By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm
As I mentioned earlier today, I recently discovered that I was a newly-inducted member of something called SavingsAce, a discount club that had begun charging me $25 a month. I called it, canceled, and got my twenty-five bucks back. I also asked how I came to be a member, and the rep told me that I’d agreed to join in return for a $10 discount on a purchase I’d made from information provider Intelius. I had indeed made a purchase at Intelius, but remembered neither agreeing to join SavingsAce nor being offered $10 back. So I called Intelius.
That company told me that it had never offered me $10 back, that any dispute I had was with SavingsAce, and that it had never turned my credit-card information over to SavingsAce. The last assertion is, as far as I can tell, an outright lie: The whole point of these offers is that they involve an online merchant turning over the credit card details to a third party during the purchase process.
All of which leaves me feeling like a patsy. At least I have lots of company, as revealed in the U.S. Senate’s investigation of post-transaction offers by SavingsAce and its competitors.
Anyhow, I continued on to research SavingsAce. The program is offered by a company called Adaptive Marketing, which is part of Vertrue–one of the “leaders” in these offers. I checked out Vertrue’s Web site, and found it…amusing.
For one thing, there’s the company’s corporate profile:
“…unrivaled opportunities to improve their lives?” Move over, medical breakthroughs and affordable housing!
Oh yeah, here’s the end of the blurb on Adaptive Marketing, the Vertrue subsidiary responsible for SavingsAce.
I also like Vertrue’s press-release library. Oddly, it hasn’t been updated in 2009. (Or not so oddly: It’s no fun to issue press releases on news like this.) But the company did publish a bunch of releases in 2008. And here they are.
Aid! Comfort! Stuffed animals! Feeding children! Healthy offices! Interns! Etiquette! Keeping America beautiful! Going green! Diversity! Fighting rising healthcare costs! And even an in-office art gallery!
But…nothing involving Internet marketing services.
Is it just me, or is it creepy when a company’s definition of itself as seen through what it deems to be newsworthy has nothing to do with its business activities and everything to do with stuff that’ll make it look like an asset to society?