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It astounds me how some companies think it’s an acceptable behaviour to trick or pressure people into making a purchase.

When vendors engage in such tactics, the inevitable result is diminished trust from the client. Trust is one of the pillars of a healthy, strong and long-lasting business relationship.Trust shouldn’t be jeopardized.

The trickery I’m referring to in this article refers to blurring the lines between truth and lie. Let’s take a look at an example of trickery you can witness on the web as I write this.

MemberPress is a company that develops a WordPress plugin (a “program”) which adds membership functionality to a website. Notet that for the purpose of this article, the product in question is irrelevant.

Look at their pricing page here:

You’ll notice a countdown timer at the top of the page offering you a significant discount if you purchase the product before the time expires. The timer seems to start at around the 3 hours and 47 minutes mark.

  • If you let the countdown expire and you refresh the web page, the countdown restarts at 3 hours plus.
  • If you return to the page tomorrow, the countdown also restarts.
  • If you open the same page in a different web browser, again, the countdown is reset.

In all instances the same offer stating “you’d better act now for the limited time offer” appears once again.

It’s a decoy, it’s misleading, it’s a lie…. it’s wrong.

Companies who use such tactics may make sales but, once the customer realizes she’s been duped, trust is lost and the business relationship is greatly weakened.

There are many unethical ruses in the wild which you may have witnessed. For example:

  • “Money back guarantee!” … you try to get a refund but the “guarantee” is not honoured for some weak reason.
  • “We will not be undersold!” … you discover a lower price somewhere else and the vendor doesn’t honour his claim by finding some excuse not to.
  • “Lowest price of the year!” … and a short time later the product or service is offered at a lower price.

Once again, we return to the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. When trying to determine if our marketing approach is upstanding, reflecting on the Rule leads us to the right answer. If I were on the other side, if I were the customer, would I like to be marketed to in this way? So simple, yet so elusive.

I did purchase MemberPress for a project solely because the software best fit the project’s requirements. However, the trickery naturally left me with a sour taste and as a result I distrust the company and folks at MemberPress. When the time comes where another option becomes available, I’ll gladly switch company to another I can trust. It just doesn’t feel good to do business with them. It’s out of need, not of want. Not a good position from the vendor’s perspective.

If you have a good product, good people and you provide good service, relying on virtuous marketing approaches will do the trick. There’s no need to resort to trickery. For instance, the occasional seasonal special on your products or service, will do. There are many other marketing approaches which are viable, ethical and don’t jeopardize trust.

At the time of this writing, March 2020, this scheme had been active for at least a year. I do hope MemberPress changes their dubious, deceitful and dishonest marketing approach.

Tricking your customers will likely cause an eventual loss of clients and revenue. Honesty wins. Let’s remain honest.