Other Editorials

Card Trick

Jim Dollinger
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

At one point, the GM credit card program was a tremendous success. Cardholders were able to receive rebate points equal to 5% of charges placed, and many took advantage of the lucrative program to accumulate earnings toward a new GM vehicle. Then someone in marketing had the brilliant idea to change the rules. Subsequently, earnings were limited and reduced, greatly alienating, confusing, and generally upsetting many cardholders who cancelled their cards after learning points earned previously were discounted, or no longer compatible with various purchase programs. Most directly this change effected GM employees and family members, many of whom found their earnings to be useless.

Today, GM has added a twist. Often times cardholders are offered an increase in their points. These random offerings frequently increase points from hundreds of dollars to thousands. Some customers even receive the mailing shortly after purchasing, only to then learn the incentive isn't eligible on a previous transaction, even if missed by only a few days.

How much more sense would it have made to simply leave a successful promotion alone? The grief and confusion caused by GM marketing executives through their lack of understanding only adds to the distaste consumers have toward GM in general and dealers specifically when they are the ones having to explain to the buyer why they are not able to utilize an incentive. Also, imagine the frustration when someone's friend, or family member, is able to do so but they are not.

One of the first steps in Return to Greatness is to revert to the original program and maintain a fair, logical, and consistent offering.