Unnecessary Legitimate Services
Do You Really Need That?
Today I want to talk about legitimate services that are totally unnecessary. We are all familiar with pop-up ads warning that your computer is infected with some bogus software, and if you click a button for a small amount (usually under $25) you can download software that will restore your system. But what happens when you get a legitimate e-mail offering a service that you actually use?
I run a consulting company and am registered in a Federal database called SAM (System for Award Management). The SAM database has personal information about my company, the services offered, who can submit a bid on behalf of the company, and more.
Recently, I received an e-mail with the subject “Renewal Support” stating that renewal in the database must be completed within the next 90 days. For a fee of $399, this company would handle the renewal process. Unlike most spam solicitation, this e-mail is from a totally legitimate business. I checked the URL – there were no redirects, the phone number provided was not on a SPAM list, and the e-mail contained a very realistic rendering of the office SAM logo.
However: registering, renewing, and updating your SAM registration is absolutely free.
More importantly, the process for updating the SAM database takes less than 10 minutes. This business is effectively charging about $2400 per hour for their services.
Be Cost Effective
What other legitimate services that are offered that are unnecessary? The most obvious is warranties. I recently purchase a shredder from a local office supply company for $179. The manufacturer provides a two-year warranty and for $39 to extend the warranty for two more years. However, I purchased the shredder with an American Express card, which automatically extended the warranty two years. This means essentially I would be paying $39 for nothing. Not all decisions are this easy, but in general, there is no sense in paying for services when cheaper alternative are available.
Finally, three years ago I was forced to purchase a new cell phone when the one that I was using fell and shattered. I was offered a warranty for an additional $10 per month. Since the reason I got a new phone was because I dropped it, rather than a defect, I decided to purchase a phone case for about $20. I have since dropped my phone several times without damage, so the case works extremely well. The point is that you should always evaluate the service you are going to purchase and determine if there is a more cost-effective solution.
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