Last Friday, the phone on my desk rang. It was a nice-sounding guy from Verizon who wanted to sell me high-speed Internet. I told him that I was looking at his circular and I wanted to order. We decided I needed more horsepower than the 768Kbp on the circular and the cost would be an additional $10. I agreed to that.
“I want to take down your information,” he said, “so I can set up your account and send you the modem.”
“What do you mean, ‘send me the modem?’” I asked.
“This system connects through your regular telephone line and you need a special modem.”
“You want me to connect this thing?” I asked.
“It’s really very easy and we offer full telephone support.”
“That’s not what I do. I operate a keyboard at 75 words a minute. I am not technical. I don’t know how to connect things.”
“It’s really very simple.”
“If I buy this thing, I want someone to come up here and connect it.”
“That will cost you $150.”
“Then forget it.”
I hung up.
I live in Center City Philadelphia. Verizon trucks are around all the time. The idea that Verizon would charge me $150 for a guy to pop in for five minutes to hook up my computer and make sure everything was working was preposterous.
The Deal-Killer Avoidance Checklist
“Always make it easy to order,” said the late Elsworth Howell on my first day of work at Grolier Enterprises where he was founder and CEO. His words have been etched in my brain ever since.
One reason the dot-com boom turned into a bust was that the kids who set up the systems ignored the old rules of marketing. “This is a new medium—a new paradigm,” they told us graybeards. “We make the new rules.”