Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix Takes My Advice

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
"Oops, my bad! Jeff,
The Beloved Leader
was right, as usual."

I'm so glad to see that Netflix took my advice and withdrew the Einsteinian plan to spin off their DVD mail program (Qwikster). However, they still managed to keep following the Piss Off Your Customers Rule by letting stand the 100% fee increase on their customers. Way to go Netflix! Very subtle way to slip in the gouge. That's the way to keep customers: Don't improve service but charge everybody twice as much for it.

Since it evidently doesn't take anybody with great intelligence to run a multi-billion dollar company. I've gone onto the Netflix corporate site and applied for the job of CEO under "Jobs at Netflix". I think I'm more than qualified. I should be a shoe-in since the board is obviously going to be looking for another CEO soon. I hear they're whip smart. Or maybe it was just "whipped." I don't have the facts to back this up.

I also applied to for the job as CEO of Bank of America quite some time ago. But for some reason I haven't heard back from them. Dicks.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Marketing Rule: Don't Forget to Piss Off Your Customers

Somebody's gotta pay
for this BofA Tower.
And it ain't gonna
be the shareholders.

So we're all wondering what is going on at Bank of America, Netflix, and Name-on-Request Airlines. Lately it seems like big, successful companies have come across the little known marketing rule: Make sure you really piss off your customers.

Bank of America, in announcing that it's going to start charging its customers to use their debit cards to withdraw their own money from their accounts, has probably congratulated itself on finding the glaring loophole in the dreaded Dodd-Frank Act that restricts usurious bank fees on merchants who offer debit payment to their own customers. The drafters of Frank-Dodd, being the unholy hybrid of Congressional watering-down that it was, probably didn't expect the big banks to blatantly say, "Okay, well somebody's gonna pay our usurious fees and it's gonna be our own customers." I guess we customers are just supposed to get angry at Congress for forcing them to do it. Right? How could we possibly get mad at our bank? Especially the same bank who was caught (but not  yet punished) for widespread foreclosure fraud. The same bank that was bailed out with our tax money and handed Merrill Lynch as its chew toy. The same bank convicted of municipal bonds fraud in 2010. It isn't their fault. It's Congress! Write your Congressbeing and tell him/her to get off your bank's back.

But come on! Do the marketing idiot savants (minus the "savant" part) at BofA think that their customers won't just pull their deposits out and go to the hundreds of little banks and credit unions in their hometowns? I've noticed that some of those more astute little banks and credit unions are already running ads announcing that they have no intention of charging their customers to access their own money.What a concept!

It's all part of the proven marketing principle of making sure your customers storm out, really angry.

Or take Netflix's recent bonehead move to infuriate their own customers by spitting their service into two monthly bills (one for downloading movies and one for the traditional DVD-by-mail service). Did anybody there think this through? Or that they just handed struggling Blockbuster an early Christmas gift? Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that meeting where they came up with that brilliant idea? And naming their new spinoff Qwikster? Really? You mean like Napster or Friendster or one of those other Disasters? They must have spent all afternoon coming up with that stupid name.

I certainly hope Blockbuster sent them a nice thank you note (with an Amazon gift card).

This trend of pissing off your customers started with the airlines, of course, who decided a few years ago to start charging their own regular customers for things like water, pillows, and privy privileges. Suddenly, loyal business customers started looking for airlines that didn't nickel-n-dime them. And the unforeseen consequences of charging for baggage? More fights over the overhead bins in the cabin. Couldn't have seen that coming.

Of course, we know that airlines are struggling financially--what with the speculator-driven price of fuel and the costs of maintaining aging aircraft (thank you FAA!). But instead of simply burying those added costs into the ticket, which they inflated anyway, the airlines decided to add insult to injury by charging for baggage, pillows, and water. Pissing everybody off. It's bad enough that you have to pay extra to have your knees in your chin, or that you have to bring your own bag lunch on board. It's bad enough that ticket pricing is so chaotic and--dare I say it--deregulated. But to make me pay for a flattened pillow that somebody else drooled on? Brilliant. I think I'll drive to LA. At least it's cheaper. And I can bring my own pillow, thank you.

But Bank of America (and soon Wells Fargo, Chase, and the other too-big-to-bail banks) takes the cake for idiotic marketing decisions. They probably figured that nobody would notice. Also, according to BofA, because they aren't allowed to gouge merchants quite so much (thanks to that socialistic Dodd-Frank law), those same merchants will, out of the goodness of their hearts, pass their savings on and lower their own prices. They will. Just you watch.We'll see that little $5.00 fee deducted from our checking account every month and we'll think, at least I'm saving big at the retail level.

Also, I'm sure Bank of America customers are all getting letters that begin with the sincere phrase, "As a loyal Bank of America customer, you're important to us..." That ought to take care of damage control.

Besides, the debit card charge is legal. Dodd-Frank doesn't say the banks can't. This is what you get for shoddy legislation.

And what are you gonna do? Take your business to a little bank that doesn't charge you to withdraw your own money? Yeah, right! Have you seen their quaint headquarters? It doesn't even come up as high as BofA's lobby.