Continuity programs have been around for years. Videoactivereport.com defines continuity programs this way: “An infomercial/DRTV product purchasing program that encourages consumers to purchase the first in a series of products, often for a lower-than-normal price, then continue purchasing the entire series for a higher price. Extensively used for music and book series. Concept also employed successfully for beauty, diet and self-development products.”
Given the limited, vanilla, definition; they apparently don’t want to step on any toes.
We discussed one of the most reprehensible continuity programs on the internet, and other types of continuity programs, in an article written on May, 22nd, 2008.
Most continuity programs use the “make sick, make well” marketing approach. They identify a mass audience pain points; wrinkles, yellow teeth, weight, debt, or a need for money and the ability to make transactions with a debit/credit card, and run campaigns that bring the pain, real or imagined from the background to the foreground of the consciousness. Pharmaceutical companies are real experts at making large segments of our society sick; with messaging like this: “Are you feeling depressed, lethargic, or irritable? Then you may be suffering from…”
The message described above is then followed by the “make well”, which is usually comprised of myriad extravagant and spurious promises about the product accompanied by images of people running through fields of daisies on a sunny day. The objective is get you to question whether you have the disease the pharmaceutical company is describing or at the very least, to create a longing to feel like your running through a summer days free and easy. They want you to want the disease.
Internet continuity programs follow the same formula except they will offer a free trial which they’ll send at a reduced shipping rate. They gotcha’ once they have that credit card number because buried in the terms and conditions or under the billing information form (in a light faded gray) is verbiage that gives them the authority to charge your card again and again:
Start your 30 day risk-free trial of XXX Product with a small non-refundable shipping and handling charge of $6.95. If you experience good results and decide to keep XXX Product, you will be billed the discounted price of $79.95 at the end of the free trial period—a 33% savings off the $120.00 retail price, and you will be enrolled in the XXX Product Rewards Auto-Ship program. As a XXX Product Rewards member you will receive a fresh supply of XXX Product every 60 days at the same 33% discount, FREE SHIPPING AND HANDLING on ALL future orders, and additional discounts on other XXX Products. CA residents will be charged sales tax.
If you are not completely satisfied, simply call the XXX Product Customer Care Center and complete the return process within the 30 day trial period, and you will NEVER be billed for the product—nor will you receive additional shipments of XXX Product. You are responsible for return shipping and handling charges.”
Those marketing know that 85% of the people who receive the “free trial” won’t try to cancel in time. 65% of that 85% will allow one cycle of billing before catching on a canceling. And 35% of that 65% will continue to cycle (allow their card to be dinged) by failing to cancel, for whatever reason.
Good luck getting them on the phone.
Re-loadable debit card companies are even worse. They piggyback payday loan forms and using an evil java script, the information entered by the user in the payday loan form populates the debit card form, authorizing that money to be taken from the payday loan for the purpose of paying for the debit card the user doesn’t want or even know their getting.
Oh, it’s a dirty world out there.
Chadwick Matlin, wrote an entertaining article about continuity programs and ugly ads they run. We think you’ll enjoy it.