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  #1  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:59 AM
The Asbestos Mango The Asbestos Mango is offline
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What's your favorite unethical business practice?

We've all seen 'em, we've all been the victim of one at some time or another in our life. But, really folks, is there one particular dishonest mode of doing business that cheeses you off more than any other?

My personal nominees are...

1) The 89 day wonder. Got its start here in Vegas in the casino industry, but has since spread to other types of businesses. It works like this. You have a 90-day probationary period for new hires, at the end of which, those new hires will become eligible for health insurance benefits. You hire people, then, a day, or a few days, before that probationary period ends, you let them go in order to avoid paying said benefits. Alternately, you hire a bunch of people at the beginning of the busy season, then you cut them loose at the end because they "aren't meeting the standards of service". Nice way to get temporary help without having to pay extra by hiring people through an agency.

2) OK, this one is practiced by a chain of discount department stores, which shall remain nameless. You open up two of your huge discount stores in a smallish community, very close to each other, within a short period of time. After you have driven all competition out of business, you close one of the stores, putting hundreds of employees out of jobs.

3) The Sale that Isn't. You put a bunch of items on sale, with a sign on the rack or even a price tag on the item stating the sale price. Do not have your UPC people program the sale price into the computer. If you're lucky, enough of your customers will not be paying attention as the cashiers ring their purchases that you will be able to reap a tidy profit by increasing the volume of sales of the "sale" items.

4) Bait and Switch. This one's a classic. Advertise a major sale on item that you have only a limited supply of, or (and a music store I worked for did this) don't even have in stock. When customers come in to purchase the "sale" items, or call and attempt to order them, you sell them a similar, but more expensive, product.

Those are mine. What are yours?

Line forms on the left...
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  #2  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:19 AM
grimpixie grimpixie is offline
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Re: What's your favorite unethical business practice?

Quote:
Originally posted by Thea Logica
3) The Sale that Isn't. You put a bunch of items on sale, with a sign on the rack or even a price tag on the item stating the sale price. Do not have your UPC people program the sale price into the computer. If you're lucky, enough of your customers will not be paying attention as the cashiers ring their purchases that you will be able to reap a tidy profit by increasing the volume of sales of the "sale" items.
Ok, the others are dishonest and underhanded, but surely this is just plain illegal? Do they just claim it's a mistake if anyone notices, or does no-one report them afterwards?

Grim
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  #3  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:19 AM
ioioio ioioio is offline
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What's your favorite unethical business practice?

Taking your question literally, I really do like it when salesmen and reps bring gifts -- T-shirts, mugs, silly desk toys, etc. I wouldn't accept a major gift (car, vacation, hooker) in exchange for using their product, but I surely do enjoy the geegaws.
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  #4  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:26 AM
Morgainelf Morgainelf is offline
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I hate negative option programs. You know, "Buy this one item for really cheap, and without making it clear to you we'll sign you up to get another cheap-ass product every month for the rest of your life, but charge you double plus shipping and handling each time, unless you specifically tell us every month not to send it."

Burns my ass.
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  #5  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:32 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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If you have to work 35 hours a week to get benefits, hire two people to work 20 hours a week each, no benefits.
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  #6  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:44 AM
garius garius is offline
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Re: What's your favorite unethical business practice?

Deliberately not re-ordering certain products in order to shift excess stocks of similar products of a lower standard.

Bloody supermarkets. grrrrrrr.

Quote:
Originally posted by lainaf
Taking your question literally, I really do like it when salesmen and reps bring gifts -- T-shirts, mugs, silly desk toys, etc. I wouldn't accept a major gift (car, vacation, hooker) in exchange for using their product, but I surely do enjoy the geegaws.
I'd agree with that - its why I love going to exhibitions and trade shows. Normally they turn into competitions to see which one of my team can get the most unusual/interesting freebie:

Salesman: Hi! Would you like to see a demo of our product?

Garius: Do I get one of those branded pens?

Salesman: Ha ha ha - sure!

Garius: Okay then

Salesman: Okay, well as you can see we are using the new Half-Life engine to power our E-Learning solutions. The benefit of this is that...

Garius (Interrupting): Can I have one of those mouse-mats too?

Salesman: What? oh yeah sure. As I was saying, the benefit of this is that we can convey real emotion to the learner - this is incredibly useful when...

Garius (Interrupting): Are those juggling balls? Can I have one?

Salesman: um... yeah. go for it. Where was I? Oh yes... this is incredibly useful when you need to deal with issues such as one-on-one meetings and...

Garius (Interrupting): You know what? I really like your tie...
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  #7  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:51 AM
Finite Elephant Finite Elephant is offline
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It's a US thing

Set up your job descriptions/titles so that darn near everyone is an exempt* employee. Set billable hour "goals" and especially project deadlines so that everyone will have to work unpaid OT to make them.

Bonus round: Count all hours worked against project budgets as if they're paid. Link employee compensation to project budget performance (bad because everyone's working OT). Link bosses' compensation to overall company performance (good because of all the unpaid OT).

*meaning exempt from the laws requiring paid overtime
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  #8  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:56 AM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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At my old job, I was a union steward, and I was informedt ah a co-worker would be going "full time." Turns out, they were increasing her hours from 20 per week to 38 per week. Of course by shaving 2 hours off the 40 hour work week, they didn't have to pay her benefits.

I told her she whould fight it and get those two extra hours, but she said she was just happy to get the extra 18.

Dummy.



Happy
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  #9  
Old 06-17-2003, 08:16 AM
godzillatemple godzillatemple is offline
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"Handling" charges are, IMO, the biggest unethical business practice on the planet. Sure, businesses do have legitimate expenses involved in preparing a product for shipping, but those should just be added into the cost of the product. Instead, businesses like to keep the "cost" low in order to attract customers, and then tack on the rest of the cost as a "handling" charge.

