Recently I read an article on The Inc.Life by Chris Matyszczyk, about a petty ad-on charge by a major hotel group. This hotel group has decided to charge an additional fee to customers who cancel any booking for any reason in a select number of their hotels. It does not matter what the reason for the cancellation, they will charge a fee.
The word “petty” may be defined as trivial or little, or small. It also can be defined as spiteful, malicious, or vindictive. I prefer to define it as cheap, nasty, and niggling. Perhaps it should be considered as all of these and more. Petty business practices certainly are not good customer service and often will drive customers away. Petty practices never represent Gratitude Marketing.
Very often I find myself writing about those business practices which represent bad marketing that will cause customers or prospects to sever any ties with a business. I know that there are many good practices that show us what we could do to attract and retain clients and foster their introductions to other prospects. However, there are lots of wrong business practices which we must see for what they are, to be avoided at all costs.
Petty charges definitely fall in this category. Practices of this type will not foster a feeling of appreciation from your prospects or customers. They will see us as business people who only want to grind every penny from customers that they can and without any gratitude for the relationship or introductions to other prospects. Unless we are the only source for what the prospects want, we cannot afford to drive away business.
Airlines have become experts at petty practices. Luggage fees, charges for rebooking, even when they, or the weather, may be the reason for the change, upgrades to better seats, and fees for using our frequent flyer miles all have become “normal” practices. Whatever airline flies to our destination may be our only choice, but the hotel that we use may have many competitors. The consumer might very well have a choice with whom to spend their money.
Sometimes a business claims that their “fees” are lower than their competitors’ fees. That may be true; however, why have these fees at all? Would it not be better to advertise that we are “fee free”? Airlines began charging subtle and small fees for services that became “understandable” and were acceptable by many. Then the charges escalated and grew. Who is to say that hotels may not start charging for items like shampoo, towels, and sheets? Are pay toilets on airlines next?
We all need to take a close look at our charges and fees from time to time. Our price for products and services may be the lowest that we can charge, but what do we add for the convenience of the customer doing business with us? Do we charge for shipping or delivery; is there a set-up fee; how about calls to customer service? This list is not a reason for us to impose more fees; it is a suggestion that the price of purchase should include something in addition to our product or service.