I love this time of year. The bills just keep on piling up at home and each time we rely on the "outstanding customer service" of the relevant money suckers to cut us some slack and extend the deadline another week. I'm sure you've all been down this dark and gloomy road before.
Which brings me to the doozy of all bills - car registration. I got the forms in the mail the other day only to find that a greenslip for our Toyota Camry wagon (oh, what a feeling!) hit a whopping $520 through one insurance company. Sure, that's a drop in the bucket for you more affluent types who can putt around in your puncy 'Beamers' and 'Mercs'. (I realise I've just offended 99.9 per cent of the entire IT industry, but so what!) Suffice it to say, my wife and I were not happy and decided to check out the competition, like any good customer does when they are in the market for a service offered by many resellers.
The second place we called couldn't do much better so we brushed them quick smart. Our third choice, though, typified a lesson that no doubt many of you have been taught, or subsequently won business from, as a result.
The insurer in question (who shall remain nameless in case we really do need them in the future) casually informed us that a greenslip for the Camry would not only cost more than the $520 we were initially charged, but would also be added to a $500 excess. Come again?
Now I realise that, despite suggestions to the contrary, the cost of car rego and insurance will continue to spiral and fill those insurance coffers. But to think that one insurance company could feasibly expect motorists to pay this sublime amount of money just to keep their bucket of bolts on the road is absurd.
So while you don't get any bonus points for guessing who didn't get our piddling business it stands to reason that, in this instance, price means everything when the service being provided is common.
What amazed us was the sheer lack of interest from the customer service representative when questioned about this crazy price. Something along the lines of "that's the price the company sets - like it or lump it!" was the response we received when we suggested their competitors were happy to charge far less to win our business.
In the wash-up we managed to get a greenslip for just over $400 from an insurer that prides itself on staying ahead of the curve. True, it may have lost almost $100 on the deal, but when you think about it, the return on investment for such a practice must be substantial.
This then begs a question which is already being answered by many resellers and integrators. Why charge inflated prices for goods and services when all you're really doing is giving free hits to your competitors? Instead, think smart and realise that price does matter.