I recently saw an ad on TV from a company that markets those "learn at home" type kits on CD-ROM. In their ad, they clai9m they were hugely overstocked and needed to make room for new products, and therefore they were giving away the CDs "absolutely free!" The fine print at the end then informs you that you have to pay something like $5.95 "shipping and handling" for each CD. Of that, $0.95 is probably for the shipping, while the other $5 is the actual cost of the "free" CD that you are buying.

I used to buy a lot of stuff on eBay, but stopped when more and more sellers started charging "handling" fees to make up for their low starting bids and/or reserve prices. I hate it when large companies (who actually have overhead and many employees) charge handling fees -- I'm not about to put up with it when it's an eBay seller working part-time out of his garage.

Regards,

Barry
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  #10  
Old 06-17-2003, 09:41 AM
NurseCarmen NurseCarmen is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Morgainelf
I hate negative option programs. You know, "Buy this one item for really cheap, and without making it clear to you we'll sign you up to get another cheap-ass product every month for the rest of your life, but charge you double plus shipping and handling each time, unless you specifically tell us every month not to send it."

Burns my ass.
Ugh. Time Life Books did this to me, even though I made it CRYSTAL CLEAR when I ordered that I under no circumstances was interested in being "enrolled". They charged my account twice, and sent me one more movie. The labrynth involved in unenrolling drove me batty. Add to the mix, the commercial showed several Monty Python clips, and only a couple were on the DVD I received, so toss in Bait and Switch as well.

I used to sell TVs and such for a now defunct store named Donaldson's. They would constantly advertise incredible deals on out of production/out of stock TVs. I'm not sure if it was bait and switch, I'm fairly certain it was, but the management and marketing folks there had proven themselves clueless several times over, so it's up in the air.
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  #11  
Old 06-17-2003, 11:18 AM
flonks flonks is offline
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You subscribe to a new phone operator (In Europe in some countries you dial a prefix if you want to change the operator) just to find out that the new operator changed the settings of your phone line so that every call is via this operator.

A complain on the hotline produced this remark of the lady on the line: "If we didn't do things like that we would never have customers".

Needless to say that we unsubscribed totally immediately.
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  #12  
Old 06-17-2003, 11:54 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
3) The Sale that Isn't. You put a bunch of items on sale, with a sign on the rack or even a price tag on the item stating the sale price. Do not have your UPC people program the sale price into the computer. If you're lucky, enough of your customers will not be paying attention as the cashiers ring their purchases that you will be able to reap a tidy profit by increasing the volume of sales of the "sale" items.

4) Bait and Switch. This one's a classic. Advertise a major sale on item that you have only a limited supply of, or (and a music store I worked for did this) don't even have in stock. When customers come in to purchase the "sale" items, or call and attempt to order them, you sell them a similar, but more expensive, product.
These are both not only unethical but depending on jurisdiction illegal.
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  #13  
Old 06-17-2003, 11:56 AM
kniz kniz is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Happy Lendervedder
At my old job, I was a union steward, and I was informedt ah a co-worker would be going "full time." Turns out, they were increasing her hours from 20 per week to 38 per week. Of course by shaving 2 hours off the 40 hour work week, they didn't have to pay her benefits.

I told her she whould fight it and get those two extra hours, but she said she was just happy to get the extra 18.
Last night, I read a news magazine article about how wages are being cut; work is being out-sourced to other countries and companies are not looking at employees as assets anymore. It will get better when the economy improves, but it will never go back to where it was in the past.
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  #14  
Old 06-17-2003, 12:29 PM
SnoopyFan SnoopyFan is offline
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The meanest boss I've ever had did this:

In WV (maybe all over, I dunno), the law is that if you work 8 hours, you're entitled to a 30 minute (unpaid lunch) and two(?) 15 minute paid breaks --- unless your employer gives you MORE than 30 minutes for lunch, then he can nix the breaks.

So lunch break at Satan's Little Hell Hole was 35 minutes.
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  #15  
Old 06-17-2003, 12:30 PM
Triss Triss is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by godzillatemple
"Handling" charges are, IMO, the biggest unethical business practice on the planet. Sure, businesses do have legitimate expenses involved in preparing a product for shipping, but those should just be added into the cost of the product. Instead, businesses like to keep the "cost" low in order to attract customers, and then tack on the rest of the cost as a "handling" charge.
I understand that this is just an opinion and that it's something that you're personally not comfortable with.

But if I could just point out: Businesses (usually) are not simply "tacking on the rest of the cost as a handling charge." It really does cost money to pay people to prepare goods for shipping, as you mentioned. Shipping is not free, either.

Why should a business pay all the costs involved in getting their product to your door? Typically, end-users pay all taxes and costs associated with owning the product. There are exceptions however this is usually only with high-volume purchases.

One way or another, businesses MUST make money in order to stay in business, and keep people employed.

If they can't make money on the product itself, they certainly can't afford to deliver that product to end-users free of charge. (It could be argued that they shouldn't be in business in that case) That way lies bankruptcy for the company and job searching for their employees.

It's not (usually) unethical. It's just bottom-line accounting.

