When I started Euroffice and later XLN Telecom, we were startups with no employees facing global competitors such as Viking and BT, respectively. Both were well entrenched market leaders with little concern about startups disrupting their traditional markets.
Our strategy from day one was to take a transparent approach with our customers rather than go with the industry norms in charging hidden costs. But this would have been of little benefit unless we exposed all the hidden costs charged by our big competitors. It worked and we gained the trust of our small business customers while gaining significant market share from the big companies.
You may be able to ‘get away’ with charging hidden costs - even the most established companies do - but it certainly doesn’t provide the best experience for the customer. And it gets much worse when those pricing tactics are exposed by a competitor.
How many times have you fallen for that amazing deal with a low-cost airline, just to realise you’ll be charged for everything from credit card fees to bringing luggage? It’s just like when you find a bargain online and are then hit with an extortionate delivery price. What at first seems to be a great deal ends up leaving a bad taste in your mouth.
Some office supplies companies are charging for completely useless services. Many apply an optional insurance fee when delivering orders, when the truth is the company itself will be liable for damage before or during delivery.
Utility and mobile phone companies are notorious for getting more money by locking customers into long contracts with hefty fee to switch suppliers. Their pricing schemes are so complex and opaque that you are unable to compare tariffs nor understand their notifications of price hikes.
Do you really want to use sneaky tactics to get more revenue? My advice is to be open and honest with your customers from the start. Your aim should be to keep your customers happy, and they will pay you with their trust, repeated custom and positive reviews. In the long run, sneaky fine print will come back to bite.