Monday, August 29, 2016

What? Read Don't you trust me? I was a choir boy, for cryin' out loud!

My blogger friend Bill posted something recently about getting ripped off by his cell phone carrier.  (You can read about it here.)  It seems he was told a new piece of equipment (a mifi...whatever that is) would cost only $100, plus it came with a $50 rebate.  "Hurry...this offer won't last are limited...better get yours today!"  Turns out there were all sorts of other fees they conveniently forgot to mention.  Well, they always mention them somewhere deep in the agreement  (gotta keep the legal department happy) but in your euphoria with your new gadget you don't think to read the fine print.  Gotcha!

I can't tell you how many times I've seen tricks like this in my business of custom homebuilding, too.  It usually goes something like this:  I quote my client a bottom line price with everything included spelled out IN DETAIL in my 18-page spec sheet.  "Price includes a stainless steel Wolf 6-burner cooking system, Model XYZ-123."  Then my competitor quotes a price $30,000 less and spells things out in his very vague 2-page spec sheet.  "Price includes a stainless steel Gourmet Cooking System."

Money talks, as they say...$30K is $30K!  Then weeks after the paperwork is signed, money has changed hands, and ground has been broken, well past the point of no return, it comes out that, "Oh, to upgrade from your generic Gourmet Cooking Center to a Wolfe 6-burner cooking system, Model XYZ-123 will cost $6,000 more."  And the next week they find out their generic wood floors will be pre-finished.   "Oh, to upgrade to hand-scraped wide-plank #1 Grade oak will cost another $4,500."  And on, and on. 

When the dust settles 8 months later the customer is $30,000 over budget and royally pissed at his builder, but Mr Sleaze doesn't care.  He got the sale, I didn't.  He made the profit (albeit dishonorably), I didn't.  More often than not he'll be out of business a few years later, but he won't care.  He'll just start over again under a new name and rip off the next generation of naive homebuyers...and laugh all the way to the bank.  Like the phone company lawyers all he cares about is staying one tiny pinkie-toe inside "legal", ethics be damned.

You can't believe how hard it is to run an honest business these days.  "Say what you mean, mean what you say" has pretty much gone the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

This, friends, is the new normal.  Right Bill?  

It's a good time to be retired.  (Move over, Rex)  ;)



  1. You are absolutely right. And my stepson has all kinds of horror stories about how the buyer keeps changing and upgrading things but still wants it for the same price as he or she was originally quoted. I'm sure you're familiar with that too.

    1. Absolutely, Bruce. But if they don't want to pay for it, they don't get it. There's no free lunch. :)

  2. When I am told that I need to sign up today, I walk away.

  3. It always pays to read the fine print. And to understand exactly what you're paying for and what you're getting for your money.

  4. I'm always sort of amazed at how companies don't care about good will or word of mouth. Meeting or surpassing what was promised will always get you more customers or repeat customers. Scamming people won't.

  5. Some companies just lie not knowing what the word "unlimited" means. I went to the wall with Verizon Wireless over that one. Someone else, I think, actually successfully sued them over the same lie. fin

  6. Reminds me of those ads from cable providers. $98 per month, if you sign up for two years!

    They won't tell you that the price is only good for the first year, and all the additional fees, rentals, taxes, etc. will drive the price to 50% above the quoted rate.