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26 January, 2008

Predatory

Grr!  Isn't it infuriating when a phone company offers free calls of up to an hour in duration, but then charges for the full period if one accidentally overruns?

For example, a call to K. in November apparently lasted 62 minutes. If it had been 59'59', it'd have been free, so it'd be understandable to have to pay for the extra 2'. Nope; I've been charged for all 62.

It's a trivial amount of money, of course, but it leaves a nasty taste, as if the company is trying to trap customers.

Oddly enough, that's my primary memory of the shopkeepers, ticket sellers, etc. I encountered in New York in 2004 – perfectly polite and professionally friendly but radiating an impression that they were waiting to pounce on an innocent error, to exploit some term or condition and hence fleece a tourist.
I'm not saying they were actively trying to cheat anyone, but there was a basic lack of goodwill: they'd let a customer pay an avoidable tax or let a visitor accidently invalidate a ticket, when it'd have been so easy for them to intervene beforehand.

I remember watching an attendant at the Empire State Building who in turn watched an elderly couple gradually wander towards then through the wrong door, clearly by mistake. He then (politely) prevented them from re-entering. There's no denying that the visitors were technically at fault, but a word from the guard could have prevented them ruining their experience. Yet he waited, then struck.

I've never been so constantly aware of caveat emptor.

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