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Why Am I Not Surprised?

May 15th, 2007

No, it’s not political this time. But it is a gripe. I sent my mom a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day. Used one of the online ordering services because it’s kind of hard to hand-deliver from five thousand miles away. The thing is, on their web site, FTD gives you prices for your gift with no hint of any extra fees. Of course, one would expect such fees–sellers often hide extra charges for as long as they can, to make you believe that the final price will be as low as they can get you to believe. But the “service charges”–revealed only after you’ve finished filling out most of the forms–were nearly half the cost of the bouquet. A little excessive.


Are there no laws that require up-front reporting on all costs, before the person has gone through most of the process? It’s more than just slightly dirty pool–wait until not only the person has already finalized their decision as to what to buy, but has also gone through so much of the process of filling stuff out that it is less likely they’ll turn back. It also means that it is much harder to comparison-shop, and before you can get to the full-charges page, you have to have given addresses, email, phone numbers, and all sorts of other spamalicious info.

Japan, interestingly, has taken things a step in the other direction: final prices must be revealed at the get-go. In stores prices must be advertised in their post-sales-tax amount–even a charge as obvious as that has to be spelled out. Why can’t the U.S. government require that? (Yes, I know they won’t, and we all know why. Isn’t cynicism swell?)

Happy Mother’s Day!

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