To Honor or Not Honor a Coupon

To Honor a Coupon or Not? Photo Courtesy of Frieda Tucker. Above Promotions Company, Tampa, FL 2012

To Honor a Coupon or Not? Photo Courtesy of Frieda Tucker. Above Promotions Company, Tampa, FL 2012

A recent experience by someone close to me really sent my marketing mind in a tizzy. I was in shock to see how even a larger “small” business with thousands of customers could handle a situation poorly.

Ready to hear what perplexed me? For purposes of this story, let’s call the main character Jon.

One Sunday afternoon Jon located a coupon for an oil change on a national coupon website for a local Toyota car dealership. Jon downloaded and printed the coupon. He immediately called the dealership to make an early morning appointment to obtain the service on that upcoming Wednesday. After a lengthy process of taking his contact and car information, the appointment was set.

Upon arriving early that Wednesday, the personnel in the service department refused to honor the coupon. Although the coupon had one rate and no stipulations on it but the expiration date, the employee at the dealership stated they could not offer the rate because his car was not a Toyota. The deal was only for Toyota cars. A big detail that the marketing department failed to include when submitting the promotion to the national coupon website. Jon eventually left without the oil change. The dealership lost their business and those who heard the story.

This incident really baffled me. With no restrictions on the coupon, nor the appointment setter asking anything regarding the coupon, you would think on customer service alone, the dealership would honor the coupon. Yet they chose not to, or should I say the personnel Jon spoke to opted to not offer it.

Is this coupon out in cyberspace to bait people to come into their dealership? Or does the dealership need to work on their customer service levels? Or maybe those in the marketing department need to articulate the rules of the promotion? Perhaps it is all three.

I pose this question to all of my business owners, would you honor or not honor a coupon that your organization submitted for a promotion regardless if you failed to include restrictions on it?

Please share your thoughts below. It could be used for an upcoming article.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

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Comments
20 Responses to “To Honor or Not Honor a Coupon”
  1. We would definitely honor the coupon. I totally understand restrictions and fine print, but if the marketing department forgot to include those, the customer should not be penalized for it.

    If I were on the shopper’s end, I would have asked to speak with a manager. And if I were that manager, not only would I have honored the coupon, but I’d have been happy to do so. Maybe even thrown in something extra to make up for the initial misunderstanding with the staffer who refused to accept the coupon.

    Customer service goes a loooong way.

    Ester Venouziou
    LocalShops1 founder

    http://www.localshops1.com

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Since pr and marketing is my field, I probably would have pushed for more discussion on this topic with them. Yet another reminder to go local.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I would certainly honor the coupon without blinking. I’ve even exchanged other company’s Shea Butter balms when customers mistakenly brought it to me :)

  4. Now that’s service! Thanks for sharing JoAnna!

  5. I would definitely say honour the coupon; if the information on that coupon is wrong, that is not the fault of the customer and the customer should not be penalised for it. The company concerned has certainly missed an opportunity of gaining a good reputation and will have lost more than one customer as the word of mouth from, ‘Jon’, will not be good. And in today’s climate of social networks, that word of mouth can be spread much faster. Very silly of the company concerned and if they were my client I would be urging them to contact the customer concerned and offering not only the oil change, but something else too, maybe a full service or at the very least something else at a very discounted rate.

  6. I whole heartly agree with Ester. As a business owner when I issue coupons typically they have no expiration date for that very reason. If you found it or someone shared the coupon with you, I want you to try my service and recommend me to others. Customer service must always be #1 no matter what industry you are in.

  7. Agreed Viv. So glad to see a fellow publicist from another country agree. Thanks for reading!

  8. #1 is a must! Thanks for reading Michelle!

  9. I would honor the coupon. The service personnel was short sighted in his refusal in honoring the coupon that his company used to market their business. Instead of gaining a new business in the future or great referrals , they now have lost business and a discussion of what not to do.

  10. Good point Sandra! Thanks for reading!

  11. Lisa Burns says:

    It doesn’t matter how large or small the company is, it is bad business to not honor the coupon. We have even honored an expired coupon to make a customer happy. They in return told others about us and we received two new customers because of it. Good customer service is so important.

  12. Now that’s good service! Thanks for reading Lisa!

  13. Definitely honor the coupon. The oil change cost to the dealership doesn’t change with the make of the car. They missed a huge chance to gain a new customer and have him spread the word about their service. People tell 2-5 people about good service they’ve received. On average, they will tell more than 5 people about bad service they have received. And with social media, I think people tell a lot more people about both.

    Barbara Grassey
    http://www.TheMarketingWord.com

  14. Marketing today requires high service levels and visual sharing. Great feedback Barbara! Thanks for reading!

  15. Honor Thy Coupon! and do it with diplomacy and tact. That dealership has no idea of the influence this person may have on other area consumers, internet buyers or if he in fact may be looking at Toyota for his next brand of car. I am sure one thing they did manage to do was NOT get a referral.
    This person did not just walk in off the street and show a coupon…he called and made an appointment. Did anyone even ask him when he called what his make and model car were? Did they ask if he was using a coupon or deal? This was a missed opportunity to find out where their marketing efforts were working as well as stop a possible problem from getting to their “door”.
    Brenda Ellison-MyInfoSnap

  16. Excellent points Brenda! Thanks for your feedback!

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