Provavelmente a maior e mais frequente paranóia de cliente é em relação à brechas em mecânicas e regulamentos de promoções.
Não é à toa, já que muita gente já se deu muito bem do lado do consumidor e muita gente já se deu muito mal, do lado do marketing e da agência.
Nosso updater Neto, sócio da Bullet, deve ter boas histórias para contar sobre isso, depois vou pedir alguma para ele.
Enquanto isso, conto essa, que aconteceu em 1999.
Um professor e engenheiro civil chamado David Phillips estava fazendo suas compras no supermercado quando um cartaz chamou sua atenção:
PROMOÇÃO: NA COMPRA DE 1 PUDIM, VOCÊ GANHA 100 MILHAS AÉREAS.
O pudim custava 25 cents.
David não teve dúvida: comprou 12.150 pudins por US$ 3.140. Disse que estava fazendo um estoque em sua casa por causa do bug do milênio, lembra?
Com essa pudinzada toda, ele ligou para o Exército da Salvação e doou tudo, só pediu ajuda para separar os códigos de barra.
Os códigos foram então enviados para a Healthy Choice Foods e foram de fato trocados por… 1.250.000 milhas. David já havia colocado sua historia na internet e seria muito pior comprar uma briga nessa altura.
Com as milhas que ganhou David poderia ir e voltar 31 vezes para a Europa, 42 vezes para o Havaí, 21 vezes para a Austrália ou 50 vezes em qualquer cidade nos Estados Unidos.
Com esse volume todo de milhas, virou best friend da American Airlines e ganhou uma carteirinha AAdvantage Gold que dá direito a um número especial para fazer reservas, cartões de embarque com prioridade, upgrades e inclusive, mais milhas.
Deduziu US$ 815 do seu imposto pela doação de pudins ao Exército da Salvação.
Tudo isso por US$ 3.140.
David Philips virou uma celebridade, o “Pudding Guy”. Sua história foi publicada no The Wall Street Journal e no The Times.
Em 2002, foi para no filme “Embriagados de Amor”, com a Adam Sandler.
Até hoje, 15 anos depois, ele vive da fama da sua manobra, fazendo palestras pelos Estados Unidos para empresas e para consumidores fanáticos por milhagens. Continua se beneficiando da promoção, ganhando milhas numa velocidade 5 vezes maior do que gasta.
E apesar da absurda brecha deixada no regulamento que não previa número máximo de pudins, a Healthy Choice acabou gostando de toda essa publicidade gratuíta. O prejuízo foi mínimo porque as milhas foram compradas por um valor especial (US$ 50.000). Claro que alguém do marketing deve ter dançado, mas no fim foi um grande negócio para todo mundo.
Abaixo, uma entrevista rápida (em inglês) com David Phillips para Johnny Jet:
HOW OFTEN DO YOU FLY?
This is hugely variable from year to year. I usually travel for business once or twice a year and take at least two major family vacations. But one year I burned through a lot of vacation time and traveled to 16 countries on over 50 flights. I’m lucky because most of my travel is by choice, and I can usually fly for almost nothing using frequent flyer miles.
IN A YEAR HOW MANY MILES/POINTS DO YOU EARN?
Even with all the free trips I take, I’m still earning miles and points about five times faster than I’m spending them. Less than a million miles is a bad year for me. Getting over a 1.25M miles via $2,000 of chocolate pudding with an assist from the Salvation Army was the funniest example to date, but fantastic deals crop up all the time. To take advantage, you have to be willing to invest a little money and effort in the process, and maintain a good sense of humor.
In 2001, for example, I scored on some generous offers from Hilton by switching hotels every night whenever I was traveling. Five nights in New York City, five different Hilton properties. One long weekend in London was good for eight “stays” since we took the whole family. My kids actually enjoy this sort of thing. In fact, I’m not sure my 7-year-old even realizes you can stay in a hotel for more than one night at a shot!
With almost 4 million miles in my accounts now, I’m well set, but I still can’t turn my back on a good deal. Half a cent per mile is my standard threshold. If I can earn miles for less than 0.5 cents per mile, I’m all over it. Crazy mileage run trips are the most enjoyable projects, but no-fly promotions can be good, too. As a result of these, I’ve got a freezer full of fancy steaks, a pantry loaded with multi-year supplies of breakfast bars, cereal, and popcorn, and my mailbox is overflowing with magazines-all byproducts from recent projects for miles and points.
