"I just called in to check the weekly LEGO Shop at Home phone specials. Unfortunately, this program has been discontinued. There will be no more phone specials. This was confirmed by speaking to a second LEGO customer service representative. -- Dominic Gruetzmacher"
When I first got out of my dark-ages, I learned that the Wednesday S@H Phone Specials was a great way to buy sets at a discount. Sets where generally 50% off and shipping at the time was free (shipping was free on all items ordered from S@H at the time). LEGO web-site wasn't the place to shop for deals, and the phone-in specials weren't advertised on it -- either you called in to ask what the specials where or that information was posted on LUGNET... The draw backs were, you had to ask for the specials over the phone in order to get them & if you didn't call early, the sold out fast... There were other problems, like the LEGO web-site in-stock numbers didn't jive with phone system -- LEGO has made some vast improvements with ordering on-line vs. phoning in a order.
But this is sad. I'd almost wish that when an item goes on sale on-line, that the web-site would impose a limit per household at each price point -- it drops 25%, you can order up to 10; it drops to 40% you can order 5, etc. I'd be more incline to shop for deals off of LEGO's web-site, instead of feeling like I'm competing with "brick-mongers".
With out-sourcing, cut-backs, lay-offs, and a bad economy, I'm guessing this will be the way of things. Phone orders in 1999 were fun to place -- the people were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. But since then, there's been a shift in the corporate landscape to moved focus away from phone customer service to the web, to reducing head-count, and to eventually out-sourcing most phone support overseas. The end of S@H Phone Specials is just another casualty of bad corporate management -- instead of companies looking at the added benefits phone customer support gives (the intangibles), it's treated as a cost center & and bean-counters look to eliminate it.
To be honest, I doubt S@H Phone Specials were effective in clearing out old stock; it could be more effectively done through the web-site. And I think the original purpose behind offering phone specials is no longer valid; since most people have shifted to buying on-line anyway. To me, it just signifies that times have changed. I think it could have been treated differently. For instance, have a daily special -- if the idea is to sell product and place more orders, why not off a daily special with a discount ranging from 10-50% off an item; it would be luck of the draw as to what the special is (again with limits per household), but it would encourage more phone orders.