It’s interesting how larger companies get away with not giving you what you paid for. Just a few quick recent examples that made me think about this.
When you are a paying Audible.com customer and accumulate credits with every monthly membership fee you pay, did you know that you’ll lose all your credits if you stop paying for your monthly membership? My card on file expired and I didn’t bother to update. I had several credits sitting in the account and figured that would be enough for a few books until I have time to update my payment details and become a paying member again. Or not become a monthly Platinum member again. Either way, I paid for credits so I should be able to use them any time, right?
No, not according to Audible.com. Let’s make this clear – the benefit of a paid membership there is to get credits. You get 1 or 2 or more credits with every monthly payment, depending on which plan you have. With those credits you buy books. If you don’t use your credits to buy books that month, they’ll accumulate in your account,…AS LONG AS YOU KEEP PAYING EVERY MONTH. Even if you stop paying and don’t buy any more credits, you should be able to use the credits you already paid for any time you want to.
To make it even worse, Audible only lets you accumulate up to 8 credits. So after that even if you keep paying every month, you don’t actually get any more credits. So naturally you want to cancel your payments and start using up the credits you already paid for. Well, Audible w0n’t let you do that.
Another example – let’s take Virgin Mobile. No contracts, no monthly fees, you just pay per minute. I used to buy Virgin Mobile phones to keep around for emergencies. You put money/credits in your account and it’ll get used up as you use your minutes. You can automatically “top up” your account and buy minutes. If you don’t use them, they roll over. That’s great. Except if you stop topping up your account – maybe because you never used your minutes and all these regular automatic top-ups gave you a huge credit, or you just want to switch carriers – , you’ll lose everything. Again – you paid for the minutes. You should be able to use them any time. But Virgin Mobile makes you pay to extend the right to use something you’ve already paid for. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
This is terrible business and, frankly, in my eyes, akin to theft. I’ve been a customer of both companies for many years and given them my money on a regular basis. Obviously I’m no longer interested in doing business with either of them going forward. My lifetime value to them is probably several thousand dollars. They lost this now. How many other customers are they pissing off with their shady dealings?
Many years ago, some adult sites would make their videos that a member downloaded unplayable if that member canceled his membership. Obviously paying customers didn’t like that and thankfully this practice died out. You pay for something, you get to keep it. That’s how it should be.
FOLLOW UP: Audible.com graciously reinstated my account and the credits that I had accumulated – provided that I update my credit card information and start paying my monthly membership fees again…and accumulate even more credits which I likely won’t use.