Today's entry in the marketing stupidity hall of fame is for Simon Malls | More Choices - Simon.com. (note the ironic web site name). Simon runs shopping malls.
Last year, Simon sold 6 million "Giftcards". That's a gift certificate that looks like a credit card. This is great news for them. Why? Because 4 to 20% of all gift certificates are never redeemed--which means that if you figure the average one is for $20, they're making as much as $12,000,000 in profit with no effort.
Is that enough for Simon? No way. The Simon card is boobytrapped. After six months, Simon starts deducting $2.50 each month. Which means that if you don't use your card right away, it becomes worthless. The astonishing thing on top of all the other astonishing things is that Simon should want you to not use your card right away... they get the interest on the money!
Simon added all sorts of other stupid features, like an expiration date (cash doesn't expire!) and other fine print charges.
So anyway, Simon got caught. Eliot Spitzer, NY Attorney General, is suing them. Instead of saying, "Hey, this is a dumb policy, let's just overhaul the thing," Simon is fighting back, arguing jurisdiction, putting little stickers on the back of the cards, claiming that now it's okay.
No, it's not okay. It's dumb and it's deceitful. It's dumb because it involves tricking customers (and their friends, the gift recipients). It creates nothing but negative conversations.