One of the most frustrating things to see is the blind pursuit of points, miles, rebates and free stuff at the cost of time. In just the past week I’ve seen a number of such deals where people sell their time in exchange for something trivial, thus preventing the achievement of bigger and better things.
Here’s a couple of examples:
Get a free Chipotle
- (perhaps lie) that you were going there anyway and the store was closed.
- Sign up to receive your free Chipotle
The way I look at that is from the vendor’s perspective:
- Give away $9 burrito, cost price of $1.5
- Get people into your store (perhaps upselling some on the Guac/Soda)
- Get mailing list for them, spam them with news/coupons
If both of you profit, is it a win/win? Or does someone always lose? In a similar example (for banks) discussed on twitter recently with Noah from the Money Metagame, he thinks you can have winners like this because the inferior competition loses:
@Chucksth Sounds like everybody wins! Discover ftw though, they have great banking products
— Money Metagame (@Money_Metagame) February 9, 2016
But the reality is that it is never a zero sum win/loss. There is always friction or attrition at play, and this is most commonly overlooked in the pursuit of happiness, or a free Burrito. A section of the win for Chipotle is to gain your attention and get you on their list, once you have visited the store for your freebie, should they have performed correctly, you will return. Perhaps you’ll return as soon as they snap their fingers (offer a coupon) and you get hooked. The CAC (customer acquisition cost) is the price paid to those customers who do get a free Burrito. Note that not everyone will claim that freebie in time, but everyone will get themselves on ‘the list’.
I hear the same when it comes to opting out of SPAM. Many people tell me they regret opting out of mailed spam letters now because they saw someone with a 100K Membership Rewards offer. But we really must keep an eye on the broader picture:
Points and Miles (and free Burritos) are supposed to provide us with leverage beyond cash, or simply allowing us to save cash otherwise allocated for these expenses. They are supposed to enhance our lives. It is very easy to lose sight of the goal, and instead create a life where everything is a coupon, and you spend so much time complicating things in the hope that you’ll strike it lucky with some high quality SPAM that overall, everything degrades.
Remember, everything has a price. There’s never really a win/win, and it is the little things that will slowly add up that will reduce your quality of life, making you the game, not the player.