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It’s happened again, a charged showed up on one of our credit cards that I did not approve.

How or why did this happen? Because the company involved, from which I had purchased a software product more than a year ago, sent me an email—an email—saying they were going to “renew” my software unless I responded and cancelled. In other words, my card was going to be charged unless I specifically wrote, in essence, “Don’t charge me for something I didn’t order.” Since I thought the email was spam I didn’t read the fine print, deleted it, and moved on. This seemingly rational act was apparently a mistake.

This kind of unauthorized charge is now happening on a too-regular basis because more companies are operating in an aggressive and, I’d say, unethical manner. Particularly in a tight economy they want to make sales, so they’ve devised new ways not to offer a better product but to trick people into paying for their current product.

Such companies also know that people often don’t take the time or trouble to deal with an unauthorized charge—meaning the company may get away with the charge—if it falls below their particular hassle threshold. For example, are you willing to make multiple calls and chase people, write letters and emails (keeping copies of all of them), threaten to call your attorney, and run up your blood pressure for an unauthorized charge of, say, $22.95?

We get magazine announcements stating “You qualify for continued subscription services,” which means that if you don’t contact to cancel you’ll be invoiced for a magazine subscription you never ordered.

One person on a blog I read said unauthorized credit card charges are “like a roach motel; once you get in you can’t get out.”

As I’ve said, I think this is unethical behavior. Or at a minimum it’s a reminder of that classic capitalist principle caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.”

But wait a minute—I didn’t buy anything; I was just charged for it. Two thumbs down for companies that practice this bad business tactic.

Credit card companies and business watchdog agencies are at least aware of this questionable practice. Click here for advice on how you can get unauthorized charges removed.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Some 70% of leisure travelers and 63% of business travelers say a free hotel breakfast is important in their choice of a hotel. It’s convenient, generally saves a few dollars while saving a lot of time compared to breakfast in a restaurant, and gives you the option of grabbing a bite and going back to your room to work until a later check-out.

Some say a “free breakfast war” might develop among mid-priced hotels. Hope so. It would be good for road warriors. Here are a few ideas hotel executives could consider:

Better coffee. No one expects hotels to compete with Starbucks, but too often you get coffee that’s weak, not hot and at times actually tepid, or offered in cheap styrofoam cups with flat lids that are difficult to use.

Real eggs. You wouldn’t believe how many times you reach for the scrambled eggs only to discover they’re powdered, dry, and inedible.

Real Orange Juice. The watery orangey stuff that passes for orange juice—actually some kind of bad kool-aid—in most hotel breakfast bays is, well, awful.

Whole Milk. Some hotels provide a whole milk option but most do not. Most offer skim and 2%. Adding another choice wouldn’t cost the hotel more because people wouldn’t drink both, just the one they really want.

Variety. Hotels apparently think people stay one night only, yet most business travelers regularly stay in given cities for multiple nights. The same breakfast choices each morning is disheartening.

Hotels can't be expected to turn into restaurants unless they add a restaurant and charge accordingly. But "free" hotel breakfasts have been a welcome accommodations innovation in the past twenty years. Here’s hoping they take them to the next level.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.