image compliments of iStockphoto.com
I'm sure that most of my readers here and certainly most of the tech world is always looking for ways to be more efficient. I'm always looking at ways of cutting out extra steps in my work and of course saving money on the things that I buy and do. However, some times I run across a company's process that leaves me scratching my head. Here are three recent ones that come to mind…
A free drink from Starbucks
It's funny because many would argue that Starbucks is certainly a step in the wrong direction of saving money :) However, this post is not so much about over priced coffee as it is about glaring inefficiencies in the use of technology. I recently reached Starbucks' Gold Status in their rewards program. There are a few perks such as free coffeee refills and drink add-ins. However, their biggest perk is that now after every 15 purchases/stars I get a Free Drink. Cool! I just hit my first Free Drink level and what I expected was that they would merely add the Free drink to my card electronically. That would make the most sense to me and certainly cut down on their costs. No no no. They are mailing me the "Free" drink coupon! They sent me an email to let me know that it's on the way!
Coinstar ran an iTunes eCertificate special
Coinstar allows you to turn your loose change (coins) into electronic certificates at several merchants such as Amazon.com, Borders, iTunes, The Gap, etc. Right before the Christmas Holiday they ran a special that if you cashed in at least $40 in coins for an iTunes credit they would give you the full amount (no fees/commissions) plus $10 more! Sweet. I rounded up my coins, took them to my closest Coinstar machine and walked out with a printed eCertificate for the full amount in iTunes credit. Great! What about my extra $10? Surely that code was printed on the receipt too. Nope, they mailed me a $10 iTunes Gift Card about 2 weeks later. sigh. By the way, once you scratch off the card, get the code and key it in, the card is pretty much useless at that point. While I'm sure that Coinstar had to buy these cards to use for their program, I'm wondering if it would have made more sense to have the same person that put the card into an envelope to just scratch it off and email me the code. This would have at least saved the paper and postage.
My favorite one of them all – The Water Company
My local water company allows you to pay your bill via an automatic deduction from your bank account. Great! I pay most of my bills this way anyway. The first step in the process was of course to sign up for it. I went to the City's website in search of the form and to my surprise you actually have to (get this) call them and request it be mailed to you. Um, OK. Not really understanding why this couldn't just be a PDF on the website as there was nothing special about the form, I went ahead and made the call. I got the form, filled it out, mailed it back and thought all would be good from that point forward. The next month the amount of the bill was deducted from my checking account as planned. However, I noticed an envelope from them in the mail. I opened it and…..wait for it…..it was a bill with a zero balance. Each month they send me a bill to show me a zero balance.