Location Check In Marketing: A Lesson On What NOT To Do

Marketers are always looking for new ways to reach the customers. Sometimes it goes to far. Take the case of a friend of mine Jason Eng who recently had an interesting and disturbing experience with a marketer. You can read the full details of his blog by clicking here.

He says: “I recently had an interesting experience shopping for a home backup generator. I had just checked into Lowes using Foursquare and was there to meet up with someone from Lowes to discuss the purchase and installation of a home backup generator. Within 10 minutes of being there, I heard my name announced on the Lowes public announcement system to come down to customer service. When I got there, they handed me the phone and told me that I had a phone call. When I took the phone, I thought it was the representative from Lowes who I was supposed to meet up with, but instead to my surprise it was Home Depot.

The person on the phone asked if I’d be willing to leave Lowes and head down to Home Depot instead. He offered give me 20% off my purchase if I did so. When I told him that the reason why I was at Lowes was because Home Depot could not immediately approve my credit card application he told me that he could take care of that in 20 minutes and to “forget those guys, just come down to Home Depot”. At that moment the Lowes representative that I was scheduled to meet showed up and I politely ended the phone conversation.”

I’d really be interested to hear what Lowes and Home Depot’s PR departments have to say about this. I’ve asked them to comment. First you stalk your competitors Foursquare check ins. Then you call the competitors customer service desk and ask for them to be paged. Dragging a customer across these giant stores to play this game would upset me enough. Let alone you’re cold calling me at a random number to waste my time? How desperate are you Home Depot? We’ll see what their PR departments have to say but this should be a marketing maneuver that should be frowned upon.

Home Depot PR replied “We’ve looked at this, and it appears to be a third party sales associate’s good intentions to win your business gone too far. Without knowing the name of the individual or the store, we can’t tell exactly what happened, but it’s certainly not our practice to ever call a customer at a competitor’s location. Thanks very much for letting us know about this.” We replied by giving them the location and suggesting that logically even though its possibly a 3rd party they STILL would have been hired by Home Depot to do the marketing. We’ll let you know when they reply.

UPDATE 2: Home Depot never replied after we gave them the location data.