Financially, times are tough for most of us at the moment and the recent budget hasn't done much to make life easier for cash strapped consumers. But are we missing out on ways to make our household budgets go further?
We recently conducted an experiment to test the findings of our research, which highlighted that a lot of people are too cynical to accept offers and freebies, even when the offer is handed to them on a plate. We placed an approachable young lady in busy bus stations wearing a sandwich board saying "Ask me to pay your bus fare and I will". We wanted to see whether commuters would take her up on the offer, but only about six people in each bus station did so, even when they could see that other passengers had received a free bus ticket with no catches.
When the results of this experiment and our research were published, it really seemed to strike a chord with Huffington Post readers. Some of you thought we were stupid (which we took on the chin!), but no one actually believed that we would give something away without there being some sort of catch involved. To quote one comment, "If a total stranger offered me something for gratis and said "no strings attached", I'm afraid I wouldn't believe."
OK, so the sandwich boards in bus queues experiment was a bit of fun, but there was a serious message behind it. As the founder of a loyalty programme and having worked in this industry for several years, I have been amazed at the number of people who don't claim back points that they are entitled to, thereby missing out on deals and discounts.
It's easy to see where this scepticism has come from, in this age where we are constantly bombarded online, by post and over the phone, with supposedly great offers and deals. But is it right to be cynical about all offers of goodwill or do you risk missing out on real value? Given that there are billions of loyalty points that go unused every year and many more genuinely good offers not taken up, it's clear that opportunities are being missed. You can make these offers work for you, but you have to play the game to make sure you get the best value. So, my tips for the cynical shopper:
- Don't let your points expire. A lot of loyalty points have an expiry date, so you need to use them or lose them. Some supermarket vouchers have an expiry date on the back and many of us save them for a rainy day only to find that the date has passed when we get them out to use them.
If you follow these basic rules you should be able to get the best value from these programmes and make being cynical work for you.