Nobody likes receiving junk mail. Most of the time it’s related to products or services you’d never have any interest in. Double glazing? If I needed some, I’d be looking around for prices myself. Do I want up to 100mb broadband? If I did, I’d switch. Do I want a pre-approved Vanquis credit card? No, I do not.
Ordinarily, any junk mail received goes straight into the bin, simply because I’m the type of person who’s capable of finding a product or service myself without being prompted or reminded of what I probably need.
Every now and again, I receive a letter from Vanquis, trying to get me to take out a credit card with them. I’ve always felt that Vanquis are a bit sneaky, in that their letters look very important and as though they want me to apply specifically. In a way, it gives me a sense of well-being.
Yesterday, I got home from work and found a gold envelope on my porch floor. It was another letter from Vanquis and it looked as though it had been sent via special delivery. I was intrigued, but only because it looked as though I’d been sent a credit card and I was curious as to how this could have happened.
I picked up the envelope, which was pretty thick. I bent it around a bit but there was clearly no credit card within, so I stopped worrying about the possibility that someone was applying for credit cards on my behalf.
Upon closer inspection, the special delivery label attached to the front of the envelope wasn’t a label at all- it had been printed on the envelope. What is the purpose of this?
I can only assume that it’s a deliberate attempt to mislead by making the letter appear much more important and personal than it really is. Similar tactics are no doubt used on a regular basis by all kinds of different businesses, but Vanquis‘ attempt seemed more deliberate and more sly somehow. I wonder how many people complete the enclosed application form simply because the envelope it arrived in looked very important?
My “priority invitation” was clearly labelled as being from Jane Farmer. It seems logical that if Jane Farmer is high enough up the ranks to send me a “priority invitation”, she’d have her own email address within Vanquis. As this email address isn’t included on my “priority invitation”, I composed a simple email and sent it to every combination of email address which could possibly belong to Jane Farmer. My email read:
You kindly sent me a priority invitation to apply for a Vanquis credit card. Printed on the envelope was a pretend “special delivery” label, but I’m unable to work out why you would do this. Is it to deliberately mislead and imply that the priority invitation is much more important than it really is? I look forward to you response. Thanks in advance.
I sent this email to the following email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Do you know how many delivery failure notifications I received? The same number as the number of email addresses above. Either Jane Farmer doesn’t exist or she has a middle name. Very cunning.
I managed to speak to Customer Service, who confirmed that Jane Farmer does exist and that she’s the centre manager for Customer Service in Chatham, which is the address on the prepaid envelope. I asked to speak to Jane, but apparently she can’t be contacted by telephone.
Despite being a centre manager, Jane Farmer has no access to emails or telephones, which is odd to say the least. In fact, I’m beginning to think that perhaps she’s being held captive in a cell at Vanquis Towers.
Either that, or she doesn’t exist.
Seeing as I was so unsuccessful with my emails, I decided to contact Vanquis through their website. I’ve simply asked why they’ve printed a fake special delivery label on the envelope which contained my “priority invitation” and queried whether or not it was a deliberate attempt to mislead or cause confusion. I await their response.
I’ve also contacted Visa through their website to ask them if they’re aware that Vanquis are using their logo (which is much more prominent on the envelope than Vanquis‘s own logo) on unwanted, possible intentionally-misleading marketing material. I await their response, too.
Oh, and because I genuinely do believe that this is a bit of a naughty marketing ploy, I’ve submitted a complaint to ASA about it. That’s another response I’m waiting for. As usual, I’ll update you with any reponses I receive.
After obscuring any reference numbers or mention of my name within the “priority invitation”, I neatly popped it all into the prepaid envelope which had been included. On the prepaid envelope I added the words “priority mail” and “super, mega urgent” in the hope that it would find it’s way back to Vanquis as quickly as possible.
There was still a little bit of room left in the prepaid envelope, so I inserted the original envelope along with a couple of pizza menus which I also received yesterday. The prepaid envelope has now been posted back to Vanquis.
As a final show of appreciation for Vanquis‘ misleading junk mail casting a shadow across my letterbox, I have copied the information from the front of their prepaid envelope. I happen to have a shitload of plain envelopes which I stole from the stationary cupboard at work, so I’ve printed the details from the prepaid envelope onto these (admittedly, this has taken a considerable amount of time and used up not an inconsiderable amount of ink). The ink is claimed on expenses from work so the whole exercise hasn’t cost me a penny.
I now have around 50 prepaid Vanquis envelopes.
Every time I receive a menu or other item of junk mail through my letterbox, I shall pop it straight into one of the prepaid envelopes and send it back to Vanquis, who will be paying for the privilege of receiving my junk mail.
The only difference here is that the junk mail which I’ll be sending back to Vanquis isn’t deliberately misleading.