Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loyalty can be bought - has yours?

There's a few reasons why I have one credit card designated solely for online shopping, but up until now having to beware of being surreptitiously signed up for some fee-charging "loyalty program" wasn't one of them. This definitely makes my "WHOA!!" list.

Read the above linked article thoroughly, and more than once if the first time doesn't make you mad enough. Then check the statements of any credit cards you've used online - thoroughly. If you find you've been getting charged for "loyalty" you didn't definitively declare, I'd suggest you make some "customer noise" with the volume cranked up to max. Yeah, buyer beware, caveat emptor, RTFP (that's my acronym for Read The Fine Print, before anyone thinks I got it wrong), and all that, but even in the grey area of letting people hang themselves with their own rope there's a difference between someone sticking their head in a noose that's more or less visible, and a noose that gets slipped over a person's head while a sleazy advertiser distracts them by hollering "HEY LOOK, OVER THERE - CASH BACK AND A COUPON!!".

For myself, I've never made a purchase via either directly or through an ad on their website, but I'm nixing my account there ASAP. I check it only once in a blue moon, and any true classmates of mine who haven't already found me via other (and better) channels are probably people I don't care to hook back up with anyway.

Yes, it's a jungle out there. That still doesn't give supposedly legitimate online businesses (or their affiliates) a free pass to act like starving jackals.

p.s. Techcrunch has a got plenty of scoop here. Many of the comments are as enlightening as the article itself, so settle back with a favorite beverage if you have time for a bit of reading.

Oh, and have some aspirin handy.

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