Those of you that know me know that I’m at my most vicious when I come across poor marketing, or poor service, but there is one other thing that really gets me riled up: Outright lies to sucker a customer in. Network Solutions is the latest example.
Looking on Google to find a vendor, I saw a special offer from Network Solutions for SSL certificates at $9.99. This is a Google Ad, right above the first search result, so they’re paying money to be there. Keep this in mind for the next part.
I’m already a Network Solutions customer, so the fit is already good. Top that with a crazy low price of $9.99 and there’s absolutely no reason not to go there.
I click on the link, and I get this page:
The page compares Network Solutions with Godaddy, Digicert and GeoTrust to further highlight both the functionality and the lower price of the $9.99 offer.
Needless to say I’m sold. Click on the “Get an EV SSL Certificate button” and you get this:
So far so good. Next, to pay, I log into my account, select the payment method, and the total recalculates:
What? From $9.99 to $549?
Fearing that I’ve made some kind of noob mistake on a limited time offer, or an offer for new customers only, I go back and reread everything. No mention at all of an expiration, no new customer prerequisite. No mistake.
My next step was to call up the service line at Network Solutions, where a very polite rep tells me that it was a limited offer some time ago, but that she could offer me, by way of compensation, a 40% discount on an SSL certificate. Let me do that math real quick here: 40% of $549 is a savings of $219.60, leaving me to pay only $329.40
That’s more than GoDaddy, more than Digicert, and even more than GeoTrust, whose $299 rate is now starting to seem like a bargain.
So, in case you’re keeping track, Network Solutions is paying for an ad placement with Google, maintains a special offer set of pages and product code that you can put into a cart at $9.99 only to switch up the price at checkout. Any way you slice this is at least misleading, at most outright lying.
I have to wonder how many sales they end up making like this. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling a little cheated on reaching that checkout page.
If you ask me this is a classic case of “blowing it” online, from what used to be the #1 registrar. Food for thought.
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