Pricing Structures that Grate My Nerves

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September 13, 2012 by Will Ray

There are some companies out there that I just don’t like.

Courtesy of

It may be because of a poor quality product, bad customer service, unethical business practices, annoying marketing – or it may be because of their awful pricing structure.

I don’t like McDonalds, but it’s not because of their pricing structure – I can buy just what I want there.  Imagine going to McDonalds and having the option of purchasing a small fry for $1.50, or you could buy a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal with a large fry, bucket drink, and a large McFlurry for $8.99.  Who want’s all that?

Or imagine going to Wal-Mart (or Target if you prefer) for back-to-school shopping, and you can either buy 3 pencils for $1, or buy 250 pencils for $20.  It cut the per-pencil price to next to nothing, but who wants to spend $20 on pencils? And who wants a shoebox worth of pencils, anyway?

Obviously I’m being a little hyperbolic, but I’m just making the point that I don’t want to spend more than I have to, but some places force you to do so.

AT&T is probably the best example.  I’ve been with AT&T a while, so take this for what it’s worth, but it’s always bothered me that I could only purchase 700 or 1400 “Family Talk” minutes.  Could I use more than 700?  Yes.  Do I want to spend $20 more each month for double the next largest amount of minutes… no, not when I’m trying to tighten the budget.

Texting is another example with AT&T.  You have the option to either pay-per text at $0.20 (too small for nearly anyone I know) or unlimited texting for $20/month, which I don’t need and most people probably could do with less.

Those 2 items cost you an extra $40-60 bucks a month!

TimeWarner Cable is another one that grates my nerves.  Not only do [did] they harass me about signing up for other services so I can “save money” by spending more (who wants a home phone anyway??), they’ve descended into completely relying on these “introductory promotional offers.”

You sign up and get an introductory promo rate, then, after 6, 12, or 18 months of being a great customer, your rate goes up to the normal rate, which can be as much as double what you’re currently paying!  Then you call and are at their mercy if they want to put you on a new “promotional rate” that will last for another 6 or 12 months.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t.

Since Nancy and I are small-business people, I can see how leveraging your products and pricing to maximize revenue can be attractive.  But why sacrifice the long-term good will and appreciation of your customers by sucking them dry?  I guess because they think they can get away with it.

Question: What other companies do this kind of stuff? 

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About me…

Youth minister, financial coach and part-time wedding photographer, based in Raleigh, NC

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