Here's an unethical practise for ya: Adding a percentage onto pre-paid & charge invoices just for the cash grab. One supplier in particular sent us a shipment via a carrier who prints the cost of shipping onto the bill of lading, which goes onto the cartons. When we got the invoice, that shipping charge was 50% more. We confronted them, deducted it from their invoice and check every shipping charge from this company now. They haven't done it again, because they know we're onto them.
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  #16  
Old 06-17-2003, 12:43 PM
TaxGuy TaxGuy is offline
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Quote:
1) The 89 day wonder. Got its start here in Vegas in the casino industry, but has since spread to other types of businesses. It works like this. You have a 90-day probationary period for new hires, at the end of which, those new hires will become eligible for health insurance benefits. You hire people, then, a day, or a few days, before that probationary period ends, you let them go in order to avoid paying said benefits. Alternately, you hire a bunch of people at the beginning of the busy season, then you cut them loose at the end because they "aren't meeting the standards of service". Nice way to get temporary help without having to pay extra by hiring people through an agency.
How's this unethical? The employee agreed that he could be fired before the end of 90 days and he wouldn't get benefits during that time. The employee is then fired at the end of 90 days. What's the big deal? The employee should have bargained for more if that's what they wanted. The employee in this situation is not getting screwed.

Quote:
2) OK, this one is practiced by a chain of discount department stores, which shall remain nameless. You open up two of your huge discount stores in a smallish community, very close to each other, within a short period of time. After you have driven all competition out of business, you close one of the stores, putting hundreds of employees out of jobs.
How's this unethical? Do you think that whenever a company hires an employee the company must employ the employee forever or the company is doing something unethical?

I think that what the OP calls "unethical" most folks just call "capitalism." This is just how stuff works, and like it or not, it's the best economic system the world has ever seen.
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  #17  
Old 06-17-2003, 12:46 PM
vibrotronica vibrotronica is offline
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The bait and switch concept seems to be integral to the American way of doing business these days. If you ever try to rent a car, add $100 onto the price you're given when you pick the car up to figure out how much you'll be made to pay when you return the car. And consider the case of the amazing infating interest rate:

vibrotronica and his vibro-babe decide to buy a house together. After considerable shopping around, a mortgage company is chosen because they promise--in writing--a 6.0% interest rate. Suspecting the worst about banker-types (from experience), vibrotronica asks the loan officer "Is there anything that could happen that will change these numbers?" The loan officer says "No. Absolutely not." The usual weeks-long runup to the transaction proceeds as normal until the day before closing, which just happens to coincide with the beginning of the Iraq War. vibro-babe recieves a call from the loan officer. "I was just calling to see if you wanted to lock your interest rate in at 7.0%." she says. "I thought it was 6.0%" says vibro-babe.
"No, it wasn't locked in, and now that this war has started the markets are going crazy." says loan officer.
"I think you'd better call vibrotronica and talk to him about it."
During the phone call that follows, the loan officer attempts to tell vibrotronica that he really doesn't know how the loan market works and that he should immediately sign the documents she is faxing him before the rate goes up to 8.0% or higher. vibrotronica asks why he was told that he would recieve a 6.0% interest rate three weeks ago and now, the day before closing, he is contacted about "locking in" the rate. "Well, we didn't know there was going to be a war." says the loan officer.
"That's odd. I knew there was going to be a war in September. Are you stupid or just ill-informed?"
"Sir, I'm not stupid..."
"Then you are a war profiteer."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that I get the 6.0% rate that I was promised or I find a bank that will stick to its word."
Hours later, vibrotronica is in the middle of calling a dozen other lending institutions when the loan officer calls back and says she has "special permission" from "upstairs" to give the vibro-household the rate she promised three weeks ago. Needless to say, the meeting to sign the loan papers was very tense.
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  #18  
Old 06-17-2003, 12:56 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Triss, a lot of companies in the US now are lowering the "price" and adding on junk fees. Airlines, utilities, etc.

What if the grocery store added 5 cents to the cost of a can of beans at the register? Delivery charge (to the store), they do have to pay for that after all. Then there's the stocking fee, storage, etc. that they could take on.

Handling fees are no different from this. Your logic applies to both scenarios. Businesses should only be allowed to state one price with no additional fees.
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  #19  
Old 06-17-2003, 01:02 PM
Crusoe Crusoe is offline
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  • Opt-out products and services. Not necessarily unethical, although certainly dubious when the key information is hidden in the small print, or when the vendor makes it as hard as possible to opt-out (this means your free 3-month trial offers, AOL).
  • Warranties. Already under government investigation in the UK, I believe. Enormous business for electrical retailers, but the terms and conditions make the damn things pointless most of the time.
  • Small businesses that serially hire employees on an unpaid trial period. Very common in some non-chain fast food places. Hire students or backpackers, put them on a week's trial, then let them go at the end of the week. Then do the same again the next week, and so on.
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  #20  
Old 06-17-2003, 01:35 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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Offsets, Industrial Benefits (Kickbacks)

Government Suasion

Collusion/Combines

Dumping/Predatory Pricing

Gotta love 'em.
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  #21  
Old 06-17-2003, 01:49 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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No one's mentioned the biggest little scam (and perfectly legal): Extended warranties.

I was suspicious the first time someone brought them up and it was exactly what I suspected: pure profit for the company offering them (which is why they push them so hard).

This isn't protection against failure -- that's covered by the manufacturer. If something doesn't fail in the first 90 days of the warranty, there's little likelihood of there being a manufacturing failure. So they are charging you for something that has no real chance of happening.

And they charge a fortune; it's usually cheaper to buy a replacement than buy a three-year extended warranty.

If people offer, I tell them if they think I need this, I'll go somewhere where they don't sell junk that won't last three years.
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  #22  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:19 PM
Triss Triss is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ftg
Businesses should only be allowed to state one price with no additional fees.
"Allowed"? Allowed by whom? The government? Well then, why have businesses at all? Why have competition, open markets, free enterprise, capitalism?

It's very simple: If you don't like the product/marketing/handling fees, don't deal with the company. Get it somewhere else. Caveat Emptor and all that.

