Please remind me to buy something  from them soon.

My hand was hovering over the trash can ready to drop the annoying looking form letter. What, did I owe Land's End money, too? But something stopped me. Maybe it was the ordinary nature of the note--pathetically free of color or art direction. Maybe the recognizable “Land’s End” brand caught my eye. But in just that one second pause I made myself $100. Or saved it actually.

Land’s End is a well-known web and catalog clothier with retail locations in a number of cities. It sells shirts, shoes, shorts and beach gear to just about everybody except me. Apparently they were also selling plenty of things  to my wife at their Rochester, New York store when we lived there. She remembers entering several Free Gift Card Sweepstakes. And she somehow thought it  would be  fun  to enter my name as  well. This seems to be the only time I have ever been lucky with such things, yet somehow I overlooked the notification of my "winnings." I probably threw the original gift card away without opening the envelope. 

It turns out that Land's End is required by law to distribute gift certificates and cards or their equivalent cash within 6 years or the money has to be turned  over to the state (Wisconsin, I believe). The number of the card they issued me showed  up in their  database as unredeemed. The form letter was addressed to my old Rochester address but enclosed in an envelope with my Knoxville address (hand scrawled by someone who had been "looking me up").

I got all this information after phoning the number provided. The helpful phone  rep assured me  that their letter was not simply some trick to get me to spend money. It wasn't designed to get me onto more mailing lists. No purchase was even necessary. They would actually send me cash if I wanted. Wow. Not only did they track me down to make sure I didn't lose out on a $100 gift certificate I never new I had, they were willing to give me cash instead. I chose the  cash option. And I was impressed when it was automatically deposited  in my bank account within just a day or two.

Now, I understand that rules and regulations mandated Land's End kindly behavior. But there was an earnestness to the letter and a high degree of helpfulness to the lady on the other end of the line. These facts really raised my appreciation of Land's End from a consumer perspective. It also upped my opinion of Land's End as a retailer.

Customer service can be a powerful marketing tool. This fact is often overlooked by companies who will willingly spend millions on pretty commercials but then treat customers like garbage when they call for service or try to make a return. Land's End apparently believes that service can pay dividends down the road. I was  never a buyer of Land's End products, usually preferring the company's well-known Freeport, Maine  rival. But  now I need some shirts and am thinking of paying a visit to And I'll probably spend more than $100 on the little spree.