Say What You Mean

Alice in Wonderland said: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

Well no really I don’t see, but I’m beginning to think some retailers might be following Alice’s lead with the double talk and rabbit holes they are incorporating into their sales pitches.

To all this I say: Say what you mean!

Have you noticed lately that some brands are using similar-sounding and deliberatly confusing terms to make us spend more? And often these come at the end of an online buy when you are already committed to the buying process?

Just yesterday one of our clients needed an imprint stamp for big envelopes. So we went to an online vendor who had promoted these self-inked stamps for $8.99.

Did we want a large sized stamp or a small one? Well for large envelopes the choice was large of course. Now the total is more than $12.

Next, there were a zillion graphic template choices and that part is fun; but draws you into the personalization process. After a few minutes of enjoying instant visual results we settled on our graphic choice and began inputting the name, address etc.

Then the options came. Did we want the ink to be black or a color? Color added to the cost but there were only three ink color choices and blue best fit the client’s logo colors. Then we were asked about including a logo; that too added a few dollars. So far the price was reasonable, but we had already come a long way from the original $8.99.

Credit card information came next, nothing surprising — until we got to the shipping.

There were 5 choices and there was only one that was “reasonable” (remember this is a plastic stamp less than 2” wide).

The least expensive choice was actually called “slow” delivery!

Are they kidding? We ordered online so we could choose “slow” which was a 21 day shipping time!!!! The next option was called “standard”, the next “priority”, followed by “rush+” and “express+”. Huh? Express+ was two days, but $32.75 for delivery!!! By this time it was absurd to proceed and I shutter to think what the “+” part might mean had we continued.

My colleague said recently she’d noticed our courier service had changed their terminology too – express, rush, regular, standard and same day. Really? Would you want a courier to do anything other than be quicker than FedEx? And what was the difference between regular and standard? Rush and Express? Yet each had a different, and increasing price.

Now that I am tuned into this turned around thinking I hear stories of pre-paid cell phones which seem to only connect to “roaming” systems with high charges, or coupons that sound great until you get to the fine print that says only redeemable on Mondays between noon and 3, and only if you buy this one item, only if you have purple hair … (a good idea to read the fine print).

Transparency has a long way to go and I hope this new and improved version of “bait and switch” has a very short life cycle.

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