Using Commercials to Alienate Paying Customers

December 23, 2008

This evening we decided to treat ourselves to pizza rather than cook something at home.  We both like the personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut on occasion, so I called their number to place my order.

And got to listen to a canned ad for the newly added "Wing Street" offerings.  We've called them enough times now for me to feel confident in saying that while you are listening to the initial ad, the phone in the store hasn't even rung yet. The initial ad is always the same and it is never interrupted by the phone being answered. They've got you captive and are going to milk the moment for all it's worth.  Eventually the ad ends, and then the hold music/advertising starts.  The hold loop is almost always interrupted immediately by the takeout order taker, adding to my belief that the phone call isn't put through to the store until after you've had your commercial.

Most of the DVD movies we own have some kind of preview, and quite a few have a commercial at the beginning.  The most egregious have an anti-piracy commercial.  I just paid for the DVD and now you are forcing me to watch a anti-piracy video?  Hitting the menu button or fast forwarding to the next chapter are blocked, so you have to endure their self-righteousness in order to watch the movie.

In both these instances I am already a paying customer.  Well, in the pizza case I want to be a customer. Does upper management at Pizza Hut feel they will increase revenue by forcing me to listen to a commercial extolling the virtues of their new expanded menu?  And does the movie industry think that insulting customers who've already paid money with an obnoxious commercial will increase their goodwill?

I will continue to endure the force-to-listen to commercials at Pizza Hut because once in a while I want their product.  And I will continue to endure force-to-watch anti-piracy ads on DVD because I want to watch the movie I've purchased.  But I will not have sympathy for organizations that take advantage of their customer's goodwill and then cry foul with people find ways around the system.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.