August 3, 2010

Do Your Clients Feel Cheated?

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Your clients may have difficulty leaving you, but that doesn't mean they're happy or believing you.

We'll use mobile phone rates as an example.

Here's a text message that Bell Canada sent me when I entered the United States on a recent trip:
Free Bell Msg: While travelling in United States STD roaming rates are $1.45/min, $0.75/sent txt msg & $51.20/MB for data
The data rate is shocking, especially in 2010. US partner AT&T's new monthly charges for mobile data are
  • $15 for 200 MB [Bell roaming costs: $10,240]
  • $25 for 2 GB [Bell roaming costs: $102,400]
At least the text message was free and sent before any charges were incurred. My Blackberry is set to turn off data while roaming. That's an ideal since applications running in the background could Bell US roaming rates (click to enlarge) inadvertently run up hefty bills.

If you click on the screenshot to the right, you'll see the Bell website doesn't disclose the mobile data rates clearly or offer a travel bundle. What's the meaning of "billed according to US roaming rate"?

Actual Size

Maybe the data rates make sense to Bell and AT&T but how would you feel if you received an expensive surprise on your next phone bill?

In three days, a traveller created a $7,763.70 bill before service was cut off. The reader comments aren't sympathetic to his I'm-ignorant-give-me-a-break argument. However, the bill was reduced to only $2,000.

Your Clients

What do your clients think about your prices?

They may not tell you. They may not even leave you because of the hassle or cost. But would they recommend you? Would they share their woeful tale?

It's risky to underwhelm clients. There's so much information online and so many opportunities for feedback. For example, websites like The Consumerist or bloggers like Ellen Roseman have many reader comments.

Differential pricing gets spotted easily. Did you get Microsoft Office 2010 yet? The Home and Business edition costs $280 US or $349 CDN (25% more). The Professional edition costs $500 US or $669 CDN (34% more). There's no explanation for the inconsistency.


Maybe you've got solid reasons for an unfriendly policy, high prices or slow service. Maybe hefty taxes or government regulations or heightened security are the true culprits. How about explaining this?

For example, AT&T's iPhone reception in San Francisco may be lousy because approval for a new cell tower takes three years. This wasn't known until Steve Jobs told the world last month. The explanations may help the affected understand.

In my case, I survived 75 hours without Internet access. There were no withdrawal symptoms. I could have gone to Starbucks with my netbook but didn't even take it out of the case. The biggest consequence was spending more time with my family. Oh the sacrifices …


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