There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – But Have A Tasty #PRFail On Us

by Scott Douglas

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Graze Proves Unpalatable

Online snack delivery company, Graze is run by some very smart people and the delicious nibbles they sent through the post are wonderful.

Indeed, the whole business idea is clever and likeable – boxes of natural treats regularly delivered by post with 100 nutritious and healthy options to choose from. And the boxes are just £3.89 – yummy.

But several staffers here at Holyrood PR have found out the hard way that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The cunning marketing team behind Graze promote the range by inviting users to sign up and get a Graze box free. They send out vouchers and urge existing users to pass them on to friends. So far, so good

When users have the ‘voucher’ they are invited to log in online to input the details. This is when the warning bells may ring for some, as users are required to give their debit or credit card details. It’s definitely where I lost interest.

Not everyone is as cynical and long in the tooth as I am and few innocent souls were reassured by the onscreen pop up, with the soothing words: “We only need your payment card now to verify your details for your free box. After that we charge per box so there’s no obligation to continue”.

The pop up also makes it clear that Graze only charges one box at a time (the day before that box is sent out) and that users are NOT signing up to a Direct Debit. Also, by going online, users can cancel at any time.

Graze CancelledA number of Holyrooders were sufficiently reassured by the friendly tone and ethical look and tone of the company’s website to carry on.

Now they feel just a tad daft when further boxes arrived today – and they realised they are now £3.89 lighter and will have to go through the online equivalent of an ‘unsubscribe’ to cancel future deliveries (and future bank account deductions).

Why don’t Graze simply make that box free with no subsequent opt-out required? They’d still have an email address (and postal details) to market to individuals and urge them to try again. Even better, if they want payment details, why not come up with a system that lets interested customers simply order a box on an ad-hoc basis when they feel like it?

That would be an honest and open way to win over customers – and hopefully turn the occasional grazer into a weekly subscriber. What they’ve got instead is bonkers.

Sorry Graze, but as far as I’m concerned you’ve just gone from being an innovative and smart start-up with the feelgood factor and an ethical vibe to nothing more than another shallow, corporate money grabber.

It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, that “we need your payment details to verify your details” schtick ends up feeling pretty sordid when those genuinely grateful for the free box, suddenly realise they’ve just been fleeced. 

Sure, it might only be £3.89. Truth is, it’s not the money that upsets people here. It’s the fact you look like a cuddly, well-intentioned firm – the kind you’d gamble on as being trustworthy and so part with your payment card details. When that trust is breached, it leaves a decidedly nasty taste in the mouth.

All in all, I’d say this is a #PRfail – and one that’s a lot less palatable then chilli and garlic olives and lot harder to stomach than seeded granola.

 

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