When free is not free

I don’t usually use my blog to rant, and I hope readers won’t be too quick to judge. But I am getting frustrated with businesses who use “free” as a ploy to get you to sign up for a product or service. Especially when it’s not free.

Borrowed from goodhousekeeping.com
Borrowed from goodhousekeeping.com

Some say, “Nothing is free.” I know; it’s something that was ingrained in me since I was a kid when mom and dad had to work magic to pay their bills.

But that’s not really true either, because some things are free. Free samples, free promotion items, and other freebies can be found if you look hard enough.

What bothers me most is when businesses advertise “free” products and services, and then require payment information so you can start your “free” trial. If you forget to go in and cancel the service, they automatically deduct it from your account or charge your credit card.

That’s a complete turn-off for me. I’ve been taken a few times, so if I’m asked me for financial information right away, I click out of that site and look for another. With so many online businesses, I can usually find what I need without the hidden costs and rules.

Some people believe that anything goes when it comes to running a business. They do whatever they need to do to attract customers to their website, even if it means deceiving them.

Maybe it makes me frustrated because I’ve been burned so many times. When I was a naive internet user just starting out, I trusted that businesses were my friend, who had no intention of screwing me over. Now that I know better, it just makes me angry.

As a business owner, I am always looking at different ways to attract customers, but deceiving customers is not one of them. I am upfront with them because that’s how I would like to be treated. I tell them exactly what they’ll be getting and how much it will cost so they will trust me. A good customer relationship is crucial to any business.

I know…business is business. Everyone is trying to make a buck. And now that the internet makes it easier to conduct business online, the competition is more fierce than ever. I’m sure someday there will be “rules” for businesses on the internet, but for now, they can do pretty much whatever they want.

But now that customers are getting smarter and aren’t as trusting as they once were, internet business owners need to look at that trend and ask themselves what’s more important; getting customers the reputable way, or making money unethically.

 

 

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