We're all serfs, I'm sorry, I mean targets, I'm sorry, I mean customers of one or other of the big six tech companies.
We slip into their divine systems, and we can't get out.
Still, I know where I stand with them -- more or less -- and I dutifully upgrade my iPhone and constantly use Microsoft 365 because, well, that's what I do.
Yet there I was, staggering through the week when I received an odd email from Microsoft.
The subject line was: "Exclusive offer from Starbucks."
I was a touch thrown. Why was Microsoft emailing me about Starbucks?
I opened the email, and the headline read: "Thanks for being a Microsoft 365 subscriber."
I stared in wonder. Was this some oddly gauche attempt at being nice to me?
Well, the next lines read: "Treat yourself to a free Starbucks beverage with your Microsoft 365 subscription. It's easy; just click redeem to add 150 Stars to your Starbucks Rewards account and enjoy. Stars may take up to 24 hours to show up in your account."
Please, I've had a 365 subscription since Pluto was last a planet. Why would I want to treat myself to some sort of caffeinated drink in order to add to the experience?
Still, I was charmed. Microsoft wanted to buy me a coffee and, wait, why now? Why specifically on August 26? It hadn't, to my knowledge, ever offered to buy me a coffee before. Or, indeed, anything.
I scrolled down further and found a clue.
Microsoft has chosen to list my personal details. My account name and the date of my subscription renewal.
Oh, look, it's September 1. (I truly had no idea.)
Could it really be that Microsoft had suddenly worried that I wouldn't renew? Could it be that someone at Microsoft thought a luscious Frappuccino would tip me over the edge toward continued loyalty?
Would anyone rush to their local Starbucks to get a free drink and feel better -- or, indeed, worse -- about renewing their 365 subscription?
These thoughts coursed through me like a manic hiccup. But then I read the terms and conditions, conveniently placed at the bottom of the email.
They began: "Valid from 12:01AM PT August 1, 2021, to 11:59PM August 31, 2021, while supplies last."
So the offer was almost over, and this was the first I'd heard? While supplies last? Starbucks has, indeed, been short of some supplies lately.
I only had a few more days to get my free coffee? I couldn't even get it after I renewed my subscription? I couldn't get it if I didn't renew my subscription? I had to get it in the next four days. What fresh hell was this?
I was clearly overcaffeinated but ploughed on.
"Offer redeemed as 150 Stars at participating Starbuck stores," the email continued. "Stars cannot be redeemed for alcoholic beverages or multi-served items. Visit Starbucks.com/rewards for details on the Starbucks Rewards program. Available only to current Starbucks Rewards members, Microsoft 365 Home or Personal subscribers in the United States."
My first impression had been deeply mistaken. This wasn't exactly an offer of a free coffee. This was an offer of 150 stars added to a Starbucks Rewards account, which I don't have. So no free coffee for me unless I open a Starbucks Rewards account? This is all so confusing. If I'm a Starbucks Rewards member but not a 365 subscriber, do I qualify?
This is not the way to make me feel so uplifted that I renew my Office 365 subscription.
I'm incentivized by companies, as we all are, seemingly every day. Most often, it doesn't go well.
But I look at this attempt at inducement and wonder how many will be moved.
Truly, I'm not sure everyone at Microsoft is moved.
For reasons that I still don't quite understand, my Microsoft Hotmail account marked this email as potential spam.