Fail by Fee

I somehow got on a marketing list for National Pen Company. Might stem from when I was running my own business. They sell customized SWAG you can give away to customers. For over 10 years, National Pen has been sending me samples to get me to buy some pens from them.

Here is the thing. They have nice pens. When it came time to buy, I figured why not give them a shot? They persevered for such a long time. I placed an order. They had a "first time buyer" discount that sweetened the deal.

They called me up to confirm my order. Then it arrived. They even shipped it without me first paying. The invoice was included with my shipment. That's when the bad surprises came. Yeah I expected they would tack on a shipping fee. But they also added a setup fee.

The setup fee feels like what I call a garbage fee. This is not a third party fee such as the real money they have to bay UPS to deliver the package. This is some in house nonsense extra money I need to pay. Hey if you have costs, roll them into the cost of your project. Don't try to trick your customer by gouging them with a surprise fee.

It is a shame. Their marketing and project was really good. The pricing and billing killed any repeat business they might get. Now they are going to get bad publicity. Every time I talk about them, I will say they have good pens but they try to rip you off on the transaction. Fail.

Chik Fil A?

I was talking with an old buddy of mine. He said his cash flow was bad. Previously he had planned to leave his old job, collect a severance, and start a new job. The severance was paid out monthly. My buddy thought he would effectively be getting double paid while the severance lasted. Unfortunately it took him a long time to find a replacement job. Thus no doubling.

My friend wanted to have another $50k to $150k in the bank. Well then maybe he should do some lucrative contracting on the side. His problem is that he is a busy guy. He barely gets his work done with all his other commitments. We got to talking. I asked him what other ways could he make a big windfall. He thought he could run a fast food franchise.

One big name that came to mind was Chick-Fil-A. I assumed my friend could not afford the franchise fee. However a little researched showed that the franchise fee was only $5k. You also needed another $5k in liquid funds to begin. Woo hoo. Sign me up. Of course there were a lot of other costs that could range between $250k and $750k. But my friend thought he could convince a bank to loan him the capital.

Who knows? Maybe this is the right way to go. Chick-Fil-A restaurants seem to always get a lot of customers in our local area. I presume there is enough demand for another restaurant or two in the area. This is running a business. Fast food might be a tough market. But with the right franchise in the right place, profits may be forthcoming.