A couple weeks ago, I came out of the office at the end of the day and found a flyer stuck under my car’s windshield wiper. In the eight years I’ve been working there, this is the sixth or seventh time that’s happened. That works out to less than once a year, so I suppose it’s not a bad average. But it’s still annoying.
In some jurisdictions, the penalty for this sort of advertising is kind of creative. Instead of a flat fine per incident, they fine you a couple dollars per flyer. Hit a parking lot with a few hundred cars in it and the fines can quickly dwarf any boost in sales.
Those fines exist for one a simple reason: People don’t like it when businesses put advertising on their windshields. A great many people take the flier off their windshields and throw it away when they get home. But a great many more take the flier off the windshield and throw it on the ground before driving away. When I came out of the office that evening, the parking lot was strewn with fliers. I chose a third option for getting rid of my copy: I mailed it back to the offending merchant.
The flier came from Kardo, a Mediterranean restaurant over in the Kings Farm development. I’ve had lunch there a couple times and the food’s not bad. But I really don’t care for that advertising technique. So I mailed a letter off to Kardo explaining my objection and also explaining that I would no longer patronize their establishment. I figured that would pretty much be the end of it.
Some folks just don’t like being told you disagree with what they’re doing. When I got home on Tuesday, my mailbox contained a reply from the owner of Kardo. It was about a page long, but it really boiled down to just two points:
1) Lots of other businesses put out fliers like that, do I boycott them too?
As a matter of fact, yes. I do ignore offers from businesses that leave fliers on my car. I also discard the menus the Chinese delivery places leave on my front door.
One interesting comparison he made was that The Gazette is delivered to people’s houses every week and if it’s a house where the owner doesn’t want the paper, sometimes it will sit there for a week or two until it gets wet and disintegrates. Nobody complains about that. I have to admit, that particular example does have merit, but there’s a crucial difference: most people do want the free newspaper. Every time I’ve seen a business try that, most of the fliers wind up scattered on the ground. It’s not so much an advertising technique as it is a way to litter.
2) They’re a small, family-owned business.
My response to that one is just two words long: So what? Truth be told, I have come to prefer the small restaurants versus the national chains. (Note to California Tortilla: we’re good as long as you don’t put stuff on my windshield.) But a few years ago, another restaurant I liked did the same thing; I didn’t go back to Theo’s for a year and a half.
I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to Kardo.