Thursday, 31 January 2013

The parasitic growth of underhand sales techniques

You're smiling now ... but wait til the 'stealth bill' arrives!

Grrr ... slightly off topic, but this one angered me.  I bought a product called PC Cleaner Pro last year.  My PC was slow and needed cleaning out.  £25 for a PC cleaner to do the job didn't seem that bad.  It worked brilliantly - I thought, great job.   Anyhow ... I checked my credit card randomly and saw a bill, a year later, for PC cleaner.

Hang on a minute, I already bought that.  Apparently, it a stealth subscription product.  Why?  Is a few updates and some patches worth a whole payment. It's hardly World of Tanks or Warcraft, I haven't noticed any new 'worlds' turn up on the PC cleaner front.  Maybe I don't play it enough, if I really put in the PC Cleaner hours perhaps I could level up and get access to a whole new vista of cleaning products, deep clean areas, eradication missions .... Oh wait ITS A FECKING SPAM CLEANER!

I contacted customer support - only to be met with this: 

Your chat number is 10C-189CF2B3-050D
Chris: I got billed on 26/1/13 for a pc cleaner product I bought last year...
Gio: Hello! Welcome to PC Cleaner live chat! My name is Gio, I will be assisting you today.
Chris: Hi Gio
Gio: Hello! Welcome to PC Cleaner live chat! My name is Gio, I will be assisting you today.
Gio: You can also locate by SafeCart number found in the confirmation email sent to you by safecart following your purchase. The order number will begin with NWPC.
Chris: yes you said that
Gio: I'm sorry for that
Gio: You can check it with our online look-up.
Chris: I have no email from you or safecart. I purchased this product last year.
Chris: Why am I being billed again?
Chris: There is no record of my credit card on safecart.
Gio: Please check your safecart if you are enrolled in automatic renewal.
Chris: Is this an annually renewed product?
Gio: Yes
Chris: Why?
Chris: That isn't made clear in the purchase process.
Gio: To disable auto renew please send your request to and they will assist you immediately.@@SPACER
Chris: I don't like this approach ... its underhand.
Chris: The products good, but it feeling like you're stealing money for a product I've already paid for. Do I get anything else for the renewal price?
Gio: It is stated in the terms and condition
Chris: Yeah, fineprint backside cover - real upstanding. You just got screwed because you didn't read every page of the EULA. Never saw that before. Doesn't improve how this feels, does it?
Chris: I like this product, I'd like to use it on multiple computers... that would make it worthwhile. Can I do that?
Chris: Round robin PC maintenance would make the £25 a year worth it.
Gio: One license key one computer policy.
Chris: You're not winning me over are you? You really don't give a damn about your customers do you?
Chris: This is it, take it or leave it. We'll stealth bill you and take your money... and the customer service amounts to 'told you so, hahaha' - cute
Chris: I would like my invoice sending to cd****@****, as you are legally obliged to provide. Otherwise I cannot claim the payment and I'll have to bounce your payment as fraudulent and without my consent.
Chris: You have given no notification of an invoice, I have had no notification of your renewal from your 'payment handler' and the payment handler has no record of the charge. Please issue me the invoice.
Gio: Please send your request for refund to our billing department they will just notify you an email the status of your request.
Chris: Will they refund me?
Gio: Yes
Gio: Thank you for contacting PC Cleaner PRO Support, have a nice day!
This live chat session is no longer active

Now there's charm for you eh?

Professional Sales Hat Talk

 So what's wrong with this picture?  I like the product, I would have renewed but the company weren't interested in sales.  They had spent so much money invested in product development, but have a mindset where 'product = auto sales'.  By shying away from the price (a common problem and something to be learnt), they opted for underhand payment tactics, ass covering T&C's and poor sales approach.  The 'customer service' (STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK) guy had an easy response for me, here it is:

"We're really sorry that the subscription came as a surprise, it is in the terms and conditions, but some of our customers have missed that.  As a conciliatory gesture, would you be happy if we enabled your account to work on another computer?"

Cost to them - none.  Value to me - I get to keep the product I like and feel I'm getting 'special treatment'.  Value to reputation - priceless.

I may have been writing a better review.
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