Ok, you are asking, “What does my business have to do with unethical cash collecting?” To explain this I am happy to share my recent personal experience, so just keep on reading…
Recently, due to my child not feeling well, I was urgently flying back home from a seminar in Melbourne with a major Australian airline. As their frequent flyer member with a return ticket for the next day, I did not expect any major problems. I was greatly mistaken!
I was told I was lucky; the next flight still had two last seats available, but I had to pay for a new ticket. Well, there is nothing wrong with this, except the one-way ticket offer was 30% more expensive than my return ticket. Obviously, our definition of luck was not the same. My great negotiating skills did not move the customer service staff one bit. They could not adjust my existing ticket, point blank. I offered to upgrade with my ‘zillions’ frequent flyer points – this could not be done. I offered to pay cash for the price difference – this could not be done. I requested credit for my unused ticket; too early – this could not be done. Now I was sweating in frustration; it seemed to me, as I was getting more desperate to find a mutually satisfying deal, they seemed to be less interested to even discuss it. It was a “Take it or Leave it” deal! I commented on the price difference – they recommended the cheaper competitor at the next boot.
My luck was still with me. They also had two seats left on the next flight. Their one-way ticket was 35% more expensive than my original return ticket. I asked them about a regular return ticket price – it was 33% cheaper! Well, I was confused. I said, it did not make any sense. Apparently, it did. See, a third (traditionally the cheapest) competitor had their flights cancelled that day and many passengers were switching to airlines for flights (of course they had to buy new tickets). This little temporary crisis gave the airline B the opportunity to gain, so they instantly increased their regular fares to their top fares (practically never used). I was speechless, but I should not have been. Apparently, that is how businesses operate.
As a customer in crisis, I chose the ‘lesser evil’, so I went back to my original airline. 20 minutes after the first encounter with them, they now had ‘only one’ seat left for a special price. My confusion doubled; the price quoted was $36 higher than 20 minutes ago. My comments (the content of which I leave to your imagination) were met with their firm, “This is what the computer is saying”. The original customer service man (sitting next to the customer service woman serving me now) was saying he could not remember quoting the first price. ‘Impossible,” he said, ‘the computer doesn’t make mistakes”. ‘Take it or leave it’, they did not care. With great frustration and very intense emotions for the service people and the airline company, I handed them my credit card.
While boarding I was trying to visualise the treatment non-frequent flyer members get with this airline. Once inside the plane, my confusion quantum leaped! One third of the seats were empty!
I asked the flight attendant the ultimate question, ‘Have all the empty seats been booked?’ The look on her face said I was not quite there, but she only said, “…They are obviously available!”
“I can see that, but please forgive me for my confusion. I was told 25 minutes ago when I was purchasing it that my seat was the last available.” Now it was my turn to watch her face. “Sorry, but we have nothing to do with the ticketing area,” was the short reply.
Now, can you see how these hidden cash collecting techniques might have things in common with your business?
Unethical cash collecting is not necessarily connected to the unethical debt collecting practices.
It is surprising how many well known companies around the globe use the unethical cash collecting techniques to boost their cash flow, starting with skyrocketing bank fees to ‘on the spot purchased’ airline tickets.
The monetary gains from these practices are potentially billions of dollars for multinational companies – banks for instance. However, is this kind of business really the way to go? Would these companies still make a handsome monetary gain, plus something more valuable like clients’/customers’ trust by weeding out all unethical cash collecting techniques?
Now, ask yourself if you are making these 10 mistakes in your business:
1. Is your business built on ethical business codes?
2. Do you put care/service of your clients as the top priority in your business?
3. Do you look for quick opportunistic monetary gains disregarding what your clients want/need?
4. Do you put the monetary gain before the clients’ trust and your business integrity?
5. Do you have enough flexibility in dealing with your clients?
6. Do you properly disclose and warn clients/customers of admin / late penalties?
7. Do you sell your products/services at different prices to different people?
8. Do you believe that your clients are not comparing their notes with others?
9. Do you believe that you need to be a cutthroat businessperson to be successful?
10. Do you charge for your products/services months before they are supplied/used?
All of these little practices might seem like a standard way of doing business, but remember that the 21st century is the era of information. Bad news travels fast and is powerful. Consumers are becoming very informed, and with the rise of the internet, they are starting to weed out bad business practices by publicly exposing them to others. Would you rather weed them out of your business yourself and lead in your field by example?
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