Stealth Inflation: Checking Your Bill For A New Charge Called Oops
from the sneaky,-sneaky dept
We’ve had plenty of posts recently about all the extra hidden fees that show up on phone bills, credit card statements, bank statements, etc. These are often named to look as though they’re required by the government, when the truth is anything but that. The amount of money such fees generate is staggering: “$100 million for hotels this year, $2 billion for banks, $11 billion for credit-card companies – and an average of 20 percent extra on every phone bill” according to this article in the NY Times, which refers to such tactics as stage one of “stealth inflation.” What’s stage two? It’s all of the billing mistakes these companies make – which always seem to end up in their favor. Everybody, it seems, has stories of companies incorrectly billing them, and having to waste endless hours on the phone clearing up the charges. The article suggests it’s a sneaky way of getting more out of customers, but the companies (of course) deny it – pointing out that it costs them much more to handle the customer complaints and corrections. Of course, that’s only true if the customer notices the mistake – and, as someone point out, if it’s just a random error, wouldn’t there be just as many in the end-users’ favor? While it is tempting to believe that there’s a grand conspiracy out there, my guess is that it’s simply bad processes in most cases, as poorly trained workers with bad systems just do whatever they can, and don’t really care about fixing mistakes as they make them – and the systems aren’t designed to catch these mistakes themselves, unless they go in the wrong direction.