Thursday, 24 January 2013

We Want Your Business But…

So, the other day, a telemarketer called. I had purchased something and ended up with a “free three-month trial.” (Oooo…) Now they had a six-month special (only $4.95/month instead of $14.95) if I would give them my credit card number right now. The conversation went something like this:

Me: But I’m not sure if I want to subscribe for another six-months or not.

Telemarketer: If you don’t, you’ll be paying $14.95.

Me: Not if I don’t re-up after the three months is up. Besides which, I know what will happen. After the six months is up, you’ll start charging me the $14.95 unless I call you to cancel, which most likely won’t happen as I’ll forget about it until I see the next bill. Then I’ll be on the phone for hours trying to get a refund and it cancelled. Can I pay by check?

Telemarketer: Of course, you can pay by check. We will send you an invoice, but so you know, you will be charged a minimal fee of $2 for paying by check.

Me: What? You are going to charge me $2 for paying by check when you are soliciting my business? Seriously? I own my two businesses, and I don’t charge people for patronizing them, especially if I’m asking them to buy my products.

And this type of thing drives me nuts. We want your business but we are going to charge extra for that business if you wish to pay by check. What? I like paying by check. I’m not a fan of charging up my credit card. I know this has been going on for some time, but the principal of it irks me. When did it become okay for businesses to charge a customer for using checks to pay their bills?

For instance, take car insurance companies. They’ve been doing this for years. If you pay in increments, you are charged more. Okay, I get that. This is to encourage you to pay for an entire year upfront. However, why am I being charged a $2 processing fee if I pay by increments. Isn’t processing just part of business expenses? Heck, they even charge that if you use a credit card.

The same thing happens with the bank. I like getting my checks returned, but I can’t get them anymore. I can get copies of my checks back for $2/month fee. So, it went from that being part of my statement to having to pay to have copies all on one or two sheets of paper returned? Are they or are they not my checks? I mean, didn’t I have to buy them? I’m okay with buying them, not so much with paying to have them returned to me. And the banks are pushing to go paperless with statements--to save the environment… like they really care. It’s about saving the money from printing and mailing those statements. You can print them yourself, of course, but if you don’t, they only keep three years online. Statute of limitations is seven years. Of course, you can get the older statements… for a fee. (Most likely $2, but, hey, when you need them, only $10/statement.)

How much can we screw you without you leaving us? Apparently, quite a bit, as all of them do the exact same thing. When something is required either by law or just to live (not that you can’t live without a bank account, but it sure makes life a lot harder), choices are slim and their “we want your business but” is legal highway robbery. All right, so $2 isn’t highway robbery, but it adds up quickly and, in my opinion, shitty.

Of course, I can live without the subscription, so, yeah, the answer is no.


Bernadette Phipps-Lincke said...

Service fees. It's like Don Henley said in that song: "A man with a briefcase can steal more money than any man with a gun."

Anthology Authors said...

Don Henley's got it right, Bernadette. Those fees are ridiculous. You know they have put your money in some fund where they earn interest.