Competitiveness in the marketplace, however, means that the prices all fall out to around the same thing. Now obviously this only works if we're comparing apples to apples. Not beans to airline tickets.


If it's not available somewhere else, as in a monopoly-utility situation, then we're pretty much screwed, aren't we? Until we collectively do something about it, our only choice is: Don't consume electricity, which isn't that much of choice really, for the average person.

The grocery store purchases products in vast quantities. Volume. The supplier can much more easily sell at lower prices without adding on shipping and handling because he's selling tons of product. If he wants to supply that grocery store with his tons of product, he better not be charging other fees unless his competition is doing the same.
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  #23  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:28 PM
MaryEFoo MaryEFoo is offline
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[continuing hijack] Capitalism is supposed to go with competition and free markets, they are what make it work. If your dual discount stores close the majority of small local businesses, and then you close one, there is no more local free market, and you get to raise prices. If someone tries opening some competition now, as a chain you lower prices locally and get rid of them again.

Free markets require the buyer to know what the price is. Fooling the customers prevents competition. If, oddly enough, such a practice is suddenly widespread through all competing businesses, the customer can't even decide to avoid sellers using this practice.

There is federal law against "conspiracy in restraint of trade". Hope this administration enforces it. The Microsoft case makes you wonder.

Odd how many "free market capitalist" advocates excuse anti-competitive practices. [/hijack]

As to the OP, I had thought fraud (the bogus sales for instance) was the cheesiest, but bait-and-switch with jobs has to be worse.
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  #24  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:28 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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I have absolutely no objection to paying the cost of shipping an item to me that I order through a catalog or online or whatever. I also have no real objection to "handling" fees, except that, hey, you should be paying your employees out of the cost of the good you sell and not expect me to cover that cost for you. What really frosts me about "handling" fees is that they escalate based, not on weight or number of items ordered, but total cost of the order. Does it make any sense that I can order, say, three huge bulky beanbags for $20 each and pay less in handling than I would pay for ordering a single gold bracelet for $200 from the same company? That as far as I'm concerned is a flat-out ripoff and I refuse to do business with companies who escalate handling fees based on how much you order.
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  #25  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:38 PM
MaryEFoo MaryEFoo is offline
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My prior post does not necessarily attribute bogus thinking to other posters in this thread, it is more of a reaction to a variety of news events over time, and foolish advocation by various people on the subject.

Adding this, since I want to argue the merits, not personalities.
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  #26  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:42 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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My actual favorite is the "sign up for such-and-such a service and we'll send you a $50 debit card at such-and-such store". I thought these give-aways were over with the bursting of the .com bubble. But there are still plenty of them around. Of course, the monthly fees for the services are huge. But if you are extremely disciplined and keep detailed records and outlook reminders you can almost always cancel the service before the deadline and keep the give-away item without getting your first monthly charge.

Of course these companies know that lots of people who sign up for these services are planning on cancelling at first opportunity. But people in general aren't very good at keeping track of such things and will be stuck for at least a few months of bills. Or they will try to cancel but a customer service representative will bully them out of it.

But my wife is very organized about such things, due to the magic of computerized scheduling. She isn't afraid to spend some time on the phone for this, and she can be a major hard-ass with customer-service people who try to lie to her about what the agreement said. And she isn't confused by sales pitches about how she really does want their crappy service after all. No, she's sure she doesn't want it, and isn't embarressed about demanding cancellation. If the company didn't want to give us free stuff they shouldn't have made such a tricky offer in the first place.
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  #27  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:43 PM
Triss Triss is offline
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Otto, the business is paying their employees out of the cost of goods they sell. (Or cost of production or what have you) Shipping & handling are not included in the cost of goods, under usual circumstances anyhow. Employee wages are. I believe this is a normal GAAP. At least it is on my company's income statement.

Again, the end-user pays the costs of getting their goods delivered in most cases. The company selling you a gold bracelet is in the gold bracelet business, not the shipping business.

However, you have a point in that typically, larger, heavier items cost more to ship than small items. That really does make no sense.

Okay, now I better shut up and stop hijacking this thread. Sorry, Thea Logica
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  #28  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:51 PM
The Asbestos Mango The Asbestos Mango is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TaxGuy
How's this unethical? The employee agreed that he could be fired before the end of 90 days and he wouldn't get benefits during that time. The employee is then fired at the end of 90 days. What's the big deal? The employee should have bargained for more if that's what they wanted. The employee in this situation is not getting screwed.


You don't see how this is unethical? A person is hired at a new job believing that the employer intends to hire them permanently the employer only intends to use their services as a temporary employee? The new hire is told that the probationary period is an evaluation period, and if their job performance is good, they will be kept on and receive benefits. "No, prob", the new hire thinks. "I'm being hired to do the exact same job as I had with my last employer, only for more money, and I was constantly being taken aside and being told what a great job I was doing, how I gave such great customer service. I should be a shoo-in." Then, after 80-odd days of doing a good job, or at least a better job than about half the people who work there who have passed their probationary periods, you are told you're "not meeting the standards of service", which is a standard line, and handed a pink slip. And negotiate for something better? The 90-day probationary period is company policy, and not subject to negotiations.

Quote:
How's this unethical? Do you think that whenever a company hires an employee the company must employ the employee forever or the company is doing something unethical?
No, I think the company must employ the employee so long as the business is profitable and the employee is doing their job well and not engaging in misconduct. To open two stores in a small area with the intent of running all of the local competing businesses out of businesses and then closing the less profitable store (which still may be making millions of dollars in profit per year) and putting all of those employees out of work is downright immoral.

