JUST PAY PROCESSING MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM
"'Just pay processing' really means 'just actually pay for it.'"
TV informercials and the shorter 60 second ads complete with often times loud-speaking, high-strung, excited pitchmen are nothing new. Nowadays Billy Mays would readily come to mind. Before he passed away in 2009 he had literally become a household name, and was associated with myriad products and gadgets that, by his proclamation, were sure to make life just a little bit more fun, and a lot more easy. Lately that ShamWow guy, Vince Schlomi has been becoming fairly well-known on the airwaves, also selling the popular Slap Chop, and delivering lines like "You're gonna love my nuts." And who can ever forget Ron Popeil's hair in a can, and especially his Showtime Rottiserie, which he is probably most well known for selling?
Ever since the television set was invented, and personalities hit the airwaves, there was a pitchman trying to sell something to the watching consumer. Direct marketing, which is what most of the abovementioned things are a part of, has been around for ages. I'm not sure that Sears was the first, but certainly the Sears catalog became a very popular hit for many years after the then, R.W. Sears Watch Co., released it's first direct mail order catalog in 1888 featuring mainly watches and jewelry. After the company became Sears, Roebuck & Company around 1893, the catalogs were expanded to include saddles, bicycles, clothing, baby carriages, and firearms among other popular items of the period. The main catalog ceased publication in 1993, but slowly the company has been releasing newer, more concise, product oriented catalogs, especially for its highly popular Craftsman brand of tools, and certainly the company has long been embracing the power of the Internet as online shopping becomes more and more popular among consumers.
But I'm not here to talk about the history of this industry. The fact is, I am not a historian, though I will readily admit that looking into the history of direct marketing, or anything business for that matter, is highly fascinating to me. It's definitely worth taking a closer look on your own if that so suits your fancy.
What I am here to talk about is one simple phrase that has become all too common in current direct marketing ads. It just grates on me terribly. Every time I hear it I absolutely want to jump out of my chair and grab the pitchman right out of my TV screen and pull him up by his lapels, and even slap him around a few times.
Yes. I kid you not. There are definitely certain things in life that have a sort of an effect on me. I'll open the door right here and now, so go ahead come on through and call me a nut job. You may not be too far off-base by any account, or though my wife has suggested that to me a time or two in one of my frequent, fruitless rants directed at the TV, which mostly tend to materialize while watching political commentary.
This seems to increase in verocity and intensity when I'm listening to democrats. Imagine that.
"Why are you yelling?" my wife often asks, perplexed, and with a scolding look on her face.
"Because it just makes me mad, that's why."
"You know they can't hear you," she reminds me, a little too matter-of-factly for my liking.
"I know. But it makes me feel good," I explain back.
Still, I'm certain that my explanation serves no real good whatsoever in belaying her thought that I may, at times, be a little bit too engaged with the TV people that are quite real, but not real in my living room. Although a time or two I've sworn to have seen a slight wince from a commenter or two on my screen, and saw them reach up for their ear piece.
Oh. Yes, yes. On to the phrase. It's when the pitchman tells me I can have something for free when I buy whatever it is they are trying to sell me. They say "Just pay processing."
That's it. Just pay processing.
It grates me because it used to be that back in the day when someone gave you something for free, it was exactly that. Free. If I ordered something via direct mail or ordered it off of the TV, something I rarely if ever do by the way, and a free item came along with that, I didn't have to pay anything for it. I could order a wonderful set of ultra-sharp knives for just $19.95. I'd get a chopping block for free with my order. Still just $19.95. Then I might also get a beautifully crafted wooden knife block and my total would still be just $19.95. They may also have thrown in a couple extra knives to add to my collection, and of course, get me into that zone where a good deal just keeps better and better and increasingly irresistible. Perhaps I might get a fancy paring knife, a filet knife, a meat cleaver to make even Jason from the Friday the 13th movies grin a little bit and reconsider it over his more preferred machete.
At the end of the whole pitch it would be "all this for just $19.95," and then "plus shipping and handling."
I fully expect that part. Of course everyone knows that there are going to be costs tacked on by the shipper to put all the goods in a box and get it all promptly shipped off to the customer. But somewhere along the line something changed. Suddenly, now those "free" items all come at an additional price. Each free item. And processing is no cheap thing. It's also not for the shipping cost.
On average processing fees are around $6-$10. The more free items they "give" you, the higher the price becomes that you eventually pay. "Get this free paring knife, just pay processing, and this free filet knife, just pay processing, and this free chopping block..."
Yeah, just pay processing.
By the time all is said and done you might wind up spending $50 for all that free stuff. Okay, perhaps that a little bit exaggerated, but perhaps not nearly as exaggerated as you might think. Once you get on the phone with them they'll have tons more "free" stuff to offer you, and programs and gimmicks and saver's clubs.
Don't ever think it will be a quick call.
So I yell at my TV. I yell at those pitchmen who can't hear me. I spit fire when I hear the term "just pay processing."
But I'm not just mad at them. I'm mad at you. I'm mad at the ever faithful and willing consumer. I'm mad because we've let this happen. We are allowing them to make us pay for stuff that is supposed to be free. It's our fault.
The old saying in business is "charge what the consumer is willing to bear." If we're willing to let them charge us for all the free goodies they want to throw in they'll just go right on doing it. And the more profitable selling free stuff becomes, you can bet the more free stuff we'll wind up just paying processing for.
We've got to wise up. Not be so willing to part with our hard-earned money. We have to start acting like customers again and demand more from these companies for every dollar we spend on them. Right now the companies who sell us stuff think they are in charge. Until we say "no," they are in charge.