Sunday, May 8, 2011

When Free Isn't Free

All my life my sister has loved Jack In The Box.  In particular, the tacos.  Being a "foody" myself this was a passion I could not relate to.  A couple decades ago my sister moved to the East Coast and no longer had access to the food she was so passionate about.  She was so desperate to enjoy Jack's cuisine she even applied for a franchise but, was ultimately turned down.  The only time she could enjoy the taco of her dreams was when she visited the West Coast.  In between, we would tease her by shipping her empty taco wrappers.  She would actually save them and savor the aroma for weeks!

A few weeks ago my wife and I attended the final game of the Sacramento King's regular season against my beloved Los Angeles Lakers (sad today).  Throughout the game, the PA announcer would call out different sections of the arena and they would win free food from a participating sponsor.  Toward the end of the game we heard the announcement that made my heart leap, "Section 108 has won FREE Food from Jack in the Box!"

Two weeks later I was at the airport picking up my sister.  Within moments of gathering her she excitedly asked, "Can we stop at Jack In The Box?"  Knowing I had saved the coupons I was eager to comply.  As we proceeded through the drive through window I proudly handed the clerk my coupons.  It was at that moment she humiliated me with this statement, "I'm sorry sir, I cannot accept these coupons unless you've purchased a beverage".

What?  The food wasn't FREE unless I PURCHASED something?  Okay, I get it.  You make a huge profit on selling flavored high fructose corn syrup but, what's really better for your business, to make a couple dollars today or have customers who love you for life?  I don't normally go to fast food restaurants.  You had this one chance to make an impression and delight me.  Instead, you made me angry.  Guess what Jack, I won't be back!

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