Oh, shit, we’re succeeding!

Apparently, success breeds the desire to stop the success
these days. Earlier this week, JetBlue announced it would be discontinuing its
“All You Can Jet” sales
as a result of a high demand. The company decided that
in selling additional passes, it might make it difficult for people to get
seats, so they put out the fire on the hottest promotion in air travel. The
underlying idea, of course, is that it was costing the company money because
every seat you have to give away after the pass has paid for itself is one
fewer seat that you can’t sell. And, since seats are a finite resource on
planes, despite the airline industry’s best efforts, well… You get the idea.

The “Cash for Clunkers” program has also met a similar fate,
with the government announcing the plan would end on Monday after dealers
reported that the plan had exceeded their wildest expectations.Dealers had
also been grousing
that they hadn’t been paid by the government for the $4,500
outlays they’d made on about 80 percent of the cars. (A company pissed off
because IT has to wait for a rebate… The irony is so thick, it’s
delicious.)I have no idea how
dealers weren’t ready for this as a) no one was buying anything until this
program came along, b)they’re always on the air wearing anything short of a
clown suit, screaming about how people need to rush out and buy their crap
c) with the cost of gas still sitting in the $2.60 range, people would likely
be happy to trade in a guzzler for something better. (The first car I drove as
my own was Dad’s 1979 Ford Thunderbird, which got gallons per mile instead of
miles per gallon. When the Gulf War jacked the gas up to $1.80 a gallon, I
nearly died.)

Here’s a news flash for corporate America: People like
cheap/free shit. It’s why people lined up around the block in 1987 fora free
George Webb’s hamburger
when the Brewers won 12 games in a row and the Webb’s
finally had to pay out on it’s “free burger if they win 12 in a row” promotion.
It’s why people go to all sorts of conventions and come home with shopping bags
full of pens that barely write, blocks of Post-It notes, foam-rubber stress
balls and other worthless garbage. It’s why you had standing-room onlyat Stub
and Herb’s for 70-cent beer night last month in Minneapolis
. (If we had to play
full price, you’d better believe none of us would have been ordering Grain Belt

Thus, if you plan to offer a promotion that is pretty much a
giveaway of any sort, get used to the idea that people will gluttonously
consume your product. Gear up and get ready for it. You also need to not whine
so damned much when people actually do take advantage of it. I was in the store
a few months ago and found a sale on something I use a ton of. I had a place to
store the extra, so I filled my cart with the stuff. The sign noted “No limit”
so I figured I was good. When I got to the cashier, she gave me this look like
I was stealing stuff. “That’s a REALLY good deal, you know…” she said, with
that sense that she wanted to say “Maybe you should let OTHER people get some too…”
Uh… No… I wanted it, I’m paying for it, you set the rules, I’m abiding by them.
This isn’t like insurance fraud or something. If you didn’t want me to have the
stuff, don’t sell it. Otherwise, shut up, ring me up and let me get another

When we are put in a position of having to buy something at
the ascribed price because we need it (think gasoline), we have no recourse.
They set the price and we have to cope or we don’t get the stuff. In the minds
of those with the business, it’s fair. Why is it that when the tables are
turned through their own miscalculations, we are viewed as being the bad guys?
Is it that we don’t have a bogeyman like OPEC behind us that we can blame for
our actions? Or is it that people who are usually in control just don’t like
being depantsed?

I didn’t have a clunker for cash or a need to fly all over
the world for $600, but you’d better believe that if someone offers something I
want at a ridiculously low price, I’m going to be all over it. It’s the
American way.

7 thoughts on “Oh, shit, we’re succeeding!

  1. Another example is the KFC meal with the Oprah promotion. Yet another is the Denny’s free meal – can’t remember the occasion on that one.
    You’re on the money.

  2. Church attendance picks up on Palm Sunday when you get a free palm frond (I kid you not).
    As for why the people are bad when you take up a company on their advertised deal, you’ve got to remember the corporate mantra: What’s good for a business bottom line is good. What’s bad for the bottom line is bad. When people allow themselves to be manipulated it is good. When people aren’t manipulated, that is bad.

  3. Hey – there ain’t nothin’ wrong with Grain Belt – It’s now made by the fine folks at the Schell’s brewery in New Ulm, MN. A micro-brewer since 1861.

  4. I don’t exactly understand (except for the “gimme my free shit” thought) why anyone should be surprised that Cash for Clunkers is being ended after being expanded once in response to demand. It was a way of getting some old cars off the road and shoveling a few billion dollars into the pockets of car makers and dealers. Seems reasonable to me that congress, rather than dealers and potential buyers, should decide just how much tax money gets shoveled into a small set of private hands.

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