Thursday, October 30, 2008

"No, You Can't Have That Discount"

You've probably seen banner ads for Lamps Plus on major media websites, including newspaper websites, offering $10 off a purchase. Well, I was in the market for a new lamp, and thought I would try them out. They have a really clever database design, "powered by EasyAsk", they have nice, clear images of their merchandise, their prices are comparable to other online vendors, and they do a great job trying to upsell accessories at the end of your purchase.

So what are they doing wrong?

They wouldn't honor their discount.

Now I'll grant, when you click through their ad you get a paragraph-long set of exclusions from the $10 discount offer, but they do nothing to explain to you why a particular lighting fixture doesn't qualify for a discount. You just get an impersonal error message and no discount.

To me, that's worse than not offering a discount in the first place.1

So what did I do? I searched the same product at Yahoo! shopping, used Google to look up coupon codes for the various merchants listed, and found one that offered a ten percent discount plus free shipping. Lamps Plus ended up saving its $10, and I ended up saving quite a bit more.
1. It feels like enough of a cheat when you see the "coupon code" box and don't have a code. I like the approach of KidSurplus, where they offer up a coupon code on every page of their site - so you have the easy opportunity to get a discount if you don't have a better code from another source.

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