WHAT CLASS OF SERVICE DO YOU MOSTLY FLY IN?
Mainly coach. I’m stingy with my miles. I’d rather take more trips, take my family, and bring some friends along than enjoy the extra room. The food and wine up front has very little appeal to me. Entrees like chipotle shrimp with pumpkin and wild mushrooms just aren’t my thing. Plus, I use to work at Baskin-Robbins, so I don’t get too excited about hot fudge sundaes. Since American has taken out a row or two, all of their seats are pretty comfortable. I only wish all the other airlines would follow their lead and provide a decent coach product.
American’s my overall favorite because I like their frequent flyer program best and their coach seats provide the most space. I’ve also got lifetime Platinum status with American, so I can avoid the long check-in lines and use the first-class counter. That’s been a huge time saver lately.
I like Boeings’ 777 and 767 best, though any wide body works for me. I love movies so I’m also a big fan of any plane that has personal video monitors.
The Grand Hotel in Stockholm tops my list. My wife and I had a really fantastic stay there in the dead of winter. A super cool spa, five kinds of herring for breakfast, the best beds on earth, and some very interesting in-room movies made for a really special stay.
FAVORITE HOTEL AMENITY?
Huge free breakfasts top my list. I love cook-to-order egg stations. I’d quickly forego robes, slippers, and chocolates for a decent omelet in the morning.
I can’t say I have an overall favorite. I like FAT (Fresno) because it’s very close to my parent’s house and they still don’t have jetways. I like climbing up steps to the plane. Smaller airports are often the best for starts and destinations because it’s much easier to come and go. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve yet to have a good experience at JFK.
FAVORITE AIRPORT TO PASS TIME IN?
No clear favorite here, either. They’re still mostly noisy, boring, and uncomfortable. Once I’ve had my fill of chili, BBQ, or Mexican food, I usually seek out a quiet seat and spend my time reading. A good book can overcome even the worst airport. The airline’s private lounges can be nice, and are probably well worth the membership price if you’re stuck in airports a lot.
It’s close to home, but San Francisco is tough to beat. London and New York are great for repeat visits, too. But I generally prefer visiting new cities, and just about any city can be a blast if you’re guided by someone who lives there.
As anyone who’s traveled with me can attest, I’m not too picky about food. I eat-and like-just about everything. I prefer street food to nice restaurants. I usually pick off-beat items on the menu, things I haven’t tried before. I recently had about 10 new dishes during a family style meal at an authentic Armenian restaurant. Strange stuff, but all good.
AISLE OR WINDOW?
Window. The sights can be great and no one ever has to wake me up when they need to get up.
ETICKET OR PAPER?
Since I’m known to lose things and the airlines are now charging for paper, e-tickets are best for me.
TRAVEL AGENT OR ONLINE?
I almost always book everything myself, though I really wish I had a relationship with a great travel agent because they can work magic for tricky arrangements. I’d love to hear from any experts willing to take me on as a regular (though demanding) client. Send me a note!
FAVORITE TRAVEL WEBSITE?
All of the best frequent flyer schemes get good coverage at Flyertalk.com. Johnnyjet.com is great because it’s one-stop access to all the best travel sites. I’m also a regular traveler to ptanderson.com.
FAVORITE TRAVEL COMPANION?
Even though I spend a huge amount of time waiting for them to emerge from public toilets, my wife Cindy and our daughters are the best. My travel photos turn out a lot better with such cute subjects included.
IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A TROPICAL ISLAND, WHAT THREE ITEMS WOULD YOU WANT TO HAVE WITH YOU?
Assuming I don’t have to stay stranded, I’d want a charged satellite phone, GPS unit, and a solar still for water until help arrives.
Assuming I’m stuck there, and people aren’t options, I’d need a massive survival book. For mental stimulation I’d pick a comprehensive language textbook to really learn Spanish. For entertainment, could I have a piano? I think the Swiss Family Robinson had one.
BEST TRAVEL TIP:
Ask local people for travel advice, but ignore strangers that offer help without your asking.