Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Survey Says

I recently noticed something, which doesn’t mean it’s new. It only means my sixty-something self has “awakened” to the fact that, at least in my area, the majority of fast- and faster-food restaurant and grocery receipts (check the back or the bottom) contain either a coupon for something free during your next visit--from them, or perhaps another merchant--or implore you to visit a website within 48 hours to fill out a survey about their service, which will enter you into a drawing to win some fabulous prize.

The problem is, I usually don’t notice these freebies and opportunities until they’re expired. I just missed a free hamburger from Burger King (where, gosh darn it, I can have it MY way!) because I didn’t read the fine print soon enough. However, my husband, who sniffs out coupons, receives calls from relatives asking if he has an extra haircut coupon, which he finds on the back of grocery receipts.

A waitress recently pointed out to me that my bill contained an offer for a free breakfast during my next visit. “Make sure you keep this copy of your bill when you check out,” she said, "and watch the expiration date." Sure enough, with the purchase of my next breakfast and a beverage (iced tea, in case you’re wondering), my friend got her breakfast for free because we used my coupon. Aside from the cost of her coffee, it didn’t cost me an extra cent to entertain. And guess what else? Although the waitress (not my usual that time) didn’t mention it, I got another coupon for a free breakfast, even though I’d only paid for one to begin with! Which made me wonder: how many of these have I missed? Honestly, the offer is presented in regular print at the bottom of the front of the receipt, but who reads that?

Microsoft (yes, that Microsoft), who cares about my potential (see new trademarked slogan here) sent me four—FOUR—follow-up e-mails inquiring about my satisfaction with their recent tech support. After several HOURS of dinking with my computer—even allowing them to “take it over” to work on the problem--my issue was not resolved, but they genuinely seemed to care by letting me know they were archiving my case, should I desire to reopen it some time in the future.

This entire "we care and want your business" phenomena gets me to thinking how wonderful it would be if the airlines, including our seatmates, handed out coupons and/or survey opportunities.

Or would it?

Phone this number to let us know if you arrived on time, and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a free snack pack.

Bring this coupon to the gate for your next flight, and WE will attach your gate-check bag tag. During a recent flight, we were handed our gate-check tags and the guy behind me said, after he sighed, “Remember when they used to put them on?”

Turn this into your flight attendant when you deplane. IMAGINE if we, the passengers, had to undergo evaluation sheets filled out by our seatmates! Or better yet, IMAGINE getting to fill one out in front of your LOUD seat companion, who would learn—because she’s watching your every move—that during her next trip, she’ll have to sit in the time-out chair across from the lavatory.

How’d you like my landing? Phone 1-800-get-down to use our automated system.

Did you truly find our skies ‘friendly’?

We’re sorry your flight was delayed. Please accept this coupon as our token of apology. It’s good for one free cab ride to your next transatlantic destination. See how THAT goes for you, buck-o!

Because we couldn’t serve our beverage cart today, this coupon is good for one free flight.* You could hardly believe your eyes when, right after touch-down, the flight attendant handed you this generous gift! Until . . . you noticed the fine print on the date/time-stamped coupon, and that teensy qualifying asterisk. *Coupon expires two minutes after presentation, and must be presented to gate agent in Oklahoma.

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