Subway is now serving breakfast!
Full disclosure. Subway is not one of my advertisers. I don’t expect Jared’s face will be popping up here any time soon. I don’t get any discounts at the local Subway shop. They don’t even give me an extra slice of cheese or take care to put actually red tomato slices on my turkey sub. I am not at Subway at the moment. I’m home, on my front porch, with no plans to head out to Subway for breakfast now that Subway’s serving breakfast. I’m hardly a regular customer anyway and I’m probably not going to become one now that Subway’s serving breakfast.
So I have no financial or personal stake in telling you this.
I’m thrilled Subway’s now serving breakfast!
Tell you why.
Because this is the first example I’ve seen in a long, long time of a national chain of businesses trying to make more money by doing something to attract more customers and offering existing customers a new service that those customers might actually want, need, and enjoy.
I’ve whined about this before and I’m sure I’ll whine about it again, but the business model the big box stores, and the littler box stores, have pinned their greedy hopes on is, basically, that every customer who comes into the store to spend one dollar ought to leave having spent two.
Customers aren’t human beings who should be given good value and good service for their money. They’re walking wallets that need to be pried open, turned upside down, and shaken until there’s nothing left in them but a library card and the stub of a ticket from the dry cleaner’s for laundry that was picked up months ago.
The usual practice is to cajole, annoy, or trick customers into parting with the extra buck on a “deal” that is not actually much of a deal. This is the Would You Like Fries With That? principle, and, as MaryRC pointed out in a comment the last time I whined about this, it’s been going on for a long time, since well before the Recession. It just feels more common, insistent, desperate, and blatant these days.
But there are places that go that extra mile, and not to serve you, but to try to fleece you. Their goal isn’t to get you to spend more money on something you wanted than you’d planned---the Supersize It strategy. It’s to get you to buy something you had no thought of buying when you walked in the door. Usually this involves trying to pass off as being on “sale” something that if you had time to do the math or make the comparisons you’d figure out quickly was decidedly not.
Which makes every trip to the cash register not the completion of your business with the store but the beginning of a shake-down.
This is what the poor minimum wage workers the company is forcing to be their un-commissioned hard sales force get up in the morning and head out to work with songs in their hearts for---to face long lines of customers who regard them as phony, lying, dishonest, and annoying.
So everybody’s having fun.
Then, the other way the Big Business has hit upon to make money is to charge more for less. This isn’t just a matter of putting a new box of cereal on the shelf that is as tall as the old boxes but half as deep, knowing that most customers won’t notice that they’re buying half as much cereal at a lot more than half the price.
It means cutting store hours, cutting staff, shrinking inventory, turning out lights, turning down the heat and not turning up the air conditioning, and having the cleaning crews in once a month instead of once a week, making shopping more and more unpleasant and frustrating. And if this seems to be driving customers away, then step up the efforts to gouge and con the saps who still wander in because they haven’t figured it out or they have no other choice.
So, in a business climate where when I go to the nearest chain video store to rent, say, Some Like It Hot and have to hear how I can pre-order a copy of God of War III for PS3 for only five dollars down and no savings on delivery before I’m allowed to pay and get on my merry way, it’s nice that if I decide to go next door to order a sandwich I’ll see just a polite and cheerful sign that essentially says, "If you like our turkey subs, maybe you’ll like our egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches too” and “If you’re looking for a quick and tasty breakfast on your way to work or school tomorrow and you’re tired of McDonald’s, why don’t you give us a try? We’ve got great coffee!”
It’s the difference between being told, pretty much, “We think you’re so stupid you’re accidentally spending five dollars to rent a classic movie to watch with your kids when what you really want to do is spend sixty bucks to buy an M-rated video game you wouldn’t in a million years let your kids play” and being asked “Is there anything else we can do to help you?”
The last time I wrote to whine about this, some of my readers felt I was blaming the sales clerks who have to try to sell sell sell or risk losing their jobs. In fact, I’m very sympathetic to the clerks. I think they’re being used and abused. Which is why I always listen to their sales pitches and also a reason I resent the practice---I know what’s going on and I want to help them but I don’t want to encourage their corporate masters. A trip to the store shouldn’t be a guilt trip as well.
Updated late Saturday afternoon: Revelation! Retailers are discovering that if you don’t sell things customers want to buy they stop coming to your store.