Quote:
I think that what the OP calls "unethical" most folks just call "capitalism." This is just how stuff works, and like it or not, it's the best economic system the world has ever seen.
TaxGuy, I have a feeling you are confusing law with ethics. If it's legal, it's perfectly OK to do it, even though it causes harm to people.

And if you don't see anything wrong with deliberately misleading prospective employees in order to get them to take jobs that you know will only be temporary, I think you need to go out and buy yourself a new value system. The one you have now felches week-old roadkill.
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  #29  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:54 PM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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My favorite is more of a scam than a business practice, but -
  • Get a list of people who have invested in the stock market in the past.
  • Divide the list in half. Say there are 500 people on each half.
  • Make up two form letters. Both letters say that you have developed a mathematical model that can predict stock prices. Pick a well-known, but volatile stock. One of the letters says the price will go up; the other says it will go down.
  • Mail one letter to one half of the list, and the other letter to the other half.
  • Whichever way the stock actually goes, divide that half in half again. Repeat the process with another stock and another set of letters - one says the stock is going up, the other it is going down.
  • Whichever half got the letter correctly predicting the stock movement, do the same thing again.
  • You now have sixty-some people who are convinced you can predict the market. Send all of them another letter promising a list of stocks and their predicted movements for a substantial fee.
  • Bank the money, and start over with another list.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #30  
Old 06-17-2003, 03:07 PM
H8_2_W8 H8_2_W8 is offline
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Anything having to do with the music business. Overpriced CDs that they don't want you to copy, even for your own use. Crap acts that are marketed enough that people with actual talent cannot make it anymore.

But the worst are the pricing schemes for live concerts. As an example I saw the following on another board I frequent:

$28.00 Concert Ticket
$1.50 Building Facility Charge ea.
$7.50 Convenience Charge ea.
$3.90 Order Processing Charge ea.
--------
$40.90 Per Ticket ---> Just charge $41 upfront and be done with it. And all this for a band that I've never even heard of before.

I like live music but I'm turned off by the overpriced tickets and all the secret fees to the point that I just don't go anymore. The last concert I saw was Clapton about 4-5 years ago, and not only was that a great show but we also got to see a beautiful blonde-model-Barbie doll type in the row behind us and across the aisle - and I swear on my mother's grave this is real - on her knees and blowing her date during a guitar solo. Really, how could another concert ever be better than that?
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  #31  
Old 06-17-2003, 03:38 PM
Neurotik Neurotik is offline
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I went with Columbia House DVD Club. They tried sending me something that I didn't order and then charging me for it. What they did is they send me an e-mail saying if you don't respond to this e-mail telling us you DON'T want this DVD, we're going to send it to you. I only found out that's what they did afterwards, when they tried it again.

Anyway, to my surprise, I found this charge on my credit card bill. I went through my records, trying to figure out what it was. Then went online through my account info when I realized what had happened. I immediately called my credit card company and told them what happened, they cancelled the charge and I kept the DVD they sent me unsolicited for free. And that, kids, is how I came to own Road to Perdition.
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  #32  
Old 06-17-2003, 03:40 PM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Triss
Otto, the business is paying their employees out of the cost of goods they sell. (Or cost of production or what have you) Shipping & handling are not included in the cost of goods, under usual circumstances anyhow
What I think Otto is concerned about isn't normal shipping and handling, it's excessive shipping and handling. Excessive to the point that we all know the highly discounted price is subsidized by the high handling charges.

I've noticed a few TV commercials promoting "free" lifetime supplies of this or that, all you need to pay is shipping and handling. How much do you want to bet that the S&H charge on "free" weed trimmer strings or "free" pariffin wax will be quite high in relation to the retail value? This is the same scam being pulled by some Ebay sellers, jack up the handling, sell for lower price, give less cash to Ebay.
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  #33  
Old 06-17-2003, 03:48 PM
Tommyturtle Tommyturtle is offline
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I used to work for a major pesticide company and they would cheat their employees out of their season end bonuses

Here is how it worked....I had put in more time and energy than practically anyone one I knew in the company(I had to drive about 300 miles per day when the average distance traveled with techs in the company was 50 miles each day) and was looking forward to a fantastic bonus based on the farms I had done over the summer...it gets close to bonus time and my boss now tells me I have to have a certain percentage of the farmers paid in full by a certain date so I go to each and every one and tell them my bonus depends on them paying by that date and virtually all pay(they liked me and were hoping I'd stick around to do them the next year too as they had trouble with previous techs from the pesticide company)

I had the highest completion rate of anyone that year...the highest paid in full rate too(NO one on my regular route quit the program...that was rare too)...my boss waits until the dead line passes for the bonus then tells me since I was a SWING tech(I did my route PLUS anyone elses who didn't show or did a bad job) I was responsible for ANYONE(who quit the program) I did even ONE time that summer even if they quit the program because their normal tech did a sucky job and there was no way on Gods green Earth I could of done anything different

I found out later from other techs that NO one EVER gets the bonus their first year(my boss keeps it himself)...we are talking about many thousands of bucks too(from me alone)

I told them I wouldn't be back the next year if they were going to rip me off...small consolation but I kept in touch with some other techs and they had to hire THREE people to do the job I did the next year(also alot of the farmers on my route quit when they didn't like the new guys they hired)

Next job was for a taxi company...they cheated me too

We would take vouchers for alot of people and the taxi company would take 37% of whatever the voucher was PLUS the regular lease rate for the cab

My job was to haul the people around and the taxi companys job was to collect for the voucher(that is why they got the 37%...so they said anyway)...however if for ANY reason they could not collect for the voucher we were REQUIRED(as drivers) to accept...the DRIVER was out the money not the company(they would add it on the next days lease for the cab)...I had vouchers that were almost $500 sometimes so you can see we are talking serious money

