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My Top 3 Money Grabs

Opinion

My Top 3 Money Grabs

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As we know, in a capitalistic system, individuals can have privately-owned business enterprises that allow them to profit from the production and creation of goods or services. In their pursuit to maximize profits, some businesses can engage in questionable business practices and conceal these actions with labels such as “value-added services” and “company policy.” According to me, this is money-grabbing business conduct.

A money grab happens when you are required to pay money out of greedy or opportunistic motives. Customers who experience this business conduct are often left with no other choice but to pay up. On the list below are the Top 3 money grabs that I have observed.

#3 – Caller ID fees

Caller Line Identification Presentation (CLIP) or caller ID allows you to identify who is calling you for incoming cellphone calls. If you do not have caller ID, incoming calls may show as “private number” each time someone calls you which may cause social and security problems. The issue is that if you are a contract customer, some mobile communication companies charge caller ID fees separately either as a value-added service or as a cost towards the price of the contract. For prepaid customers, caller ID is activated by default. Some companies offering this service also fail to explain the separate fee to customers before they sign for these contracts which is distasteful considering that the majority of South African smartphone users (63%) are contract holders (SA Mobile Report, 2017). Although caller ID activation fees are relatively small, this is an inconvenience for customers who may not be aware of the additional costs because whether they like it or not, they need caller ID so they are left with no choice to pay up.

#2 – Airline seat selection fees

There was a time where you could pay for your flight ticket then pre-book your seats on a first-come, first-serve basis for free. Nowadays, however, airlines charge passengers more money for tickets with confirmed seats. I ran a quick analysis for seat selection prices across the top airlines in South Africa, namely, South African Airways (SAA), Kulula.com (KUL), Mango (MAN), FlySafair (FLY) and British Airways (BA) and found the following:

Airline Selection fee (per seat)
BA R88
KUL R75
MAN R55
SAA R51
FLY R30

Source: various airline websites

On average, you will pay about R60 to pre-book your flight seat. BA has the most expensive seat selection fee of R88 per seat while FLY has the cheapest fee of R30 for a regular seat. The caveat, though, is that FLY charges R50 for front seats and up to R70 for “extra room” seats.

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Some may argue that these fees are relatively small in comparison to their overall flight ticket and that paying to pre-book your seat is optional. However, think about that family of four with small children who have no other choice but to pay to ensure that they sit together in order to look after and nurse their children. A R60 fee to pre-book your seat may seem small when you are flying solo but when you think about a family having to pay an additional R60 for each member, it really does add up. My qualm here is that, actually, seat selection fees are not optional in many cases and similarly to other money-grab tactics, the customer is left with no other choice but to pay up.

#1 Unneeded car repairs

During a routine car service, a friend of mine was told that his clutch only had a few months left and it urgently needed to be replaced. At the time, a new clutch would have set him back R13 000. He could not afford it and he decided to drive in faith and five years later, that same clutch is doing just fine. Not sure if it was divine intervention or the clutch had been fine all along but one thing is certain – improvements in technology have made modern cars increasingly more reliable than before.

These improvements have made it more difficult for car dealerships and auto repair shops to generate sales from repairs. In efforts to generate further sales, some service technicians will try to convince you to buy additional parts and repairs which in many cases are not necessary. Some of the popular unnecessary repair items include new brake pads and shocks where the technician will stress the importance thereof by using words such as “hazard,” “danger,” “urgent” and other highly technical terms that the customer does not fully understand. As a customer, you then feel compelled to pay for these additional services that you actually do not need as you now fear for your “safety”.

Join in the conversation by adding your money grab experiences as we vent and expose shady business practices.

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