When You Hard Sell Customers Too Much, They Sort Of Leave

Aggressive sales pitches are a delicate balance between selling customers on what you have to offer and pissing them off so much that they never return. When AMC theaters recently changed their loyalty program from free to paid, employees began to sell memberships too aggressively for AgentG2′s taste. He found the experience off-putting enough that he doesn’t plan to return to AMC. He wonders: did he overreact?

I recently left an email on AMC’s website detailing why they were losing a customer who normally spent about $70-100 per trip to see the movies.

My problem is they have started charging for their customer loyalty program. I don’t recall the exact amount, about 10-15 dollars. It used to be free. So many points for your spending eventually got you rewards in the form of discounts/free stuff. Great. Loved it. They retired the free program and replaced it with the one that charges you to join. I declined. Repeatedly.

The staff has been trained to aggressively hard sell the program. At my last outing to the theater, I was asked a total of 6-8 times by the two staff I encountered. I think my saying “No” the first time should end the selling, but it did not. I don’t like being harassed when spending what is really a optional expense.

A few days later I was called by the manager who was very polite and offered free tickets. I told her I would accept on one condition–no further requests for what should be a free loyalty program. She could not make that happen, so I declined and explained that their short term money grab for the loyalty program fee is costing them a few hundred dollars a year from me.

Let me stress no one was particularly rude at any level of the experience, just very, very pushy and would not accept a simple “no thanks.” Did I over react?

Maybe. The staff were probably just trying to stay gainfully employed. A retail manager explained to me recently that at their store, when selling store credit cards, they’re supposed to offer the card to the customer and be refused three times. If they fail to do this during a visit from a mystery shopper or when someone from corporate is lurking in the store, there could be trouble.

However, if a policy annoys you the best way to deal with it is precisely what AgentG2 did: let the company know, then take your entertainment dollars elsewhere.