Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Harvey Norman's Vaguely Impressive Piffle

There was great excitement at work last week when an unmarked envelope was handed in at reception.

Inside was a letter from Harvey Norman (an electronics and furniture chain that have an outlet nearby), inviting me to a special VIP night as I was a "Valued Customer"

There are a few things about this letter that I find incongruous:

1. The envelope was blank, yet the salutation within is to a 'Valued Customer'. I don't think they really cared who opened the envelope.

2. They called me a "valued customer". I've spent practically nothing in Harvey Norman over the past two years on account of the underhand tactics employed by their TV shillers. I don't think they really cared who opened the envelope.

3. The letter advises the valued customer, who is valued for the custom they have brought to the business to "contact the store on 061-422800 for directions". Maybe a lot of their valued customers are forgetful. Maybe they didn't really care who opened the envelope.

4. The letter recipient is told to "feel free to extend your invite to family, friends and neighbors to take advantage of this wonderful night of savings" - they're essentially saying "it's a VIP night for people who aren't particularly important."

5. The letter promises "staff prices throughout the evening", but the letter itself has that phrase in quotation marks. They're effectively saying I'm giving you a "discount".

6. Attendees will get exclusive offers with "never seen before prices". Just because the price hasn't been seen before doesn't necessarily mean that it's lower.

7. It's the "First Annual VIP Night". Exciting! But the previous night had "over 1500 attending" But this is the first one!

Y'know what would have been a better idea? To announce that Harvey Norman are having a late-opening sale. Maybe they could say that they're liquidating stock. That would get me excited. Would anybody actually go for this bizarre marketing ploy?

Well, I went along at about 8.30pm to see if it worked. There were only about 20 people in the building, workforce included. It was only about two hours into the evening and the staff seemed to be begrudging the whole affair. When I approached the running 3D TV demo-unit with my friend and picked up the glasses to witness the paradigm-shifting goodness, some pissed off employee came running towards us and yelled "You okay, lads?" to startle me into putting back the anointed eyewear. Surely a VIP is deserving of a "Sir" when he's being rebuked for trying out the fucking demo-unit that they've been pimping on the radio ad-nauseam?

One of the best deals I saw was an iPod/iPhone TV docking station for €99. I called in again today (a week later) to see that the price was now €99, and instead of a big "VIP EVENING" A4 sheet drawing attention to the price, there was now a small square pricetag, the same as everything else.

I went to the VIP night with two friends and an open mind, and Harvey Norman proved to me that their staff are surly, their hyperbole about great prices and unbeatable sales is unparalleled, and they conduct their business in an underhand fashion for no good reason.

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