue with Fortune.  On the slip they provided, an option was to be billed later (and probably use my own stamp), send a check, or fill in my credit card info.  I did the credit card info.  It was just the easiest and quickest way to pay.  I slipped it into the provided return envelope (postage paid by them), licked it shut, and was all ready to send it off when I noticed something odd.  I could basically see right through the paper and read my credit card number.

    This didn’t take some special light, or even holding it up to the light.  Literally all I had to do was set it on my desk and press down on the envelope and I could see, plain as day, my credit card number.  Hmm….seems a bit odd.  So I didn’t send it and instead put in an inquiry to Fortune Customer Service – to verify that the offer was in fact real – and said the following:

    Comments : Hello – I got an offer in the mail for Fortune that advertises a corporate rate of x yrs. for $xx. The listed address is PO BOX 61xxx Tampa FL 33xxx-1xxx I have filled out the form, but before I send it off, I wanted to see if the offer was real. Main reason I question it is that you can see right through the envelope. Odd for an offer that asks for payment info to have a return envelope that is easily seen through.
    Thanks,
    David

    It took them nearly the full 2 business days they quote to get back to me and they said:

    Thank you for contacting FORTUNE Customer Service.
    Yes, the offer is a legitimate offer from FORTUNE magazine.  Any further questions, please let us know.

    We appreciate this opportunity to be of service.

    And then they had a bunch of links to useless info at the bottom.  Does this strike anybody as an odd response?

    Here I am, a potential customer.  I was suspicious about the offer but I didn’t discard it.  I went through the trouble of making sure it was real.  But more importantly I let them know why I was concerned and they didn’t even address the issue.  And they certainly didn’t thank me for bringing it to their attention.

    Keep in mind that this is Fortune magazine.  One would think they would be savvy about the real danger of identity theft.  And yet, they seem to have no problem giving you return envelopes requesting payment information that can easily be seen through.

    This is the sort of stuff I just don’t get.  How can they totally ignore the issue in their response?  I know there is just a small chance of anything actually going wrong but in the days where it is not difficult to hear about one story after another about a stolen identity, one would think a magazine of Fortune’s reputation would do what they can to protect the people they are prospecting to.  I don’t want to make a big issue out of nothing, but I can’t help but feel that being able to see my credit card number and expiration date through a business reply envelope is a big deal.

    What do you think?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Slim-Fast And How Not To Design A Site

    February 6th, 2009

    When looking at a web site process, such as registration, it doesn’t take much testing to figure out that the answer is always less.

    What information should we collect?  Less.  What questions should we ask?  Less.  How many steps should there be in checkout?  Less.  Less.  Less.  You get the idea.  The reason is that each step or bit of information, or whatever is another obstacle that the visitor has to overcome to convert.  Why add things that actually prevent the visitor from taking the desired action?  Because you’re greedy.  That is the only answer.  If you do not have a guest checkout, you’re greedy.  If you force someone to put in their address when signing up for an account to access ‘premium website features’ you’re greedy.  You only need an address to ship.  Don’t be greedy.

    I was looking over a Slim-Fast package and saw this box that lets you “customize your weight loss journey”.  It sounded interesting.  I’m not overly concerned about my current weight, but was curious anyway so when I had a chance I decided to check out the site.

    This custom weight loss plan is on the homepage.  Like dead center on the homepage.  You can’t really miss the red “Register Now” button.

    The Slim-Fast Homepage

    The Slim-Fast Homepage

    At this point, for me personally, I was already a bit hesitant.  I’m thinking to myself, why are they calling it “register” and not “Get Your Plan Now” or at least something that doesn’t sound as impersonal as “register now”.

    Anyway, because I was interested I click through anyway.  Point them.  But look at the ridiculous amount of information (click to enlarge) they demand from the visitor (in this case me):

    Register And Join Our Community

    So here I am, all interested is seeing what Slim-Fast can do for me and this is what they give me.  It is about the worst possible experience I could imagine.  But, I pressed on.  I really wanted to see what this “customized plan” was going to be.  So, like any person who has no interest in giving out tons of information for no reason, I filled in the stuff with a bunch of junk info.

    Boy did they get me.  After I took the time to fill the whole long form out (albeit with bad info) they don’t even give me the plan.  They e-mail it to me.  Well, I didn’t put in an actual e-mail address so it when to some random person.  At that point I just lost interest.  I could not go on.

    So with all of this in mind, what was Slim-Fast looking to gain with all of that information?  Would they mail me crap I didn’t want?  Just e-mail me the coupon.  What could they possible need all that information for?  Invasive marketing was my only thought and that is why I gave them bad information.  I don’t want to be invaded upon any more than I can help.  But the bigger miss here is what they lost.

    Sure, they lost my interest but they lost something much more than that.  They lost my money.  Imagine, here is a customer all set to lose weight.  They not only want to lose weight, they want to lose it with Slim-Fast.  And beyond that, they not only want to lose it with Slim-Fast, but they want a diet plan from Slim-Fast that will – in all likelihood – contain a fair amount of Slim-Fast product.  From snack bars to meal bars to shake powder to a shake-in-a-can.  And then different flavors of all of those things.  This was a free pass for Slim-Fast to sell a lot of product to a customer that wanted to be sold to.

