Are you Addicted to Free Money?

There is lots of “free money” out there.  Companies are making millions.  Let me give you some examples:

  • A bank whose customers send them payments but don’t include their account details, the bank has no idea where to credit the cash.  They sit on it for a while, waiting for the customer to claim it, but when they don’t, it is written to the bottom line.  Free Money
  • A utility company refunds customers who have been over charged.  It sends them cheques. Some of those cheques will never get cashed. So the refund is never really refunded.  Free Money
  • A mobile phone company with customers who are clearly on the wrong price plan. They are paying more than they should. But the customer is oblivious. Free Money.
  • An IT company that provides free tech support via a call centre. All customers need to do is dial the premium rate phone number.  Free Money.

It is all perfectly above board, legal and best of all free.

You know it is wrong but…

Free money is like free booze, you know you shouldn’t take it, you know it won’t make you feel good about yourself, but it has a certain seductive quality.

And the more you take the more of a problem it becomes.  A million pounds here and a million pounds there, all hitting the bottom line. You have to be a very strong man to stop.

For many the question is a commercial one:

If I stop is it a good commercial decision?  Will I make more money?

Maybe the it should be an ethical one:

Would I tell my Mother about this? Do I need the money that badly?

Are you big enough to stop taking the free money?

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Image by wwarby

Comments

  1. Hello James
    Excellent – you have identified a disease that is virulent in the corporate mind and organisation. Fred Reicheld calls this “Bad Profits” as opposed to “Good Profits”. The issue as you have identified is that once organisations become addicted it takes one hell of a courageous CEO to wean the organisations and the financial analysts off that addiction.

    Am I right in thinking that the new boss of Lloyds (appointed from Santander) decided that it was time to come clean on PPI? He broke the ranks and all the other banks who were mounting a legal challenge to PPI compensation caved in.

    Maz

  2. I believe so

    More here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2011/05/lloyds_to_settle_ppi_claims.html

    Interesting that it was Lloyds and not RBS

    Thanks for your comment

    JL

  3. Hi James,
    Men and women have been shot for less. I wonder what goes through people’s minds when they are making decisions on this. Is it ok if they don’t get found out?

    Funny kind of morality,

    Adrian

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