The three-cent bill
November 20, 2006
We all know not to expect to see a legitimate three-dollar bill. Last week, however, I was amused and amazed to receive a three-cent bill.
My former long-distance provider, recently replaced by a more comprehensive phone plan from a local provider, decided, as a final act of goodwill and corporate wisdom, to send along an afterthought last bill for…3 cents. That’s $0.03. And that’s really cheesy. Just call it “brand stupid”.
This bill, likely to have a major impact on quarterly earnings reports for Wall Street, was for one day’s worth of “Interstate Services Fee”, apparently incurred during the window of time of my cancellation. Now, I know they have to charge these fees. But can’t someone with just a touch of common sense develop an algorithm that says, essentially, that any charge like this of under (let’s say) $10.00 really costs more to bill and collect than the amount itself? Let alone the lost good will?
For years, I had no problem with this provider. I was happy with the service and the billing. But what will be my final memory of them? That’s right – a 3 cent bill. All brand equity lost, for 3 cents. Who knows what it cost them internally to generate and process this invoice – AND, I’m also being asked to spend 13 times the amount of the bill for the postage to send it in!
So, in response, I am sending along 3 pennies taped to a 3×5 card. And if I somehow fail to remember to put postage on the envelope, so that it arrives postage due, that would certainly be poetic justice.
That’s my 3 cents worth…