Borders Employee: I Don't Want To Mislead Customers To Sell Rewards Cards

Reader “Ann” works at Borders, and wants Consumerist readers to know that many employees there find the constant flogging of the rewards program problematic. Ann, for one, found a sales script that employees are encouraged to use so troubling that she wrote in to Consumerist about her concerns.

A while back, you wrote about how the Borders Rewards card could be worthless if the company went belly-up. I want to add a new wrinkle to the story that throws a questionable ethics aspect to the mix.

As a Borders employee, the DM in my area has gone extremely nutso in Borders Rewards Plus, and has started to threaten to fire people who don’t make numbers (yet completely ignoring the fact that Borders has gone into Bankruptcy, and that our reputation has gone into the shitter, among other things and technicalities that I won’t bore you with as to why our numbers are bad). Recently, we got a “Script” from the “Top Borders Store” in BRP card sales in order to “help us” sell more cards. What I read was shocking to say the least.

To give a basic understanding of the program for those not in the know: For $20 per year, you get 40% off Hardcover Bestsellers, 20% off selected titles, and 10% off the rest, excluding Magazines, Gift Cards, and E-readers. That 10% also can be applied on top of sale prices and coupons (i.e. you have a 40% coupon, and you can get an additional 10% off of that). You also get free S&H on (Tip: You can get Free S&H from Borders if you ship to a store without a BRP card).

The rolling promo right now is you get, upon signing, a “bonus” of a $100 coupon book and $10 in Borders Bucks (aka store credit) to use in April. If you’ve read right, in some cases, Borders is literally hemorrhaging money with this program for no gain or even negative gain at the time of activation (one past promo illustrated this point home drastically; at one point, you could “make back” the $20 fee or more via Coupons and Borders Bucks in as little as a day if you played your cards right). But thats not the bombshell.

Notice I underlined per year; this is important. According to the “script” provided to us from this top-selling store, one of the lines makes mention of a “one time fee of $20 for BRP.” Now, read those three words again: “one time fee.” What do you infer from those words? To me, that indicates to me that the fee is a one-shot deal and I don’t have to worry about paying the fee ever again. Yet, the literature and training we did specifically indicates that you need to renew the fee every year. The script also had a few other anomalies that I also found questionable, but the main one is the yearly fee thing.

So, i’m a bit confused: is that store getting big numbers because they are outright lying to customers about the fee and program (one shot vs. yearly renewal) and in a years time, it’s SURPRISE time, or are their customers just insipidly stupid and they have the best luck in the company right now? Has anyone up above audited them over this, or are they blindly looking at the “worthless” BRP memberships rolling in as something to gloat about? But that’s not the only problem with the program.

It also doesn’t help that the promotional material we’ve been given is absolute crap as well. Our “shelf talkers” only has a simple “Borders Rewards Plus (in small print) Save 10% off everyday” on them. Yes, people have come up and berated me for not giving them their “promised” 10% off, and even have gone mad over being told you need to pay $20 for the privilege. And the signs behind the counter is about as vague as the Tsunami’s that hit elsewhere from Japan. The only info that is “out there” for people to see about the program, are mats at the cash register. A sign of sorts, with a LINE FORMS HERE notation on top, that can be attached to a fixture away from the registers, that summarizes the program while people wait in line, so they can look at it and be informed of the program beforehand would be nice, but all we get is vague a/or deceptive signs and info about the program that doesn’t effectively help sell the cards.

So one has to ask, why is Borders using and allowing such deceptive tactics?

A maniacal focus on selling rewards cards above all else? The rewards card is actually a good deal for people who shop at Borders enough, but the “one-time fee” working is confusing, even if unintentionally so.

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