I had a little talk with the owner of the company and the end result was I decided getting cheated was not in my best interest so I left that job too...many other drivers left too after the owner started that policy

Most of my life I had been a farmer and those were the two main jobs I had after that...I decided working for someone else was not for me and now I sell online full time

Now if my boss screws me at least I can finagle a dinner out of it
(not always...my boss is a real bastard)

BTW My girlfriend had told me most employers will cheat their employees and I didn't believe her...she told me all HER stories and I always kind of thought she was exaggerating...it didn't make sound economical sense to me to screw your own people.
I ran a farm for over 20 years and never cheated anyone who helped out but my experience says otherwise once I left the farm

I am sure there must be some employers who don't cheat their people...somewhere

IMHO A company that cheats their OWN people is a company that I suspect would cheat their customers too
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  #34  
Old 06-17-2003, 04:00 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck
No one's mentioned the biggest little scam (and perfectly legal): Extended warranties.

I was suspicious the first time someone brought them up and it was exactly what I suspected: pure profit for the company offering them (which is why they push them so hard).

This isn't protection against failure -- that's covered by the manufacturer. If something doesn't fail in the first 90 days of the warranty, there's little likelihood of there being a manufacturing failure. So they are charging you for something that has no real chance of happening.

And they charge a fortune; it's usually cheaper to buy a replacement than buy a three-year extended warranty.
I usually feel this way about extended warranties, except for replacement plans for PDAs. As it's been explained to me, most PDAs are built such that if the internal battery fails, it has to be shipped back to the manufacturer and costs ~$100 to fix the problem. Buying a $50 extended warranty made sense to me - and paid off when my last PDA failed 11 months after purchase. Since I had a replacement plan, not an extended warranty, they simply applied the purchase price of my old PDA towards a new one on the spot.
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  #35  
Old 06-17-2003, 04:55 PM
1kBR Kid 1kBR Kid is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shodan
My favorite is more of a scam than a business practice, but -
  • Get a list of people who have invested in the stock market in the past. .................................................................................................... .................................................................................................... .......
  • Bank the money, and start over with another list.

Regards,
Shodan
WOW! THANK YOU! I finally found a way to pay for college!

(just kidding)
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  #36  
Old 06-17-2003, 05:01 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by TaxGuy
How's this unethical? The employee agreed that he could be fired before the end of 90 days and he wouldn't get benefits during that time. The employee is then fired at the end of 90 days. What's the big deal? The employee should have bargained for more if that's what they wanted. The employee in this situation is not getting screwed.
Some us believe that it is unethical to treat people like shit. I know, I know, it's capitalism and all, but still, it's also treating people like shit for profit. And it's unethical, wrong and evil.

I think that what the OP calls "unethical" most folks just call "capitalism." This is just how stuff works, and like it or not, it's the best economic system the world has ever seen.

I'm sure that people used to say the same sorts of things in defense of slavery. We found a better way than slavery, eventually we'll find a better way than capitalism. The fact that we haven't found a better way yet doesn't mean capitalism's excesses aren't unethhical, just as the fact that we hadn't got rid of slavery until 1865 didn't mean that slavery wasn't unjust prior to emancipation.
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  #37  
Old 06-17-2003, 05:43 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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eBay sellers' handling charges

Quote:
Originally posted by godzillatemple
I used to buy a lot of stuff on eBay, but stopped when more and more sellers started charging "handling" fees to make up for their low starting bids and/or reserve prices. I hate it when large companies (who actually have overhead and many employees) charge handling fees -- I'm not about to put up with it when it's an eBay seller working part-time out of his garage.
Those part-time eBayers are especially the types that SHOULD be charging for packing and handling.

Boxes are not free. Heck, they're not even particularly cheap if you have to buy them one or two at a time. Sure, they can be re-used once or twice, but there is a limit to how tattered a box can get before UPS or FedEx will accept any damage claim because the box split open.

Even if you get cheap or free boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap and peanuts cost money. The "little guys" wind up paying more for shipping because they don't have the volume to get a discount from the shipper, and can't afford to buy packing material and boxes in bulk, let alone standardize on one or two sizes.

Even getting the boxes to UPS or FedEx costs money - gas and the seller's time, or a few bucks each to have them picked up on their schedule - you need to wait around for them to show up.

So, would you rather pay more up-front in the form of a higher opening bid or reserve, or pay more at the end for careful and proper packing so your item arrives intact?

Case in point - last week, I shipped out a Mixmaster with two glass bowls. Each bowl was individually bubble-wrapped, and the mixer "head" was taken off the base and each piece was wrapped. I charged the buyer whatever the FedEx Home delivery quote was plus three bucks to cover the cost of bubbles and tape. Not exactly a large profit center, considering how many yards of bubble wrap went into the box.

