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The Good And Bad of Loyalty Marketing

Over the years, university studies about customer loyalty have shown businesses that it is more profitable to keep customers than to develop new ones. That is why there are so many customer loyalty programs. Dollar value cash cards, cents off gas rewards, even your local sandwich shop has a free sandwich after you buy 6. Supposedly there is none better than the 3% cash rewards for usage with TXU electric service.

Almost three years ago, I moved to a new home. I had been a loyal TXU customer all of my life. Only after deregulation in Texas for the utilities did I even notice there was competition for my electric bill. Even so, I was quite reluctant to change. So when I moved, I signed up again with TXU. They went through their plans and cash rewards with me on the phone. moving from TXUSince I was in the process of closing, moving, doing hundreds of other important relocation tasks, the TXU phone conversations took place on my cell phone, while I was driving. I had no time to read any of the ‘fine print’. All I remembered was I signed up for 24 months and would get 3% of my electricity kw usage back on a VISA cash card at the end of the year. I started the contract on the first of November, 2009, which meant is would expire the end of October 2011.

Essentially, everything went as expected. No issues or serious billing problems. I got my first reward card in February of 2011. It spent and I was pleased. I also was approached by several friends, and my brother and sister-in-law in particular, to switch to Ambit Energy. I explained that I couldn’t until my 24 months was up. And in December 2011, almost 2 months after my contract was up, I made the switch to Ambit. March 2012 rolls around, and I realize I haven’t gotten a VISA reward card. I call TXU to find out what was wrong. It actually took two calls by me, and a return call from TXU to get to the bottom of the problem. Remember that fine print I didn’t read? It says you only get the VISA card if you are a customer on December 31 of the year. In other words, no matter your 24 month contract, no matter of your fulfilled commitment, you have to be a customer Jan 1-Dec 31. I left TXU on Dec 22.

About six weeks later, I got a marketing call from TXU. They were wanting me to come back as a customer. I explained the issue to the one calling, and he genuinely felt he could get me in contact with someone that could make this right. I was optimistic as he sounded optimistic. So I let him transfer me to someone else, to hear if they could help. To my dismay, they were going to offer me $200 to sign up with them and 3% cash rewards. The $200 was what they were offering BEFORE my tale of the missing 2011 VISA rewards. So in my eyes, I really wasn’t getting my rewards, just the new sign up incentive.

Today comes another TXU marketing call. Now it has been three or four months since the previous marketing call. This first line caller sounded much more authoritative. She had a $250 sign up offer. When I explained that I would only come back to TXU when I got my 3% VISA rewards for 2011, she offered to bump the sign up to $350. Now we’re getting somewhere. All I needed to do before signing up, was to see her offer in writing. You won’t believe what she told me. “This offer is made right now over the phone.” She said I could sign up because they have a 30 day money back guarantee. If after I sign up, it’s not like she said, I can’t cancel. Do you know what kind of hassle electric billing transfer is? I told her it boils down to this: I will accept her offer she has made to me over the phone if I can review it, either online, email or written before I will sign up. If this is not possible, then there is nothing further to discuss.

As of this article, I am still with Ambit Energy.

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