Since I’m leaving the bigcorp I’m also leaving the bigcorp’s gym, so I bought a three-year membership to 24-Hour Fitness. (I hope that this does not show insufficent optimism about the startup’s chances – if we have our own gym in our own large corporate campus before three years from now, I guess I’ll just have to eat the cost. 🙂 )
Now, we’re all used to the drill of receiving a new credit card with a sticker asking us to call from our home phone to activate it. So when I got my 24-Hour Fitness card, complete with a sticker saying “Before using this card, please call 1-888-xxx-xxxx”, I dutifully made the call.
The recorded voice started out by saying “Thanks for calling! Your card can now be used at your local club!”. And I thought: wow, that’s … impressive. Because I was calling from my home phone, having given them my cell number as contact info. Yet somehow they managed to activate _my_ card on the basis of a call to a toll-free number from an unknown phone. Hmm.
The voice went on to say: “… While we have you on the phone, we’d like to ask you to complete a short _optional_ survey that will help us serve you better!”. Ohhhh…..
Then I realized that they hadn’t even lied, exactly. The sticker didn’t say “Please call to activate this card”, it said “Please call before using this card”. And the cheerful recorded voice didn’t say that the card had just been activated, or that it wasn’t usable before the call. It just said that the card could be used _now_ (which was true).
This is one of those things that if you’re in a good mood (as I happened to be) is just amusing when you realize the trick. But it’s a trick all the same. If you’re a company looking to build those long-term trust relationships with your customers, is it a good idea to trick them, even this trivially?