Customer Discounts Shouldn’t Cost You More Money

Photo of money falling out of a piggy bankI was at Union Station a few weeks ago and on my way out, I validated my parking ticket, which would have given me a dollar or two off the total charge.  As instructed by all the signage, I paid for my ticket at the automated station, then hopped into my car and exited the garage.  Later that evening, I realized that the discount had NOT been taken off the charge.  Annoyed, I called Union Station and was told that in order to get the discount, I had to pay at the ticket booth to a live person.

Okay, so this does not make any sense:  discounted parking costs Union Station more money because a real person is needed to process the transaction. (Besides that, it’s just not right to advertise a discount and then not tell consumers how to actually get the discount.)

So it turns out that a lot of companies spend a lot more time processing charges from people who pay less.  Here are more examples:

  • The meeting registration system that can’t process discounts properly so you have to call the organization to get the discount.
  • The discount code that you can’t use on the Web, only by phone.
  • The publication that gives you a quantity discount, but you have to call.

My take on discounts is this: you’re getting less money already from discounted transactions, so figure out how to automate the processing. The more you need people to handle the details, the less money you actually make.  Talk to your vendor and eliminate the extra staff time.  You’ll probably also get a bump in sales because more people will take advantage of the discounts!

How about you?  Does your company have a process that makes you work more for less money?  Run into any good (ahem, bad) examples?