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Are you wearing marketing blinkers?

I certainly was for a while...

My power supply company likes to trade on an active power saving marketing image. They offer customers the opportunity to monitor their power usage and save buy buying special-priced power packs when they are offered.

These specials are to either buy power in advance (tiny savings of 1% or 2% or perhaps up to 4% for several months in advance, perhaps 10% for six months in advance) or small amounts - around $20 to $30 worth of power, up to $40 at a push - with around a 10% saving. The latter have a short-term availability of a day or two – a buy now or lose out type of deal. These are usually worth buying, but won’t amount to big savings as it is always on smaller amounts.

Despite being conditioned, as I am, by social sharing badges and the like, the fact that the company announced that you could still purchase these short-notice deals and pay it later got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be easier (and more beneficial for everyone) if they stopped wasting money creating and promoting specials, and just lowered their total overall price by a couple of cents? I’m sure 1c off my total bill for a year would amount to more than 10% of $30 every once in a while.

I’d certainly rather pay less for my power than hassle with opt-in savings deals, which are really designed to keep the company top of mind and synonymous with power savings. And I’d rather not pay for an extra marketing person or two to devise schemes to keep me engaged (as it I don’t have enough demands on my time) and help only some of their customers save money; those proactive enough to be online looking out for deals.

There’s only one logical reason I can see for making people opt into saving on their bills: Marketing. It forces interaction and makes the company look like a hero – helping you save money… when in fact, you could save the exact same amount, with no effort or opt in if they weren’t manipulating you into this behaviour through the structure of their deals.

A lower overall price makes sense and customers wouldn’t miss out if they missed the deal window because they were sick or off line.

Do we get a dopamine hit for clicking on a deal and “saving “ money? Do we suspend our judgement and stop thinking of ways to make this better and more cost-effective for everyone? It sure seems like it. People were quick to defend these specials for those who watch their bills and take action to lower their costs. If I save money it is good – forget about the other suckers and win-win solutions…

It's a customer pain point that I'm no longer prepared to overlook - and I’m now considering changing power supply companies. I like the flexibility they offer to pre-pay or pay on account as my finances or whims dictate, but I don’t like being duped into buying specials, when really – they could just give me the best priced deal in the first place.

I will be shopping around for that option now that my marketing blinkers are off.