Using E-Mail to Train Customers to Be Unprofitable

So I ordered a bunch of trousers from EddieBauer.com (because every women’s store on the planet has a ‘petite’ section, but it’s a law of the universe that ‘tall’ is online only). Before the order arrives, I start getting e-mail about the EddieBauer.com summer sale. So I click. Most of the stuff I’ve ordered (which was already on sale) is now more on sale.

I call before even receiving the package (because the online form is broken). They cheerfully refund the price differential – about $30. And I mean cheerfully (“Honey, that’s what e-mail is for!”).

But wait — it gets better.

One pair of pants fits so well, I order three more pairs. Then I receive another e-mail touting deeper discounts. Sure enough, new trousers qualify for a $50-plus credit. And because some of the stuff in the first order is now even further reduced, I get another $24 refunded…in addition to the $30 they refunded in Round One.

Over $100 refunded on merchandise I’d demonstrated I was willing to pay full price for!

I’m not only loyal now to EddieBauer.com now, I’m opening their e-mail.

But am I a profitable customer? Not yet, anyway. Jack Aaronson’s recent series of columns on loyalty programs really got me thinking about just this sort of thing.

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