Why is AT&T faking it?

This post in The Consumerist describes AT&T using a "Receipt Enclosed" solo mail package. While this type of approach can be successful in getting short-term response rates, the fake nature of the package can also have a backlash impact on those who don't respond.  Many consumers such as the contributor to Consumerist.com will look at this type of mail as j--k and be less likely to choose AT&T in the future.  That's a Fail for Creative.

Lesson: If you want to jeopardize long-term brand equity for short-term results, send a fake important-seeming package.


Chase Credit Cards: When a fee is not a fee

Outer Envelope

Earlier this year, I wrote how a Presidential Plus credit card offer from Chase was a Fail for Creative and Offer. The letter was confusing and defensive and sent at a time when it was not clear to the consumer — and perhaps to Chase — which cardmember benefits would be available with the card.

Stronger Cover Letter

A more recent version of the solicitation arrived in my mailbox. Rather than cite the merger, the letter ignores it.  Smart move. Instead it leads with a competitive rebuttal to the AmericanExpress Platinum Card, leveraging the fact that people with Chase’s Presidential Plus Card can visit the Presidents Club, while those with a Platinum Card have to wait for their flight with the little people. The letter is smartly signed by someone from Continental Airlines rather than someone from United Airlines. In this respect, the letter is a dramatic improvement.

The package merits a Fail for Creative and Offer for Chase’s communication of the benefit of no foreign transaction fees. Over the past decade, nearly all the major banks have increased their foreign transaction fee from 1% to 3%. In fact, until a few months ago, only Capital One did not charge the fee. For a $5,000 business trip — including lodging, dining, transportation and other expenses — 3% in transaction fees means $150 in costs for engaging in normal purchasing behavior. A savings of 3% in and of itself is more attractive to international business travelers than frequent flyer miles with an implied benefit of ½% to 2% of the purchase amount.

Colorful insert
Back of colorful insert with benefit description
The benefit is cited in a colorful insert but not the cover letter. That is a bit of a miss. The insert references checking the back of the cover letter, which does mention (though in small type) that there are no foreign transaction fees. But the Fail is that the official legal communication of pricing information, the Schumer Box, lists in clear 12-point typeface in the Fees section “Foreign Transactions: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.”
The back of the letter mentions "Foreign Transaction Fee: None" however ...

... the Schumer Box, the legal documentation of account terms, mentions 3% Foreign Transaction fee
The package included a color benefits brochure
Also, why is the response URL continentalpresplus.com? The card being sold is the Presidential Plus Card that reads on the card “Presidential Plus”. So why not use presidentialplus.com, chasepresplus.com, presidentialpluscard.com or even chaseprespluscard.com?

  1. Communication of offers and benefits should be consistent throughout your package, especially when legal documents are involved.
  2. If your product has a strong benefit, communicate it in your cover letter.
  3. When a response method is online, use a URL that properly describes the product or is easy for a consumer to remember.