I work in advertising, so I’m pretty familiar with ads that feature an asterisk (*) to explain the details. These type of ads are usually pretty easy to spot. I mean, when’s the last time you really got something for free? Look closely and the asterisk tells you that it’s free – you just pay processing and handling. Ta Da!
So imagine my embarrassment and frustration when I fell for this email from AT&T:
I admit it, I clicked the link as soon as I got it. Here’s why I fell for the email:
First, it’s from ATT. I have ATT Universal (phone, TV, mobile, internet) and am pleased with their service (generally), so awareness and attitude were in their favor.
Second, if the rumors are true, then Apple is releasing the iPad 3 in a couple of weeks, so I figured ATT was trying to dump their inventory of iPad 2s, so the ad seemed timely.
Third, I love my iPad and would love to get another one to give to my 7-year-old, so the offer was relevant to me.
Finally, it didn’t seem too good to be true. I cut off the fine print (the asterisk language), but it was straight-forward – get an iPad 2 with qualified data plan. No real details on the plan, but my gut was that a 2-year plan would warrant a free or deeply discounted iPad 2, so I went ahead and clicked the link.
Imagine my surprise when it turns out there is no iPad offer. No, really. None. The cost of the iPad at the end of the link is exactly the same as if you went to Apple.
My first thought was the link was wrong. It happens – you mean to send out an email that points to a unique landing page, but it drops to a main page, but as I read the page, I realized that this was the intended landing page. Then I thought that I just needed the offer code referenced in the email. I could click through and at some point I would be asked for the code which would provide me the discount. Nope. Frustrated with my shopping experience I decided to call the number instead. I don’t consider myself dumb, but I have done dumb things, and figured I was just missing the link or steps or whatever. Nope. The sales representative (who was very nice) told me that they can’t offer discounts on Apple products.
I will spare you the conversation where I proceeded to be incredulous and jump to the bottom-line, which is that there is no offer on the iPad itself.
Like I said earlier, I’m familiar with the concept of using the asterisk for claims, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an email from a company this “legitimate” that was so ridiculously misleading. I have shown this email to a lot of people and every single one of them thought there would be an offer on an iPad at the end of the click. I’m not sure how I should feel that there wasn’t an offer. On one hand I’m mad, but not sure if it’s because there wasn’t an offer or because I spent a bunch of time clicking around looking for the iPad. Frustrated might be a better word to use.
Frustrated or not, I’m a little impressed, honestly, because I wonder how many people clicked through and I know how hard it is to get people to click on an email. The truth is that while I am mad / frustrated, I’m not so mad / frustrated that I’m going to cancel service. Instead, I’m blogging about it. *sigh*
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