Three time this past month I have been blindsided by unethical business tactics, fraudulent billing or unacceptable business behavior.
In all three cases, when I called out the powers-that-be about their unacceptable tactics, they all said “But the details are on our website”.
- We are slapping you with additional fees, but have hidden it on our website because if we tell you the details up front, you probably won’t do business with us.
- The way we go about doing business is so unethical, we have put it in writing in fine print on a place on our website you know you will never read, just to cover our butt when people are upset
- Our verbal communication skills are so poor, we are leaving all communication up to our website since we can’t deliver it ourselves.
Here are my three stories below. See if you can relate:
White Water Theme Park
I paid $40 per ticket (plus $20 for parking) for my family and a friend to go to White Water water park in Atlanta the last weekend it was open for the season. We had been earlier in the summer and the best part of the park are the seven water slides in the back of the park. We retuned solely to enjoy these rides. The remaining part of the park is for little kids.
We entered the park and made a dash to the water slide section. There was a barrier and a team of employees blocking this section. “This section is closed for the day” they said. Huh?! They didn’t say why.
I went to the front office. The lady at the offie told me those rides would open at 2pm. We waited.
2pm came around and those rides were still closed. I asked to speak to the manager.
The manager told me that because school had started back, they couldn’t get enough teenagers to show up for work. They had staffing issues and therefore had to shut down part of the park.
I asked him how he could ethically charge full price for tickets and full price for parking when a third of the park is closed.
His reply, “It’s on our website.”
We never got a refund.
Affiliate Partnership Gone Bad
I am all about partnerships and people or businesses helping each other grow. But there is no quicker way to ruin a partnership than not being forthcoming about terms and billing.
I recently partnered with a company that offers a very cool app that helps salespeople track their leads, customers and referrals.
I was given a product tour by one of their directors. I asked what the cost was for each user. He told me it was $19 per month.
I thought that was very reasonable. So I agreed to promote this service to my Referral Selling course students.
I recently learned that when my users contacted this company, not only did they tell them that they needed to sign up in a group of 5+ people, they were also told that there is a $300 set up fee.
Not only was I misled, but as a result, my own customers have been misled.
When the director realized I was not happy about their business tactics, his reply was, “But the details about our billing are on our website.”
Junior Tennis Tournament
In the junior tennis world, there are USTA tournaments (only players with US passports can compete) and then there are ITF tournaments (International competition).
Recently, my daughter and several young girls she trains with, got accepted into their first ITF tournament. It was being hosted by our own tennis club and we know the organizers on a personal level.
The Friday of the tournament, there was a small window from 4-6pm where all players had to check in and register.
We showed up at 4:30 to learn upon arrival that the tournament was “cash only” and a photo ID for my daughter was required. What? Who requires cash only these days?
So I had to drive home, get my daughter’s passport, drive to the bank to get cash and return before 6pm.
Upon return, my daughter was warming up in 40 degree temperatures, and she was told my a tournament official that she could not wear pants, could not wear a sweatshirt and could only wear official logos like Nike and Adidas.
My husband had been frantically calling me while I was out getting cash to ask me to bring her different clothes.
When I returned with the money and passport, I kindly said to the tournament staff, “It would have been really great if the coaches could have informed the players and parents of what they needed to know about ITF tournaments since it is so different than the other tournaments.”
His reply: “It’s on our website”
By the way, the link to that website was broken.
Not one player we know knew the rules of that tournament. And at least one player we know lost her spot in the tournament because she didn’t have everything turned in by 6pm.
In the above examples, White Water could have said “Because many of our popular rides are closed today, we are offering free parking today.” – But they didn’t.
The partnership with thee sales app, the director could have said, “Kate, the best deal to offer your users is a group rate. Since there is a $300 set up fee, the group can split the cost – and I can give a group discount as well.” – That was never communicated.
And the tennis tournament – it would have taken 30 seconds for the staff to send a text to the new players a “heads up” about the details. That never happened.
Communicate (Verbally!) clearly with your customers. If you are the leader, organizer, owner, sales rep or director of a business, service or organization, it is your job to clearly communicate all terms, conditions, rules, changes, fees, billing, etc…
Nothing will ruin your reputation faster than blindsiding a paying customer.