|You check in but you don’t check out|
I’ve got bad news. Despite what you might think, trapping people into paying you means what you’re offering isn’t that good. What I suspect businesses that do this see, a healthy cash flow with a high barrier to exit. They think the tougher you make it for customers to leave, the longer they will stay, and some are so lazy they’ll just stay forever if the recurring charge doesn’t hit their wallet too hard.
The reality is these types of businesses and their shoddy customer service are causing irreparable damage to their brands – by frustrating customers to the point where winning the argument on principle is worth the time it takes to make a point. Maybe that last part is just me, but there’s still a lesson to learn here.
Not too long ago I had an exchange with a national fitness chain that shall remain nameless, but I’ll tell you the name rhymes with Rally’s Witness. All I wanted to do was cancel the membership which was surprisingly simple to set up but based on the following statements, I was able to infer that Rally’s policy was to prevent people from cancelling memberships at all cost:
- Cancellation requests must be either in email form or handwritten letter faxed or mailed to the company’s corporate headquarters BUT
- Email address is unlisted on website AND
- Phone customer service refused to provide the email address for cancellation and wouldn’t let me cancel over the phone
Brilliant, right? They created the mother of all circular references, a labyrinth in which most would collapse from exhaustion just thinking about trying to escape…but not I. My solution was simple. If they didn’t cancel my membership over the phone or give me the email address to cancel, my next phone call would be to the credit card company and Rally’s could have this policy debate with them.
They gave me the email address.
So what’s the moral of the story? First, company policies only apply to the faint of heart not willing to fight for decent customer service and second, every person I meet that works out at this gym or even considers it will hear this story. If turning customers into detractors or worse, lifelong enemies is part of your strategy than you can ignore everything you just read….
Thanks to +Marsha Collier for prompting me to finish this post by tweeting about another laughable business practice: requiring someone’s credit card info for a free service or product.
The folks that come up with this stuff must think they’re quite clever but what do YOU think? Fair game or shady business practice? Let me know in the comments.