Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saving Money On A Price Hike

by Dick Mac

Netflix has raised their prices.

This happens.

Many people are angry and RedBox will likely get some new customers.

Netflix knows that most consumers don't even know how to cancel their accounts, so if a thousand customers cancel, they still make a fortune from the fools who (1) pay no attention to their bills, and/or (2) can't figure out how to cancel the service.

It's not a problem for me, I actually know how to use technology and manage my money (even if sometimes poorly), and I rarely get burned by eConsumption.

I remember a site years ago where an attempt to cancel the service usually resulted in the consumer agreeing to an additional one-year commitment with a cancellation fee higher than the annual rate.

When you clicked to cancel, the page title stated in huge letters: "So you want to cancel..." and the following text explained that clicking a link would show you options; but it did not say that the option to cancel would be absent. You had to have scrolled to the very bottom of this "So you want to cancel..." page and found the teeny-tiny Contact Us link at the bottom of the page that led to the cancellation process.

The wording of the "So you want to cancel..." page was such that a long, small-print disclaimer discussing cancellation went on for scores of paragraphs and actually included a paragraph where you agreed to a contract extension. The final paragraph asked to confirm your understanding and then there was a big green button that said "Agree" and a big red "Cancel." What you were agreeing to, or cancelling, was not clear.

When you pressed "Cancel" you were not cancelling your subscription, but this current process; so you went back to the beginning and followed the same link to the same location. Few (if any) people read the long small-print text, and most would finally click "Agree", believing they were agreeing to a cancellation.

The next page was a big "Thank You for your Subscription Renewal," and a very short, concise explanation that you were good for another year, a phone number to call with problems, and an email link to write with problems; all in a bold 24-point Helvetica font.

As you might expect, nobody ever answered the phone and the voice mail box was full. When you wrote an email you received a polite, clearly written, concise and easy-to-read message highlighting the paragraph in which you agreed to pay for a year subscription or a cancellation fee that was higher than the cost of the subscription.

For the life of me I can't remember the company, but I think it was a well-known company. Maybe one of those ISP-type companies. It was a brilliant business model and it might still be going on.

Fortunately, I do not want to cancel my Netflix. We have the Unlimited Three DVD package and it works well for us. I have used the streaming, but do not have my television wired to the internet and I only ever watched at my desk -- not the way I like to watch movies. So, I am saving five bucks a month by dropping the streaming service that I never use.

Some days you bite the dog!

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