When loyalty programs go too far

Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to pay for items?

It seems that the rise of loyalty programs has extended the checkout process in all types of activities.  I used to swipe my card, choose the fuel type, and start filling my car.  Now I swipe my card, choose credit, enter in my zip code, say no to the car wash, no to the receipt, no to the loyalty program, then choose fuel type.

You can almost picture the business cases at the corporate headquarters.  “If we just add this one more prompt, we can add on an extra 10 cents of margin per transaction.”

Now don’t get me wrong. In a low-margin business like gas stations, adding 10 cents of margin is real money.  But since my local gas station subscribes to this “let’s add 5 questions to the transaction” approach, I find myself using the one a mile away more often – just to avoid the hassle. It’s not just gas stations. Blogs (not this one!) require answering 10 questions to get white papers and retailers add loyalty questions.  How much business is lost due to hassle factor?

Jimmy Fallon had a great send-up on CVS’s checkout in the following clip. Watch it, and check whether you’re playing the same game.