Do not hide extra costs in the small print – ever

It is early evening in the sitting room above the BillingViews shop. Autumn is turning the daylight off ever earlier. Drinks have been poured, satisfied, end of the day, sighs have been sighed and the conversation turns to the weekend. In fact, it turns to the next few weekends. The evening becomes a diary session.

This week? Ah yes, London for the IIR Pricing and BSS event – now completely integrated after some full and frank discussions.

Weekend? Normal.

Next week? Budapest for the ETIS Community Gathering. All of Europe’s telco IT decision makers will be there.

Weekend? Ah. Now. Problem.

We need to be in the same place but at different times. We have one car and we need a plan. Train? No. Arriving from Budapest by train, taxi into city, drop bag, pick up other bag, taxi to train station, expensive train ticket…..options?

Ah. Why not just hire a car from the airport, drive it the eighty miles to meet spouse and drop it off in that town?

Laptops were fired up, applications were loaded, wheels whirred on screen and answers appeared. For £30.45 a car could be hired at the airport, driven the required 80 miles and dropped off. Perfect – cheaper and far quicker than the alternative.

Details were entered, addresses verified, pockets were rummaged for credit cards. Numbers were input, expiry dates confirmed, the button was clicked. Confirmation numbers were moments away.

And the previous screen flicked back, and then again.

And there, just above the ‘book now’ button was a small (about eight point) dirty little secret. ‘Please click here,’ it said, ‘to confirm you are willing to pay a £40 excess (plus tax) for a one way rental.’

This, as you might imagine, caused some naughty words to be uttered in the sitting room above the BillingViews shop. So, actually, the price is not £30, it is, in fact, £70.

We have been the victim, yes victim, of this kind of thing before and we think it is very, very bad practice.

Do not, ever, put the hidden extra prices in the small print just as your customer is about to click ‘confirm.’ Never. You will lose customers.

Put the extras at the top, in plain sight.

‘Ah, I see you have put a different drop off location to pick up location. I have to warn you that because your car will end up in the wrong place and someone will have to drive it back, there will be an extra fee. Do you want to know how much?’

Please, use common sense. If you were face to face, you wouldn’t wait until your customer is putting his credit card into the payment machine and whisper to him ‘Oh, by the way, the price you are about to pay is roughly twice what we discussed a moment ago.’ Would you? You might get hurt.

The rest of the evening went fine, by the way, diaries are now synced.

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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