GOOD

When Will Companies Learn? How to Avoid a Verizon-Style Fee Frenzy

How can out-of-touch companies stop alienating customers with messy p.r. battles and embarrassing reversals?


Thanks to social media, consumers have a force multiplier to help them combat corporate policies they see as unfair, especially fees. In the last year, we’ve seen the defeat of a $5 debit card fee at Bank of America and the mass rejection of Netflix’s attempt (since cancelled) to split into two different services. The latest victim of this wave of minor consumer revolts was Verizon Wireless, which chose the week between Christmas and New Year's to announce a $2 fee for consumers who aren’t enrolled in an automatic payment plan. An avalanche of consumer complaints—and word of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission—led the company to reverse its position. How can out-of-touch companies stop alienating customers with messy p.r. battles and embarrassing reversals?

Talk to users first. “Why not post it on your Facebook page?” Ron Shevlin, a business analyst, suggested to The New York Times. “Maybe the feedback would have been just as bad, but then you’re seen as heroes for listening to feedback ahead of time. These firms are not reading the mood or living in the real world.” It’s hard to believe that Verizon didn’t anticipate any backlash from this decision, but apparently they’re that out-of-touch. Their troubles are compounded by the reversal, which gives the impression that the wireless giant’s execs got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.


Make a coherent argument. Verizon told users it needed the new fee to cover the costs of processing certain kinds of payments, but couldn’t—or wouldn’t—break down the specific costs it faced. People can be pretty reasonable about paying for a service, but if you ask them to cover costs that you can’t explain, they'll smell a boondoggle.

Don’t use fees as marketing. The implicit purpose of the new fee was to get more Verizon customers enrolled in automatic payment plans by creating a price incentive to switch to a plan that is cheaper for Verizon and guarantees a steadier stream of revenue. Rather than bullying your customers into a new product, sell them on the benefits of your service.

Don’t go after low-income customers. Verizon’s fee was targeted at customers who use cheaper phones or who pay irregularly because they don’t regularly have enough money in their bank accounts to cover the charge automatically; Bank of America’s $5 fee would have applied to customers who didn’t meet certain balance requirements. While companies may think that these customers are the least likely to be able to object, it’s clear they’ve found ways to use the internet to make their voices louder, and even customers who aren’t affected by the fee don’t want to do business with a brand known as a chiseler.

Articles

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Facebook / Autumn Dayss

Facebook user and cosplayer Autumn Dayss has stirred up a bit of Halloween controversy with her last-minute costume, an anti-Vaxx mother.

An image she posted to the social network shows a smiling Dayss wearing a baby carrier featuring a small skeleton. "Going to a costume party tonight as Karen and her non-vaccinated child," the caption over the image reads.

Keep Reading Show less
Health