Daily Archives: January 4, 2013

The Real Price to Getting a Returning Customer

A couple days ago I received a new credit card. Doing the card switch during lunch was perhaps not the best because of the short time it takes to activate. I didn’t have much cash on me, but I was told the new card would be ready for use in roughly ten minutes. It was a relief to be assured at my bank that my credit was still rock solid and no problems were present with regard to spending or any other financial matter. (Wheww) Good.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our federal government. The recent ‘fiscal cliff’ deal proved once again that our president and legislators will continue to purposefully (and destructively) spend beyond our means on programs that are known to be dangerously unsustainable. Not good at all.

I wonder if our federal government would be approved for a credit card if a local bank examined their statement?

Depressing news aside, the new year brings so many wonderful things: joyful hope, personal rebirth in the form of resolutions and college football bowl games! “The Grand Daddy of Them All” is of course the best, but this year it was actually the second best game of the day. The Outback Bowl, which hosted That State Up North and South Carolina, was quite a game for multiple reasons.

It was a battle throughout and included a KO hit courtesy of South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. An almost hard to watch hit, the fact that the player struck was alright and he was a Wolverine made it a little easier to see.

Trailing 28-26 with 17 seconds left, Dylan Thompson passed to Bruce Ellington at the Wolverine’s two yard line, who then strolled into the end zone for what became the go-ahead touchdown. While this was good news for folks of the ‘other’ Carolina, there was a greater prize at stake.

Outback Steakhouse, understanding its national exposure, declared before kickoff that whoever won the bowl game, a free item would be offered to its patrons the following day. That State Up North=Free Coconut Shrimp and South Carolina=Free Bloomin’ Onion.

Calling at 5:30 for a reservation, the girl with a cute voice from Outback said the wait was about 45 minutes. Wow! Ladies and gentlemen, Outback wins the first award of 2013 for Best Advertising.

Returning back to obtaining a new credit card, I drove around for about fifteen minutes on my way to lunch to make sure the card would be usable. After walking into a Subway, I ordered my six-inch sub and decided to make it a meal with chips and a drink. Nothing too exciting, but sometimes so is life. I hand, who I believe is the owner and acting cashier, my rewards card and mint credit card. He swiped the rewards card with no problem. Next, the credit card…Declined.

This is a place nobody wants to be, especially with people behind you. I quickly shuffled for the $5 I luckily had in my front pocket. I requested the chips and drink be taken off my order. He obliged and as he gave me the change for the sub, he pushed the drink cup towards me. I said, “No, I can’t.” He replied with a belated, “Merry Christmas” and a gentle smile. I said, “Thank you” and proceeded towards the soda machine.

Later on that evening, my credit card was activated and my credit was flowing once more.

Some may be wondering why I spent energy writing about a free Bloomin’ Onion and getting a free drink from Subway. Let me explain.

People appreciate it when businesses and people reach out like this. It’s nothing permanent, but just a nice, “Thank You” to their customers (and in some cases, fans). Observing an uncomfortable circumstance, the cashier/owner took it upon himself to make it clear that giving a break to a patron is sometimes more important than a monetary bottom line.

In April of 2009, Jay Leno offered a free concert to people of Auburn Hills in That State Up North. It was part of his, “Comedy Stimulus Tour.” The show was meant to be a night out on the town for those in very hard hit areas following the events of 2008 to laugh a little with a free Pepsi and bag of chips.

Jay had said that the NBA arena where it took place was so large and that there were initial concerns about their only being one or two security guards. Turned out the concert went on without a single incident. In and around Detroit, that is impressive.

To be clear, this is not about getting free stuff whatsoever. It’s an acknowledgement of those in big business and big comedy that still see people and not just numbers on a spread sheet. These three examples could be viewed as varying types of random acts of kindness. Things like a free drink or comedy show are not expected to become formal protocol, but it’s always a very pleasant surprise when strangers or even familiar faces offer a helping hand.

A medium drink at Subway costs about $1.50 and that’s likely how much that particular Subway lost that day. However, I have a suspicion that the American people can live with this kind of relative over-spending by their government on certain occasions.

In fact, most people would probably prefer their government be run by someone more like the aforementioned Subway owner/cashier. The problem is most of the leaders in the private sector and federal government could not be farther apart in how they operate their given business/country.


Businesses=Fiscally Responsible with a few friendly giveaways

Federal Government=Fiscally Irresponsible with too many ‘friendly’ giveaways