Friday, May 16, 2008

Fool Me Once - Shame On You, Fool Me Twice - Shame On Me

I spent another week in Santa Fe, NM. I have to put a plug in for Hilton before I continue with my story. If Hilton had been taken private last year by Blackstone, I would buy the stock. Now I enjoy financial analysis as much as the next guy, but everyone knows that can only take you so far. Most people make stock purchases with their emotions not their minds. A perfect example of this occurs daily. People don't want to do the research themselves to determine whether or not a company merits the asking price in the markets. So what do they do? They do what Americans do television! A passionate financial guru yells that this company is a good deal and that another is as good as throwing your money in the garbage. And what inevitably happens? People buy the one and sell the other. So enough to justify my purchasing desires. I stayed at a Homewood Suites (Hilton affiliated brand) this week. If you look at the sidebar, you know that I travel a bit. I decided early on that I would be loyal to one hotel chain in anticipation of climbing their loyalty program ladder. Hilton's program requires that you have a minimum of 60 nights on a rolling calendar basis to qualify for their top-tier rating of Diamond. I have reached that rating and maintained it for nearly 2 years now. This is not necessarily something that I'm proud of. But anyway, as a Diamond member you are entitled to complimentary breakfasts, snacks in your room, and room upgrades. I have received the first two benefits on nearly every visit. This was the first stay when I was 'awarded' a room upgrade. They put me in the Executive Suite. It was more like a 1200 SF townhouse. The room even came with a complimentary bottle of California Sparkling Wine. I was impressed to say the least. My favorite was laying in the large soaking tub watching the Jazz play the Lakers on television. Definitely something that I need to look into putting into our own house. Enough on that.

I was working at the same location in Santa Fe near the downtown plaza. The weather was cold and rainy. The new sod on the plaza was green and the leaves on all the trees had started to transform the area from an eerie old historical landmark to an inviting place where one would enjoy spending lunch under one of the mature shade trees. One day at lunch, I was walking around the plaza looking for something to eat. I wasn't too hungry but needed something to tide me over. I walked past the infamous Subway and stopped. I don't mind Subway and now I know how they work their 5 dollar special. So, I decided to try again. The store was packed. I stood in line and looked to the menu to make my decision. To my surprise, they had changed the menu! There were no more checks or circles to look for. The menu had a separate section where it plainly stated which subs were included in the special. To my dismay, they had removed the turkey from the list so I went with the roasted chicken. I chose my toppings, and arrived at the register. The attendant asked me would I like a combo meal. I looked up at the menu and saw that you could add a drink and chips for an additional 2 dollars. This would normally cost near 3 dollars if purchased separately. I agreed. After paying, I sat down to eat and was reviewing my receipt. I thought that Santa Fe (and New Mexico in general) just had higher sales tax. And they do, but the attendant had charged me the full price of the drink and chips separately. Not at the combo deal pricing. As I approached the counter to ask about the error, I overheard the attendant explain to another customer that it was not fair to allow a discount on top of a discount. This is ridiculous! This would make about as much sense as McDonalds discounting their BigMac sandwich to increase sales but then not allow you to purchase a combo meal with it but rather charge you the full price if you were to buy your fries and drink separately. I returned to my seat feeling shamed that I had fallen for a marketing scam related to the allusive '5 dollar foot long'. I can say that I will not give Subway another chance. Quiznos, here I come.

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