The item traveled from San Francisco to South Carlolina and arrived safely. Happy buyer. Now, compare this to a mixer I bought from someone who simply put a couple pieces of newspaper between the bowls and left the heavy mixer head on the base, thinking it'd be OK for a 70-mile journey. One bowl was smashed and the base was destroyed when the heavy head snapped the mount off the base. I now have one bowl and some garbage, and have to wait for UPS to come by to look at the sad remains and start processing the claim. I'd have paid ten bucks to avoid the mess. Strike that. I'd have taken the three or so hours to drive over to wherever to pick it up in person.
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  #38  
Old 06-17-2003, 05:44 PM
The Asbestos Mango The Asbestos Mango is offline
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What Evil Captor said.
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  #39  
Old 06-17-2003, 06:03 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
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I can't believe no one has mentioned the most famous scam I hear on a regular basis - every long distance carrier and time share company do this one:

Telemarketer: "Mr. Yarster, if you switch carriers/ attend our timeshare seminar, we will give you [insert valuable item here]"
Me: "OK, but this sounds a little suspicious, can I get your name?"
Telemarketer: "Yes of course, my name is Patty Screwyoubadly, and you can reach use at 1-800-HOT-DEAL"

You switch phone plans or attend the seminar and get nothing or the bait and switch, at which point the following occurs:

Me: "Yes, I agreed to switch carriers/ attend your seminar on the basis I would receive [valuable item]."
Telemarketer supervisor (scam #1): "Well you probably don't know who you spoke to do you? If not, how do I know who to address this matter with?"
Me: "Actually it was Patty Screwyoubadly, and she told me to call this number!"
Telemarketer supervisor (scam #2): "Oh, Patty was reprimanded for that before and was fired a week ago"
Me: "Well this is false advertising! I want my [valuable item]"
Telemarketer supervisor (scam #3): "Well Mr. Yarster, I can't really give you [valuable item] because we no longer offer it/ never offered it and Patty lied to you/ can't offer it unless you do something else for me."
Me: "Well what if I ask the state attorney's office about your sales practices?"
Telemarketer supervisor (scam #4): "Mr. Yarster, I AM INSULTED you would imply such a thing about us. I would be more than happy to give you [useless crap] instead, and only because I feel SO BAD that Patty gave you such poor service"
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  #40  
Old 06-17-2003, 06:20 PM
X~Slayer(ALE) X~Slayer(ALE) is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck
No one's mentioned the biggest little scam (and perfectly legal): Extended warranties.

well the insurance industry as whole has been a continuing scam for hundreds of years.


I am really surprised that no one metioned the biggest business scam of this age.

SPAM

need I say more?
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  #41  
Old 06-17-2003, 06:34 PM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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Regarding Handling Charges, I've always thought that mail-order shipping and handling charges are roughly equal to the actual cost of the product.

That is, if you order a Music CD for $9.95, the $2.25 shipping and handling charge is the amount the company spent to make and ship the product. That way they at worst break even if they have to return your money due to their '100% satisfaction guarantee'.

I don't think it's particularly unethical, or even morally ambiguous. They told you up front you'd be paying the extra fees, and it's just business.

My favorite unethical business practice is buying politicians. They are amazingly cheap, and the returns are tremendous. If you buy the right guy, it's also a get/stay-out-of-jail-free card. Seems to me you can buy time with the president himself for about $100,000. How much did Kenny-boy pay to be able to manipulate the power supply in California and run his offshore scams?
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  #42  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:03 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is online now
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Here's my fave. I used to be managing editor for a banking industry publication. At one point, we ran several articles written for us by various bank marketers about what a great thing fee income is.

Fee income is the money that banks charge you for maintaining your accounts. Their point was that for many customers there wasn't much attention paid to fees, so long as they didn't get beyond a certain point, so you could make a lot of money by charging as much as you could for fees.

They also pointed out that customers wouldn't object to overdraft fees even if they were very high because the customers tended to regard them as a fine for financial misbehavior, rather than a fee.

That is why banks now routinely charge customers $29 for overdrafts when they cost just $2 or so to process. They make $27 bucks every time anyone bounces a check.

Of course, anyone can avoid overdraft fees by just never bouncing a check. Bank know, however, that X percent of their customers will bounce one or more checks in any given month. They are VERY HAPPY to have that fee income. They could charge five bucks for a bounced check and still make a hefty profit, but NOOOO they're banks and they're greedy.

They know that most people who bounce checks are young people and old people and poor people who can afford those fees least. They don't care.

It's an unethical practice that depends on people's guilt about making financial errors, and in a sane world people would make the banks cut it out. But most people I have talked to have said, 'No, I really like being reamed by the bank when I screw up my account.'

Sigh.
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  #43  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:15 PM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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I have 2 replies to above posts.

Quote:
I used to buy a lot of stuff on eBay, but stopped when more and more sellers started charging "handling" fees to make up for their low starting bids and/or reserve prices. I hate it when large companies (who actually have overhead and many employees) charge handling fees -- I'm not about to put up with it when it's an eBay seller working part-time out of his garage.
I have been fighting with a customer from sale I made on eBay 6 months ago. My ad specified $6 shipping and handling. He won the auction and got a very good deal, he save about $10 off the retail price of the item. The initial transaction went smooth, he paid immediately and I shipped the next day. A few days later he email all bent out of shape because I charged him $6 for shipping and handling and the box he recieved shows that I paid $4.20 for the shipping. He wants his $1.80 back. I explained to him I had to buy the box, bubble wrap and tape and pay for the gas to take the box to the post office. He didn't care, he left negative feedback (since removed by eBay) and has been threatening me with a lawsuit. His latest claim is that he can charge me $500 for deceptive business practices. I have repeatedly told him to sue me or go away.


[QUOTE]But the worst are the pricing schemes for live concerts. As an example I saw the following on another board I frequent:

$28.00 Concert Ticket
$1.50 Building Facility Charge ea.
$7.50 Convenience Charge ea.
$3.90 Order Processing Charge ea.
--------
$40.90 Per Ticket ---> Just charge $41 upfront and be done with it. And all this for a band that I've never even heard of before.[QUOTE]

Federal law requires that each charge be shown individually, many consumer rights and public disclosure laws require certain taxes and charges be listed separate from the actual retail price of the item. Did you know that all retailers of gasoline and other motor fuels make available a breakdown of the taxes and fees we pay for each gallon of gas? Most folks don't know this and gas station owners aren't going to post it for all to see. If you ask, they are suppose to show you.
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  #44  
Old 06-17-2003, 08:00 PM
MikeRochenelle MikeRochenelle is offline
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My personal favorite: being too cheap to pay a janitor, and making your employees do his work instead.

