After almost ten years with Sprint, my wife and I changed our cell service to Verizon. There were a number of reasons but the number one factor was cost. In this case Verizon was offering $150 credit per line that I added and the monthly fee, with two new Galaxy S5s, was slightly less than Sprint was offering. It sounded like a no brainer.

Today I’m reading an ad from Sprint, “Bring us your AT&T or Verizon bill and we’ll cut it in half.” Hmm, they certainly weren’t making that offer to me when I was a loyal customer. As a loyal customer, my only option was to continue paying the same I always had and pay a hefty fee to upgrade my phones.

I know that companies do this to attract new business but do they think we’re so complacent (lazy) that we won’t comparison shop. Maybe they think it’s so difficult to change that we’re willing to pay twice as much as new customers just to avoid the hassle. I was concerned about porting my phone numbers to a new service but it was almost the same amount of time as the last time I upgraded my phones with Sprint.

Telephone companies, electric companies, cable companies and even banks, all these companies are making better offers to new customers than their current customers. Who is paying for this? Their loyal customers of course.

When DirecTV advertises that wonderful $19.88 a month deal they’re giving new customers, it only serves to make me review my options for satellite providers and makes me wonder why I’m paying 400% more for less service than the ad I just saw.

True, in some cases, if you complain enough about your bill and threaten to cancel service  they will often offer you a special customer loyalty discount.  Where was this discount before you were planning to change, when you were still a loyal customer?

Have you ever had your cable company tell you, “you’ve been such a great customer over the last ten years, your next month is free?” Never happened to you, did it? How do you feel when you hear them say, “Sign up with us today and get your next year at half off what our loyal customers are paying.” That burning sensation is not customer loyalty.

Consider how your bank treats you. New customers get a much better interest rate than you do. Sure, it’s only for a year and then they have the same fees you do. It makes you think they want you to change banks every year. Is there really a reason not to change?

The message from these long term service companies seems to be that customer loyalty is worthless, customer disloyalty is what gets you the good deals.

On the other hand, retail companies seem to have realized the value of customer loyalty. They’ve created discount clubs to encourage you to shop with them. Where you have choices you see, frequent flyer clubs, frequent buyer clubs, all rewarding you for the amount you spend with them. These companies are actively trying to keep their existing customers.

In the world of on-line gaming they hire psychologists to ensure you continue playing. You can bet customer loyalty is taken to even greater heights. These games will often give you a gift bundle for being active with then for six months, for a year and so on. Yes, it’s all virtual and costs them nothing but getting these gifts throughout the year ensures I’ll keep playing these games.

The trend seems obvious. The less likely you are to change, the more these companies encourage customer disloyalty and force their existing customers to suffer the higher prices. In cases where you can easily change your shopping practices, companies seem eager to create these relationships and reward you for customer loyalty.

In the Christmas spirit, not wanting to end this post on a negative note, I want to applaud one company that gave me a loyalty discount without forcing me to sign up for their club. This year I spent enough money with Lowe’s hardware that they sent me a card worth 5% off any purchases I made in the last six weeks of the year. I don’t even have their credit card. Now that’s a customer loyalty reward.

© Copyright 2014 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen