I’m excited that 2012 is here and consumers are starting to realize that they can win the money battle when they know something is just flat out wrong with a new offering from their provider. Large companies need to begin to realize that the consumer today is evolving. They don’t mind paying a fair price for a good product or service. Sometimes they will even pay a premium if the value is created for them. However, what they won’t put up with anymore are these made up fees that are broadly titled like they are doing something good for the consumer when in reality it is just another tack on fee to add to the bottom line. All companies need to understand that the consumer can handle that prices will go up. They just want to know what it is without any gimmicks or tricks in a straight forward way. Instead, we keep getting these insulting fees added to bills and now we say enough is enough. You’ll see more of this in 2012 if big companies think they will sneak a fast one past us.
Recently, Verizon had plans to charge customers a $2 convenience fee to pay their bills via phone or on line and decided to title this a ‘convenience fee’. Please. . . . have a little bit of class Verizon and don’t’ insult the consumer about doing something you say is good for them when it is really good for you. Just the other day I had to get my daughter a new phone from Verizon and their salesperson sat by my side guiding me through their kiosk terminal that makes the upgrade for you and then sends the phone to your house. When I asked to pay cash, the salesperson told me “You can’t pay cash”. I can’t pay cash? Since when does U.S. currency not work anymore? I had to pull out a credit card to complete the transaction. Now that doesn’t seem very convenient, does it to you? Well, consumers back lashed on the Verizon deal and used social media to spread the word about how angry they were about this $2 convenience fee. Verizon has subsequently shelved it for the time being. To boot, the FCC has decided that they will need to look into the matter.
Bank of America had a nightmare of a time with public relations not too far before the Verizon situation around charging a $5 per month fee to use a debit card. When consumers were dealt with the blow that they would be paying $60 a year just to get their money to make purchases, they fought pack and Bank of America stepped away from the proposed new charges.
For most consumers, it is really hard to keep up with bills. It is even harder to take the time to shop your bills and figure out whether or not you are getting a good deal. However, the 2012 consumer can taste something and know it’s not good as soon as they open up the package. Companies all need to make money and we know that Wall Street has an insatiable appetite to find companies that can grow their profits at 10%, 15%, or 20% per year. The thing about it is that consumers don’t mind paying a fair price for a fair deal. You just have to tell them how it works and shoot straight with them. If you want to earn long term customer loyalty, use the tried and true phrase . . . honesty is the best policy.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc
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Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice and Smart Money Moves to the X and Y Generation.
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