It Takes a Vigilance: Loyalty Programs that Steal Your Loyalty

Can you imagine what it would be like to support yourself by stealing money? Most people cannot.

Some companies can.

If you ever buy movie tickets online via Fandango — beware!

Because within Fandango’s online presence there lives a business — apparently separate from Fandango — which, as best I can tell, makes a good deal of its money by, in essence, stealing it.

The business, which has many names but legally is known as Webloyalty, worms its way into a person’s financial life by offering up a coupon at that single moment at the end of an online transaction when you’re about to hit the “confirm purchase” button.

The timing, we can surmise, is not by accident, because, at that “confirm purchase” moment, you are flushed with money-out endorphins (the rush you get when you buy something you want) and all stoked and in love with the power of your money-stored (to buy you things, to make you happy, etc.), at which point, if something pops up into your face and says I can save you $10 off your purchase if you simply click on me (or something along those lines), you are apt to agree to it and, especially if all the details are in very fine print and nicely hidden away, you are also apt to not notice that you are making an agreement with the devil which costs $12 a month, come rain or shine, whether you use it or not, and whether you wanted it in the first place or not.

Got’ch’ya! You just became a part of Webloyalty’s monthly cashflow, and it sounds like the odds are quite high that you had absolutely no intention of doing so.

The image that comes to mind is of Mr. Frodo, in the bowels of Mordor, having finally succumbed to Shelob, the giant spider’s web, being all tied up into a nice bundle of a meal to be consumed later on at will . . .

Not much fun that, eh?

* * *

Having not been hoodwinked myself, I cannot tell you exactly what the evildoing got’ch’ya coupon says, but, from what I’ve read, it would take a legalese-reading, scam-spotting genius to realize that the coupon automatically signs you up for a $144 a year program, billed at $12 per month under a nicely generic label of “Reservation Rewards” which just so happens to be the name of this particular offer from Webloyalty the company.

They got’ch’ya. And if you are one of the great numbers of people who do not look closely at your credit cards statements, they will go on getting you for a very long time, as in forever.

* * *

There are two ways (at least) to do business. One is with honesty. When you do business with honesty, you want people to pay you for value you deliver to them — nothing more and nothing less — so that you, in fact, take pride in the precise exchange of value delivered and compensation.

Another way to do business is with maximization. When you do business with maximization you want people to pay you as much as possible, period, and, hey, if they happen to be paying you for nothing, then, hey again, it’s a whole lot easier to sell a whole lot of nothing than it is to sell a whole lot of something, so money for nothing is your goal.

The problem is that most people aren’t all that happy to pay you money for nothing. So you have to either steal the money, or you have to trick them into paying it to you.

Webloyalty, it appears, is only too happy to do the latter.

Rather ironic, isn’t it, that a loyalty company finds it easy to steal and lie its way into building loyalty?

* * *

If you’d like to know more, here is a list of companies that have done a deal with this particular devil, and who may get’ch’ya if you ever do business with them.

And here, from the horse’s mouth, is a list of Webloyalty’s so-called “loyalty” programs.

And if you’d like to drink from the firehose, here is Techcrunch’s take on it all (and kudos to TechCrunch for doing some journalistic, blog-type heavy-lifting in the name of keeping the Internet honest as it repeatedly goes after scammers who sully the beauty that is, but need not be if left untended, the Internet).

* * *

In today’s electronic world, it is all too easy to never look at your credit card statements.

In fact, the Webloyalty got’ch’ya tactic described above simply cannot work if you pay attention to each and every entry on your credit card statement.

So it takes a vigilance and an awareness on your part to make sure that you aren’t paying some scoundrel company money for nothing.

* * *

So please do look at your credit card statements, and please do be careful of agreeing to anything online during a check-out transaction. And above all, beware strange coupons bearing promises . . .

‘Til tomorrow, then, here’s to your financial health, and may it continuously improve.



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