Perks, perqs, perquisites, goodies, freebies – whatever you call them, you will recognize some or all of the following disappearing perks:
– Airline Travel: Free baggage check; free meals for flights two hours and longer; pillows and blankets; getting to sit next to your travel companion without purchasing a “premium seat”.
– In the Office: Free medical insurance; defined-benefit retirement plans; 401K plans with company match; meetings with lunch provided; free pizza parties; company-provided cocktails at after-work gatherings.
– In Our Lives: Free gift wrapping of your purchases; free checking accounts at your bank; free downtown parking.
Some things we never realized were perks:
– How about calling a company and immediately reaching a live person to help you?
– How about shopping at a large department store and being able to find a knowledgeable salesperson to help you and to ring up your purchase?
– And once upon a time, at gas stations at no extra cost they would fill your gas tank, clean your windshield, correct your tire pressure and give you a free map!
Even the Mouse that we love so well has become less friendly through the years. Before 1998, if you owned even a single share of Disney stock, at no cost you could attend their shareholder meeting, see a movie and receive free passes to a Disney theme park. What do you get today? A free lapel pin. There are still some shareholder perks available but you have to search for them, and they are more modest – like one free beverage at Starbucks.
Science Speculation: Naturally, there’s another side to the story. What has been lost is the freebie given to you by an established company, thanking you for your loyalty and firming up their image in your mind. That has been replaced by another kind of perk, in which a new company offers you goodies so they can learn all about you, in hopes of making money off you down the road.
For every one of these, there’s another company which started with a free service and then, too soon, started charging for it:
– The photo site Kodak Gallery used to offer free unlimited image storage; started charging a fee; and eventually shut down the service and transferred the photos to Shutterfly.
– The geneology site Ancestry.com, also using the name MyFamily.com, used to offer a number of free services but most services are currently subscription-based.
– News media websites started out with free access, but sites such as the New York Times and Financial Times are limiting their articles in hopes of getting your subscription money, and some like Wall Street Journal restrict almost all of their articles to subscribers.
Nevertheless, if you look, there are always new deals or offers to replace disappearing perks!
Do you mourn your disappearing perks? Do you have new favorite freebies you can share?
Drawing Credit: dominiquechappard, on openclipart.org