Let’s Get Direct!

Each week, we’ll distill a new piece of Direct Marketing that we have actually received and break it down for you!

THE BREAKDOWN

This piece showed up in my mailbox on May 6th. The car referenced in this postcard was purchased back in October, and this is the third notice we’ve received from this particular entity. Astutely, I threw these in the trash immediately, but like many households in this country, I am not the only adult in the house. When my spouse saw it, they immediately assumed there was some action required to protect their vehicle.  In other words, it works on people who haven’t worked in the Direct Marketing solicitation game. There are many data providers that will get you intel on consumers, especially when your autombile purchase generates a new line on a credit report. Let’s take a look at this application, shall we?

THE MEDIUM

A postcard; a lovely one-color laser-imaged 4.25” x 6”. The first thing you should always notice is the post mark. The postal indicia, in this case, gives us an indication of how invested they are in you as a prospect. This one came in under “PRESORTED FIRST CLASS MAIL” which means they spent ~$0.26-$0.276 per piece on the postage alone, and there was a minimum of 500 mailed for this batch.

THE GUTS

People often assume that e-mail is the place where you’ll encounter click-bait and scams. Guess what, it’s still pretty lucrative in the Direct Mail space. While this offer isn’t necessarily a scam, it sure is worded and arranged to appear “official” (when it is not) and as though you are in some sort of danger (which you aren’t). Take a look at the language they use on the back of the postcard.

THE OFFER

Their records indicate I haven’t contacted them. Right off the bat, I have to wonder why I would get this piece if I have not initiated contact? They are correct, I have not contacted them about activating my vehicle protection, or for anything else. Further, they claim “safe operation” of my vehicle can only be ensured by their product. For real? Come on guys. The only person responsible for the safe operation of my vehicle is the driver.

THE CLOSING

The only truthiness in this piece appears in the last sentence, where they tell me I am “responsible for all repairs out of pocket.” This connects1 neither to my ability to drive safely nor my engagement with their firm. I’m still not sure what their selling, but the official nature and language tells me they want to get me on the phone.

THE FINAL WORD

While I undertand the tactic here, I can see how some people might feel compelled to react or even call the number. You think this piece is compelling? Wait till a live person tells you that death and destruction will follow you to the grave if you don’t protect your car immediately! I’m only assuming that’s the tactic for live calls. While I did not call, I did do a little digging on the internet. Here’s a sample of some BBB complaints about US Automotive Protection Services:

“***SCAMMERS*** This is another one of those “You HAVE to act now pressure tactic scams”. I should note, the person on the phone (some hillbilly named Keith ext 7029) was extremely rude. He would cut me off any time I tried to respond or ask an intelligent question. Even after telling him he was being very rude he still wouldn’t let me get a word in and reverted back to his “you HAVE to order this now spiel. I eventually hung up on him for not letting me speak. WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t fall for their “you have to sign up today or you’ll never be able to get an extended warranty” spiel. Do your research, and shop around for reputable companies with positive reviews.”

“BEWARE!!!! This Company is practicing such an OUTRAGEOUSLY DECEPTIVE Marketing Campaign that if it as not already Blatantly ILLEGAL….It Surely Should be!!! The following is what they are mailing in their attempt to PRESSURE YOU…the Unsuspecting Public…via FEAR Tactics: 5X3″ double sided POSTCARD. Writ Large in RED: FINAL NOTICE CALL WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS Photo of My Car Model SURROUNDED by 10 different Mechanical parts w/corresponding Costs of Repair…ie: ENGINE $6,200 TRANSMISSION $4,100….etc. NOW… the “BEST” Part! I am copying WORD for WORD here: “Our Records indicate that you have NOT (bold RED!) contacted us to update the factory warranty on your 2019 TOYOTA COROLLA. (also bold RED) In order to guarantee its continued safe operation, CALL NOW. (again in bold RED!) By Neglecting to call now, you will be responsible for paying all repairs out of pocket.” ***** Here’s the problem: I bought this car NEW from the DEALER. It came with the normal 3 year FACTORY WARRANTY…AND I purchased and PREPAID an ADDITIONAL EXTENTION of this FACTORY WARRANTY…FULLY Covering me THROUGH the YEAR 2029!!! *****NOW…. take Another Look at the FINAL Sentence of the ‘HEART’ (or more ACCURATELY…the ‘TEETH’ of this “MARKETING”…..or Rather…..this “THIEVERY” Campaign!: it Reads: “By NEGLECTING to CALL NOW, you will be RESPONSIBLE for PAYING all repairs…. OUT OF POCKET!!! ME: “IS THAT SO!????” FINAL WORDS: “STAY AWAY…. STAY FAR FAR AWAY!!!!!” °¿°”

“Awful crooks – preying on my 83 year old mother – twice now! Combative and rude. Zero stars”

There’s about 100 more, if you want to see some real frustration, read as many as you can! The final grade, as you can see below, is the lowest. Not just because it’s sleazy and slimey and feels scammy (there may actually be value here for a consumer, I just couldn’t find it), the piece itself is also bland and boring, lacks engagement, and creativity.

Mail Fail.

FINAL GRADE – F