I’ve had a programmable thermostat for four years and had been very happy with it. Then this week, I received a $65 invoice for a year of service. I’ve never paid an ongoing maintenance fee before and was quite surprised to receive this bill. No warning, no “oh-you-get-four-years-free-then-we-start-charging-you” – just pay now or we’ll cut off your ability to use the scheduling or remote access functions. What?! Needless to say, I have a new thermostat from a new company where I fully expect to pay once and be done.

In a similar scenario, a private Facebook group I belong to has many members up in arms because the course creator is deleting the group and moving to a plan where a $97/month membership fee is required to continue. We were led to believe that the group support was part of our course purchase, and many are vocally displeased that the terms are being modified mid-cycle. Our one-time payment has morphed into an ongoing expense.

How you enact a change is as important as the change itself. No one likes to receive an unpleasant surprise without much warning or to learn that the terms have suddenly become far less favorable than what was promised when the purchase decision was made. If you need to alter your offerings, don’t only focus on the additional revenue you’ll gain. Rather, be sure to factor in the goodwill that you’ll lose. Grandfather clauses that allow previous terms to continue were created for a reason.

 

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