I have already written about how bad customer service has become. That’s an indirect way that companies cheat you out of your money. But I have been keeping my eye on suspect if not shady business practices and it’s getting to be annoying.
With inflation, many companies are creating new packages that are smaller and contain less product but for the same or a higher price. Notable to me is Optifree which moved from 16 oz. contact lens solution to 12 oz. That’s a 25% reduction in volume and the price has gone up at least 15%. This amounts to a 36% increase in price per unit volume! And notice how big cereal boxes are compared to the bag and quantity of food inside. At least with food, we might all lose a little weight (while going broke).
The other phenomenon I’ve noticed is rebates being sent as rebate cards instead of checks. At least they’re getting sent more quickly instead of the former 6 to 8 week stall. That’s probably because they can’t earn as much interest on your money as they used to. With a rebate card instead of a check, when you get down close to a zero balance, you can never quite use that final $.47. I’m sure the companies profit from this. $.47 on $50 is almost 1% which seems trivial but turns out to be a lot with banks paying little as they do for savings account interest.
The last scam I’ve noticed that companies are trying is to move customers to paperless billing. This is a good thing in that it saves paper and we get fewer stacks of paper waiting to be filed, but the companies only let you access statements on-line within the last 12 months or sometimes 6 months. Why? Memory is cheap isn’t it? Well, they do let you get older statements (often with a delay due to a special order) and then they charge you. Outrageous.
Of course, consumers can fight back by voting with our wallets. But some of these practices are shared by all companies who provide certain types of products. Of course, I haven’t done a full scientific market survey so take my blog post with a grain of salt but just remember to keep watching what “big business” is up to.