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Recently, computer-generated TV ads have hit the airwaves depicting a baffled consumer wading through multiple pages of her monthly invoice from her financial services firm, questioning a number of fictitious-sounding fees. Ms. Consumer then whips her glasses off and gives her incredulous take on this....


Paraphrasing: "You've got to be kidding me! Who sits around all day and thinks this stuff up? Account research fee? Deposit verification? I mean. . . what do these things even mean? (And by inference: why are the fees attached to them adding up to such a significant amount of money? I feel like I'm being gouged here!)"
You're thinking: "Been there. Said that."
It's sad that companies–especially service providers–think they can add to their bottom line profitability by nickeling and diming the consumer to death. For the consumers who take a few moments to really analyze (and many of us seldom do) phone bills, utility bills, credit card bills, bank statements and mutual fund management statements, the feeling has to be the same:

"What on earth is going on here! What does all of this gibberish mean, and why is it adding substantially to my bill?"

After that initial reaction, the one that follows is indignation, if not downright anger or disgust. Talk about a turn-off. It makes one seriously wonder why companies engage in these practices. Obviously they're more interested in short-term gains than they are in building long-term customer relationships, otherwise they wouldn't engage in this practice! Forget the loyalty programs–bonus points and rewards programs be damned if we've more than paid for them.
When you consider how much money companies spend on advertising and marketing/PR initiatives to raise their visibility, image, and to build trust with the consumer, only to torpedo their own efforts by nickeling and diming them, you just have to shake your head. Let's face it: one of a company's most valuable assets are its loyal, core customers. It costs more to attract new customers than it does to retain current ones.
So why can't companies treat their customers with more respect than this?
I'm just waiting for a whole cadre of consumers to stand up and say: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" (That always was a great line!)
Time to stand up and head for the exits to register customer displeasure–that is–time to take our business where we'll be treated with R-E-S-P-E-C-T! There's enough competition out there for our business. . . sometimes we, the consumers, are the force for positive change.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.