    Instead of taking this easy money, instead of helping me toward my personal weight loss goal – and using Slim-Fast to do it, which I would certainly tell my friends about -, instead of any of that they got a visitor that was just pissed at them.  I wrote them a letter telling them how bad of a site they had and pointed out the huge opportunity they were missing out on.  After several weeks I have not got a response.  This is not how you build your brand.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Give information about your product freely.  Get a customer to engage with your product for free.  If you are a quality product they will be more than happy to give you the rest.

    In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to quote the late founder of Lands’ End – Gary Comer (who was a billionaire – so yes, it works):

    Take care of the customer.  Take care of the employees.  The rest will take care of itself.

    Do you agree?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    IGN Insider FAIL

    December 17th, 2008

    I said I was going to post about this, and true to my word, I will.

    While viewing my credit card statement online I noticed a charge from IGN Insider (no link as a disservice to them) – a service I had signed up for last year to get some info.  Silly me.  Anyway, I did not want to pay for it again.  All the info is out on the internet and is FREE.  Just look for it.  As a side note, that is why I forget that I even had this account.

    Needless to say they were not helpful at all.  In fact, the ‘customer service’ provided very little of that.  Here is a company that just doesn’t get it.  Instead of just giving me back my $20 and sending me on my way they just hid behind their Terms of Service and basically told me to shove off.  Being polite the entire time – normally good but just aggravating when they have no intention of helping you.

    You can find the whole dialogue below.  Each paragraph is a different speaker.  Paragraph breaks in the actual communication have been removed to conserve space.  Let me know what you think.

    Me: I have canceled my account with IGN. It was just charged to my card. There was no e-mail receipt, there was no notification that the payment was coming due. Nothing. I am outraged that IGN, who clearly has a means to contact me, would just charge my card without any verification. That is just poor. Please remove the charge from my account. As it has only been days since the charge there is no reason that this would be a problem. Regards, David

    Them: Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your subscription account. I am sorry for any delays responding to your support request. We do see you have already turned off your auto billing (cancelled) your subscription.It will remain open until the end date described on your cancellation confirmation email. A renewal email was sent to this email address on 11/27/2008. Sorry you missed this email. All of our subscriptions renew automatically, We offer it in our Terms of Service twice during the subscription process and you agree to it while subscribing. http://corp.ign.com/user-agreement.html We appreciate your email however we do not issue refunds for subscription services except in the case of demonstrated fraud.  Kind Regards, Julie

    Me: I think it is sad that instead of providing customer service you cower behind a ToS. In a world where each individual now has a voice via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media you would think customer service would be paramount for a company like yours. Instead you are content to take your $20 – nothing but a drop in the bucket for you – and let me share my poor experience with the entire internet community. It no longer takes a newspaper to pick up a story, but an individual. Your response, while I’m sure technically correct, completely misses the mark of providing customer service. Given my experience with what you term ‘customer service’ I am sure this will fall on deaf ears to you, but perhaps not to the many that will read of my poor experience. I strongly believe that you are making a poor choice for your company, but at least you have $20 more in the bank. So shortsighted. Also, per your statement that an e-mail was sent, I did not get anything. I checked both my inbox and my spam folder – which has e-mails prior to 11/27 in it – and found nothing. Since I don’t delete anything from my inbox, I just archive it, I am more than a bit skeptical that the e-mail was sent. When I do a search for IGN in my mailbox the only communication prior to me filing this issue was the day that I originally subscribed to IGN insider. Can you verify it went out? Also, why would I not get an e-mail informing me of my payment (the day my card is charged)? Thanks, David

    Them: Hi David, We do appreciate your feedback regarding our refund policy. I can confirm that an email was sent out on 11/27/2008 to XXX@gmail.com. We apologize if you missed this email. I”GN/GameSpy Services Annual Renewal Notification It’s been a great year!We hope you’ve been enjoying the past year with us. We’re sending you this email to remind you that your annual subscription is scheduled to renew on December 11, 2008.” During the original purchase it is agreed that the subscription is auto billed. Unfortunately, we do not send out renewal invoices. A renewal notice is sent out. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Kind Regards, Julie

    So in summary they appreciate my feedback but will not do anything to show it.  They tell me that they did send the e-mail and that they are sorry that I missed the e-mail.  So let me make this clear: I don’t delete anything from that e-mail address and I rarely even check it therefore if it is not in my inbox and not in my SPAM folder (which had e-mail prior to the date they claim they sent it) then I did not get it.  Then Julie includes the text of the e-mail they claim to have sent as if it is either a) “verification” or b) “helpful” of which it is neither.  She then states AGAIN that I agreed to it in the original purchase.  I never argue this point.  All I wanted was some notification that it was happening!

    Needless to say I am not very happy with IGN or IGN Insider.  So I ask you, what are your thoughts?  Was I over the top?  Not angry enogh?  Or should I just not care?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.


    Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk Responds

    December 12th, 2008

    If you have not watched a video by Gary Vaynerchuk you are doing yourself a disservice.  The man is amazingly passionate about what he does.  I wrote about how great he was at building brand, but it really hit home today.

    This guy cares.

    I have heard him say it may times on garyvaynerchuk , at winelibrarytv, and at a few things I have watched/listened to him on ustream: “Care about your people.”  He says that he responds to every e-mail he gets.  The guy has tens of thousands of people (last I heard about 80k a day) watch his wine show.  DAILY.  The guy gets several hundred e-mails DAILY.  He can’t respond to it the same day but he does respond.

    Today I got verification.  I sent him an e-mail.  It was 10 days ago and his response could have fit inside a @TheCakeScraps on Twitter, but he did respond.  Amazing.

    This guy has personal brand equity.

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.