I encountered this practice (along with a huge list of other unethical, slimy, and moneygrubbing ones) when I worked for Best Buy. If you ever walk into a Best Buy store and the bathrooms are trashed, you know why - the inventory guys are the ones who unclog the toilets. Remember that the same hands that load your 50" projection TV probably cleaned the restrooms at the beginning of the shift.


I have a lot of great/unbelievable stories from my time at Best Buy. Maybe I should start a thread...


-Ben
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  #45  
Old 06-17-2003, 09:22 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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This happened to me not long ago. I purchased some seismic data (cost ~$10,000) and ordered copies of the field data tapes. Normally, for 2D data, we figure $50-75/line mile for ancillary costs that include tape copies, reproduction and shipping. This was a seismic line where we anticipated ancillary costs would be about $600-700.

The invoice I received for the tape copies was $5600! This was an insane amount to charge, and I called the (dominant in this end of the business) supplier to dispute it. I'll toss in an explanatory note that in the business of licensing confidential data, there are generally no returns - it's considered compromised as soon as it is in your possession.

I was able to, quite quickly, settle the invoice for about $500 with the president of that division. He made the comment, "If I'd seen your name on that job, that invoice would never have gone out the door like that."

I related this to many of my friends in the industry, co-workers and competitors alike, and they've all had a universal interpretation, similar to mine. That is that what this guy was really saying was that they knew they screwed up in charging me the 10-11 times market rate that they routinely get away with charging the lumbering giants like Exxon, who rely on a bureaucracy of acquisition clerks. Having done business with Exxon, I'd have no problem charging them twice market to compensate for the nuisance factor.

But it did seem a little bit wiggly to, without hesitation, drop my invoice by about 90% with just my notification that I wasn't going for it.

Whatever the market will bear, I suppose.

Another that is not so much a business practice as it is an expose of how affairs are conducted on the scamming side of corporate life. Today I read about the recently former CFO of a local, and currently tortured, public company who, when needing to rectify ~$390K of not-earned bonuses taken from the company, executed a promissory note with the company for ~$560K and then got the company to issue her a payment of $170K to cover the overage. Slick, huh? Not slick enough if I'm reading about it.
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  #46  
Old 06-18-2003, 01:20 AM
Cyberhwk Cyberhwk is offline
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Auto Insurance

I'm 20 years old and no longer living at home, yet my mother's insurance company refuses to let her take me off of her insurance policy, eventhough I have no car and will be at home maybe 3 days in the next 6 months.
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  #47  
Old 06-18-2003, 07:29 AM
godzillatemple godzillatemple is offline
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With regard to handling fees (sorry I haven't been back to check this thread earlier):

I have no problem paying for the costs of an item. My point is that the costs of an item should be included in the price and not tacked on afterwards (especially in the "fine print"). Advertising a product for "only $5!!!" and then mentioning in the fine print that there is an additional $4.95 "handling" charge is, in my opinion, just another form of bait and switch. This is especially the case when the seller brags about how he has the "cheapest prices anywhere" and mentions that his competitors (who likely don't charge handling fees) are selling the same item for $9.95.

If a seller needs to charge $9.95 to recoup his expenses and make a profit, by all means he should charge $9.95. And, as somebody else has pointed out, sellers on eBay are required to pay eBay a percentage of their sales, which means that "handling" charges are also a means of scamming eBay as well as the buyers.

Barry
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  #48  
Old 06-18-2003, 07:55 AM
YoudNeverGuess YoudNeverGuess is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Triss
But if I could just point out: Businesses (usually) are not simply "tacking on the rest of the cost as a handling charge." It really does cost money to pay people to prepare goods for shipping, as you mentioned. Shipping is not free, either.

Why should a business pay all the costs involved in getting their product to your door? Typically, end-users pay all taxes and costs associated with owning the product. There are exceptions however this is usually only with high-volume purchases.

One way or another, businesses MUST make money in order to stay in business, and keep people employed.

If they can't make money on the product itself, they certainly can't afford to deliver that product to end-users free of charge. (It could be argued that they shouldn't be in business in that case) That way lies bankruptcy for the company and job searching for their employees.

It's not (usually) unethical. It's just bottom-line accounting.
The problem is that these costs should be included in the PRICE and not sneakily added on to the bill at the end - if you ask me it's false advertising to say something costs a certain amount and then sneak in hidden costs

Another related pet-hate of mine is booking fees. Ticketmaster is one of the most evil, parasitic companies on earth. I worked in a box office where we didn't charge booking fees, presumably because these costs were included in the ticket price and everyone knows what they're getting.

But booking fees are particularly annoying when you pay a booking charge for booking over the phone with a credit card - even if you are going to pick up your tickets and are using an automated system and don't pay a charge if you go in and do it over the counter. In my experience phone bookings take far less of a staff member's time and effort than over the counter bookings.
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  #49  
Old 06-18-2003, 07:58 AM
Melanie Melanie is offline
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Banks. Against my will, every employer pays my money into a bank account. The bank uses my money to make interest. They then have the ordasity (sp?) to charge me fees for the privillage. I hate them with a passion.
Mel.
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  #50  
Old 06-18-2003, 08:02 AM
YoudNeverGuess YoudNeverGuess is offline
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Sorry, sorry, sorry (cringes)

I should have read right to the end before I just repeated what everyone else already said. Please forgive me. My hairs just stood on end when I read the words 'handling fee' - urrrraaaggh (calm down, calm down......)
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