Monday, August 13, 2007

It takes a Giant to make life simple...

The complexity of pricing schemes seem to increase daily with the advent of technology. As companies are better able to track your purchases, they are able to develop programs and promotions that would have been impossible to manage in the past.

Giant Eagle, who has used it's Advantage Card program to launch a regional juggernaut of Get Go gas station/convenience store through it's "Fuel Perks" program, which in turn launched them into the gift card business is a great example of this. (If your outside the area that the Giant Eagle flies in, Fuel Perks essentially refund 1-2% of your grocery purchases back to you in gasoline depending upon the size of your personal vehicles gas tank.)

I was the victim of a promotion gone wrong on Saturday. The requirement was to buy $25 of various products, primarily General Mills cereals. In return, you would receive a $10 coupon, printed at the register for your next Get Go purchase. I have 3 kids, eating $25 in cereal is maybe a 60 day proposition, so this made sense.

The coupon did not print at the register, which triggered a 30 minute odyssey to get my $10. First stop, the customer service desk. Second stop, the chief cashiers desk. Third stop, lane 16, where we twice tried to ring up the promotion to receive the coupon. It turns out that they did not have another way to produce the coupon, so the next step was a debate about how to give me $10. Should I get a refund? a Giant Eagle gift card? a Get Go Gift Card?

Finally they decided to give me a $10 refund, because it required the least amount of paper work on their end, but led to my 4th stop, a repeat visit to the customer service desk, and after 30 minutes I was out the door $10 less poor.

To their credit the staff at the Edgewood Towne Centre Giant Eagle was very friendly and did nothing but try to give me my $10, and found a solution even when they could not create the original coupon. They did, however, prove that complex promotions like this are virtually impossible to manage when the IT doesn't work as planned.

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