Today: Beware of “false profits!”

 > The Situation:
Big telephone company. Won’t mention the name. Because the big ones are all pretty much the same. I open my telephone bill (for my Canada/USA toll-free number). A lot of minutes in the previous month. That’s good. People are calling. But, because the amount was higher than usual it prompted me to do a quick calculation of total minutes used, and total dollars billed. Ouch. I discover that I’ve been paying $.40 a minute for calls coming in on my toll free line. Ouch. Ouch. So I call the company. The customer service rep laughed, and said, "Oh, you’ve got a really old plan." “I do?” I said. “Who knew?”

 > The Idea:
The idea is a concept that I call “false profit.” When the service rep looked up my account, she quickly offered to get me on a plan at seven cents per minute. “Great,” I said. “Can you make it retroactive?” “Oh, no she laughed (was I joking?), we’ll start it now.” Can I ask a question? I asked. “When you introduce a new plan, wouldn’t it be a good idea to let your customers know?” "Oh no, we don’t do that,” she smiled. “You need to call in from time to time to see if there’s a better plan." After hanging up I thought, “why on earth wouldn’t they let customers know—or, better still—just automatically adjust our plans downward—and then notify us that they’ve done so?" That way they’d would look like champs. This way they look like chumps.

 > The Risk:

Does the company think that it generates added profit by holding on to savings that it should be passing on to its customers? Savings that would tighten their hold on us—at a time when price competition is picking us off like clay pigeons? if the company was an individual human being, imagine the fun a psychiatrist would have with this kind of delusion. This isn’t real money, it’s false profit. It’s funny money—and it puts the company at risk.

 > The Reward:

Say you love me. Put it in writing. Right there on my invoice. Whenever you reduce a rate, or charge, or add an extra of some kind, don’t make me have to ask for it. Use it as leverage and I’ll reward you with loyalty.

 > The Call to Action:

What about you? Are there any benefits, discounts, breaks. programs, bundles or extras available to your customers that they wouldn’t know about unless they asked? If so, this would be a perfect time to get rid of ‘em. See you tomorrow.

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