A 12-month contract? Ask yourself why.

The online world has seen an explosion in services which can be provided at little cost for any additional subscribers. It’s become standard practice now for suppliers of good value services to offer them free for a month or longer to draw in prospects, and that’s a great thing for everyone.

Alongside this, if a service is good enough, a supplier should surely offer the ability for customers to come and go as they please. Yet often I hear people saying: “I’ve just signed up for such-and-such for a year”. What is going on here? What sort of service ties you in for a minimum period nowadays? The only answer, in my mind, is that it’s a service which the supplier has found many customers regret joining.

I’ve heard some weasel excuses about needing to tie in customers “to cover set-up costs”. Well, in that case, be honest and charge separately for the set-up.

For our part, we have never asked clients to sign anything which commits them to use us for a specific period. Renewing a service each day, week or month should be something the customer is glad to do. It’s true that with our PPC advertising management service, I’d hope clients would be confident of sticking around for, say, three months, because it can take that long to get things up to speed. But if they decide otherwise, it should always be their choice.

If someone insists on tying you into a contract, I’d be very skeptical about their motives.

Discussion

  1. Jason palmer

    I agree, the web is full of scams which is why it best to work with locals so you can get local references and ask around about reputation.

    Alas, people can make a profit from legal scams so they exist, business people vary in experience and sometimes learn lessons the hard way.

  2. Andy Harris

    Being in the privileged position of (A1WebStats) speaking to thousands of businesses with websites, we see a good cross-section of ‘contract hell’ issues.

    Sometimes it’s businesses locked into their SEO, PPC, social media service provider. More often it’s people resenting our competitor (Lead Forensics) trying to tie them into 12 months contracts.

    Reasons for 12 month contracts are varied, but include:

    1. People paid commission for getting the 12 month sale (i.e. sell it, even if the client may not fully benefit).

    2. Lack of confidence that results will be gained (so safeguarding income for 12 months).

    It’s archaic and doesn’t inspire confidence in the potential supplier. As Chris says, it’s not unreasonable to be upfront about a separate setup charge. After all, if you went to the client and asked for their services/products for no money upfront, then they’d tell you where to go.

    We fully support the BMON mindset about making it easy for people to have the choice to exit if they want to. The suppliers who provide a strong service won’t have to fear churn.

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