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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday War: JCPenney vs. Kohls

Ever been standing in a department store checkout line, stepped up to the counter, and presented your coupon for the items you picked out, only to be told your coupon does not apply that merchandise? The funny thing is, many of their coupons claim in giant print "No Exclusions", but if you glance down to the tiny print towards the bottom, you most likely will see "Coupon does not apply to cosmetics and fragrances, Best Value items, Cookware, Electronics, gift certificates, etc. In fact, I dare you to find any item that the coupon is actually good for. JCPenney thrives off this tactic.

On the other end of the spectrum, Kohl's provides customers with all-inclusive coupons that are even good on sale items, but their specific scheme unfolds when you spend over $50.00 in merchandise and receive a gift certificate  for $10.00 in Kohl's cash for the next time you shop. Sounds pretty great, but what they do not tell you is the limited time frame in which you have to use the "cash". Those dates can range from a few days to a week at most, and can be found in tiny print on the bottom of the certificate. Now you have to scramble to find an item so you can use the $10.00, of course, providing you don't forget to use it before it expires.

Unfortunately, marketing and promotions always seem to get a bad name because of companies taking part in horrible gimmicks like these. They advertise specials and coupons to entice you into their store, then slap you with fine print exclusions that need a magnifying glass to read. Neither JCPenney or Kohls have taken customer complaints into consideration and have chosen instead to use the information as ammunition against their competitors. Newspaper inserts from Kohls tout their "No Exclusion" sales in big bold print and JCPenney radio commercials advertise $10.00, $15.00, and $20.00 cash coupons that shoppers can use on their immediate purchases. Meanwhile, the customers seem to be the only ones suffering.

I wholeheartedly agree with capitalism and competition, because I believe it forces companies to take a look at their products and create better quality goods where needed. But when companies turn on each other instead of developing better programs, they are losing what should be one of their core competencies - customer service. (Especially during the Holidays.) In case they forgot, shoppers are the ones that keep them in business. So JCPenney and Kohls, quit the pettiness, do your job, and keep your customers first.

Question: Have you noticed any extra marketing aggressiveness this Holiday season?


kim said...

I got my first "Kohls Cash" a few months ago- just before I had Lauren. With all of the craziness going on at that time, I didn't get a chance to get to the store. I called and spoke with the manager and without hesitation, they allowed me to use the Kohls Cash- which was really outdated. :)
And Kohl's return policy- amazing!!

I get what you mean though- the hidden schemes are outrageous at times, and so frustrating.

Kalyn said...

That was really nice of them to do that! I love it when stores show loyalty to their customers, because it makes me more likely to show loyalty to them!

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