Pizza Gone Wrong

Say you’re a local manufacturer of tasty, upscale frozen pizza.

And say you’re looking for a less fraud-friendly way to send coupons to customers who sign up for your Pizza Family newsletter.

Here is how to make your less-fraud-friendly method downright unfriendly to the people you’re trying to make nice with: don’t tell folks already on your mailing list that something new is coming, and don’t bother beta testing this new process on friends and family before going public.


  1. Send out an email with a link to the coupon, but the link takes recipients to the store locator page instead.
  2. The next day, send out an email declaring COUPON NOW AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD. This time the link takes The Customer to a site that says since The Customer has not downloaded coupons from us before–even though she has been downloading coupons for at least two years–The Customer will have to download a special program to print the coupon. {Hello? Is it not a basic principle of internet security that one does not install programs they have not gone looking for? Has no one in PizzaMarketingDepartment heard of the word malware?}
  3. When The Customer calls the toll-free line, have a customer service rep assure The Customer that yes, it is a legitimate email from PizzaManufacturer even though the long header on the email indicates it originated with The explanation is that “We’ve changed the coupon printing process.”
  4. Ensure that if The Customer decides to download the software, there is nothing about the system requirements in the instructions. That way, when The Customer presses the Print button, the result is a blank screen for 15 seconds, and then the Download/Print page pops up again.
  5. When The Customer again calls the toll-free line, have a different customer service ask what browser is involved, and then tell The Customer that the coupon-printing program does not work with Firefox, and whenever The Customer wants to print a coupon, she’ll have to change her default browser to Safari (if she has a Mac, which The Customer does).
  6. When The Customer finally gets the settings adjusted so that clicking on the email goes to the appropriate site via Safari, have the customer be rewarded with the message Sorry! You have already printed this coupon the number of times allowed.

The only reason The Customer is not naming PizzaManufacturer is that she was still on the line with the customer service rep when Step 6 occurred, and he promised to send The Customer a replacement in the mail and, more importantly, alert the relevant parties so this could be fixed.

© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

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