Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beware of the Marketing Schemes

I was watching TV the other day and I saw an ad for automatic liquid soap dispenser. It comes with a built-in infra-red sensor and when you put your hands underneath the nozzle, it dispenses the soap for you. Doesn't that seem luxurious? The ad was making a point that their touch-free product prevents harmful germs from transmitting. If you want to prevent germs from transmitting, you shouldn't even enter the toilet! LOL

I find it funny people inventing these stupid things and find it even more funny people falling for these things. You seriously don't need an auto soap dispenser in your home. I would rather spend $2 for a soap dispenser with a simple spring mechanism than buying this cute little machine. My simple manual soap dispenser has lasted me over 2 years already and it is still doing it's job. Every time I run out of soap, I just buy a large container of liquid refill soap and fill up my dispenser.

This is just one of the examples. There are plenty of these marketing schemes we see everyday that entice us to use their products and services. Some schemes are fairly straightforward while others come with hidden conditions. I especially hate those mobile phone deals. I find it absolutely hard to figure out their deals. Since I don't use my mobile phone much, I don't have to worry about them.

Different vendors say the same thing in different ways to fool the consumers. I was looking for a better ADSL + home phone bundle deal. I checked lot of deals provided by different providers. Some looked better than the others. But when I carefully calculated the costs, they came out to be pretty identical. So I totally gave up the idea of changing the provider. Some providers charge less monthly service fee and compensate that with higher call rates. Some advertise $1 monthly line rental fee in bold letters but if you read the plan detail, there is a minimum monthly spend amount of $10. That means you will be throwing away $11 in total even if you don't use $11 worth of calls.

To avoid falling on the trap of marketing schemes, always REMEMBER the following:
  • Research the market well and do your homework before talking to the salesperson. I usually familiarise myself with the deals/prices of products in the market before going to the shop or speaking to a rep. If you know in advance, you are less prone to be cheated and you can even negotiate well.
  • Always read the fine prints. Whenever you see a really good deal with attractive design and the price highlighted in bold, read the fine prints as well.
  • Make note of "Conditions Apply" phrase. There is usually an asterisk next to it and it is explained in detail on the footnotes. Some important details are hidden in this area.
  • Read $99 as $100. Notice the different between 2 and 3 digit numbers. This is a popular pricing technique that takes a psychological advantage.
  • If you are going for mobile phone plans, mortgage rates, bank accounts, internet plans, etc, carefully compare the plans. Get the one that suits your current needs. Some different plans may turn out to be identical. 
  • Do your own calculations. Don't ask the salesperson or agent to do the price comparison for you. You can ask them but don't rely on the information they provide. Some of them try to trick you into buying their own plan. I once went to a bank for negotiating a term deposit rate. Another bank was offering me a higher rate so I was trying to see if this bank would match the other bank's rate. The lady there was doing a comparison for me. She started comparing 3-month term deposit against the other bank's 6-month product (or something like that, I can't exactly remember), which made it seem like her bank was offering a better deal. Sometimes they try to use this kind of technique. Be careful with that.
  • Beware of MLM's and Pyramid schemes. I personally don't feel they are any helpful. I am highly sceptic about these schemes. I have never met anyone who has confidently said they are happy with MLM's. I have seen more people satisfied with their jobs than with this schemes.
  • Don't believe in "Get Rich Soon" schemes. Seriously, it's not that easy to get rich. They might just sell you some books, send you CDs and make you pay some registration fee. They are the ones who get rich soon, not you.
Is there anything else you can think of? Have you been fooled by marketing schemes? Feel free to share your stories.

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