Is it really that hard to expect honesty from businesses?

by Emily Jasper on October 2, 2009

Have you seen those commercials for Ally Bank? Where the kids know that the shady practices aren’t fair?

As a customer, you should have a right to understand everything you are getting from a business. It shouldn’t be buried in the fine print, and you should be able to expect honest practices. As we all know, that isn’t the case.

The theme of “no hidden fees” has been pretty prevalent in advertising these days. After all, many people are cutting back. If you want someone to set aside money for a luxury such as a cell phone data plan, upgrade in banking, or your everyday cable, you call out all those other companies who are charging customers the extra few bucks here and there. You show the customer you understand their budget constraints; that you’re on their side.

And yet some of these companies still do the hidden fee-thing. They may give you a great promotional offer, and never tell you that you must discontinue it or else you will be charged. The argument is that “all of it is outlined in your contract.” Look, I’m a pretty smart girl. But I’m not a lawyer. Terms and conditions aren’t always written for the Average Jane. I can only imagine how many regular, everyday, hard-working people get screwed because they didn’t go to law school.

What happened to talking me through it when I started service? What happened to the little voice with the halo saying “let her know she needs to cancel this before this date”? These businesses are built on lies of omission. What does that say?

When I was a sales person, I made it a point to review everything with my customers, especially when it came to costs. People don’t like to be nickel-and-dimed, but they REALLY hate getting extra charges they weren’t aware of to begin with. They can appreciate your honesty as you walk through everything. There’s more trust in the business relationship.

In this day and age, why would you want to continue shady practices? Take a chance, charge the extra, and hope that 1-in-5 don’t notice? I’m sure all those 1s add up, but you also pissed off the other 4. The internet now gives customers a chance to air your dirty laundry. They can contact the company, distributors, property owners, the Better Business Bureau, and then drag all of that across the web. When someone Googles your company name, especially if you’re a small company, do you really want the search results to come up with all the complaints filed against you?

Why can’t we as the customer expect good business?

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.