Old school marketing

We order pizza kind of a lot. We shouldn’t, but we do; it’s easy and yummy and one of the few delivery options we have at our house. We usually get Pagliacci, because it’s delicious and predictable and they have great customer service and even a few healthy options. But every once in a while, we like to switch it up and try ordering from different pizza places, just to see if there’s anything better we’ve been missing.

The other non-chainy pizza joint that delivers to us is called Stacia’s. Stacia’s is quite expensive, but they offer deep discoiunts with ValPak coupons. Now, I hate coupons, and I especially hate unsolicited envelopes full of small pieces of paper. (I grew up a Washington State Hippie when it comes to recycling.) But I get that some older-school businesses firmly believe in the whole direct mail marketing model. And ValPak now has an iPhone and iPad app with mobile coupons, so that helps a ton. Often not every deal is listed there that would appear on a print coupon, but this is a nice little compromise for a nerd like me.

I just fired up the ValPak app, and not only does it have deals for Stacia’s, but it also has a neat little feature where you can export a specific deal to Passbook. It’s a bit cumbersome (and hitchy and takes forever even on a solid Wi-Fi connection), but it’s nice of them to think of that, and I like to think it could minimize annoyance for both customers and businesses, right? Right. Except no. I clicked on the “Disclaimers” link just to double-check, and lookie here:

Sooo, uh, mobile coupons are great according to ValPak, but not necessarily ValPak’s advertisers. Fine. Maybe they’re just extra-careful with these because some customers abuse them? (It’s worth noting that I’ve totally used the mobile ValPak app before to buy pizza from these guys. Maybe I’M the reason they added this fun little disclaimer.)

I called the place up, and asked about this disclaimer. The guy who picked up was extremely befuddled. He said, and I quote, “You can’t just print it out?”

I suppose I could print out the QR code, in theory, but I’m not gonna. A) Our printer keeps conking out from expensive low ink reserves, and I don’t want to futz with it for half an hour to make sure it’s working only to deplete its ink for this. B) I shouldn’t freaking have to, right? The whole point of tha ValPak APP is that it’s mobile, paperless, painless, and your delivery dude even gets a little Passbook QR code to scan. Why print? And C) the guy was kind of a dick about it, so now I really don’t want to comply with his backwards request; I want to muster up the gentleness to coax him into letting me use the goddamn iPhone coupon because it’s 2013.

I explain that our printer isn’t working, that we’ve used mobile coupons before and haven’t ordered in several months (i.e. I’m not taking advantage of some high-tech loophole every night), and that I don’t think printing it out is how this is meant to work. This last bit clearly wasn’t the right tack. He immediately switches to Confusion Masked by Authoritative Dismissive Voice, and says, “Yeah, we don’t do that phone stuff. Paper coupon only.”

Sigh. “That phone stuff.” Why build the tech, why integrate the feature, if business owners are too old-school to learn how to play nice with the new tools? Can’t ValPak train businesses to figure this out? Is there no Unique Pizza Discount Code number I could read to you to have you write down and check against some database (undoubtedly stored in a three-ring binder) so you know I’m not allowed to claim this deal a second time, just as if I’d handed you a piece of paper? Must you charge so much in your base menu that I’m unwilling to conduct any kind of transaction with you unless I have a valid coupon to bring the whole deal down to a reasonable range?

I thanked him lamely, hung up, and ordered dinner from Pagliacci.