Getting Nickel and Dimed to Death for Free!

Free is the word of the day. Free is what everyone seems to expect. “I would like that yes, however, only if it’s free!” or, “I have to pay for that? That should be free!” And on, and on it goes picking up steam in every transaction, every inquiry, and yes, every sales ploy. Personally, the more I hear the word “free” the more convinced I’ve become many businesses no longer have a real value proposition to offer. But wait…There’s more!

Now that customers have seemingly bludgeoned retailers, or any other enterprise with the expectations of “free.” A new, and wonderful old tactic is coming back with fervor. No problem, you wanted all those things for free? Great! Now be prepared to get nickel, and dimed to death! Ah, that’s the ticket right? I don’t think so…

Let’s be honest, free as a real promotional tool can be useful. But it has to be used when free is really an extra, a cherry on the sundae, a way of giving something of true value because of special pricing, or whatever the reason. A deal that only you can provide because others are not be able to. Something that makes a real differentiation in your offering. Not the tired, worn out, “Buy 3 tires, get the 4th Free!” ( yes, pun intended.) But now you’ll charge me $5.95 per tire stem cap to make up for any so-called discount received in the “free.”

Recently my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful weekend at a hotel/casino complex. This is where “Free” is the word of currency. Free this, free that is all you’ll hear. But when we were in our rooms, use the telephone for a local call, better get out the safe deposit box, this is gonna cost you. Wi-fi in the room? Free at Starbucks, an arm, and a leg here. Oh wait, you have 2 devices? No problem. It’s just double the price. When I inquired on why I had to pay again for another device even though we are in the same room ( we each had an iTouch, but needed to pay twice for both to work at the same time! ) the reply was, “Sorry Sir, but that’s the way our system works.” Quite a system I said to myself. Sounds more like forced retribution if you ask me. I thought the slots were the bandits. Holy Moly!

This is occurring everywhere you look nowadays. And I don’t think it’s helping either business nor consumer in the end. It’s become a shuck, and jive way of giving perceived value with no value. It doesn’t work. But it seems to be picking up steam. It used to be nickles, and dimes or even at times free to have someone get your luggage. Now if you want to take a piece of luggage, haul, and load it yourself, just so you might have a clean pair of socks. ( because that’s what you do when you travel.) It’s now $50 buckaroo’s, and It looks increasingly like you may need to check that carry-on also. It appears 2 inches too large per the newest criteria change. Oh so sorry you weren’t aware they changed the size last week. It was posted on their “Free” website. You should always check there to make sure you don’t run into a new 2nd bag fee. OUCH!

Well we can at least enjoy the free peanuts I guess. Oh wait, what’s that gonna cost me?


© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved