We’re all familiar with the Walmart model that promises everyday low prices. Walmart, along with other big box stores have pushed many a small business out of business causing the mindset that bigger is better.
HOW VALUABLE IS VALUE
In many cases, bigger companies are competing on price and claiming that consumers should shop there. The problem with basing everything on price is that price is not the only part of the equation. There is also the “value” component.
You may be able to buy a product cheaper at a big box store, but what is their return policy? What is the quality of the low-priced product? Are you receiving the features that you actually need in the product?
These questions are all about the value that you receive. And in many cases, low price = low value. Sometimes you can find a good deal, but more often than not, it seems that “you get what you pay for”. This is especially true when it comes to companies that provide services instead of products.
At my company, we get the unpleasant task of dealing with big investment companies when a prospective client transfers their investments to us. And as a result, we’re reminded that Bigger is Not Always Better.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
Let me give you an example. Recently a client had an investment that he had purchased through a large nationally known investment firm prior to working with us. The investment operated in a fashion similar to a CD in that it was set up to automatically renew.
Our client decided to transfer the investment to our firm so that he could consolidate it with his other investments with us. The kicker was that we had to transfer it before it renewed; otherwise, the client would face thousands of dollars in surrender fees.
Our custodian submitted the transfer paperwork to the investment company well in advance of the renewal date (approximately 1 month in advance). To make a long story short, the investment company stated that they didn’t receive all of the pages of the transfer form. As a result, there was a delay causing the investment to automatically renew. Shortly thereafter, the investment transferred to our firm and we discovered that the client was missing about $4,000.
We contacted the investment company requesting that they return the $4,000 to our client. After all, how could they claim that they actually “earned” the $4,000?
The investment company chose to focus on the legal letter of the law citing that they withheld the $4,000 because they were legally entitled to and because it wasn’t their fault that all of the paperwork wasn’t initially received (which by the way our custodian states that all of the paperwork was initially sent). He said, she said.
It was obvious that the “intent” of our client was to transfer his account well in advance of the renewal date. But the investment company was unwilling to part with the $4,000.
At that point, we informed the investment company that we would likely be seeking legal counsel on behalf of our client. This wasn’t a ploy. We were actually considering this as an option. A few days later, we received a phone call from the investment company stating that they were going to release the $4,000 and give it back to the client.
Believe it or not, this whole process took four months. We fought a long time for our client and ultimately got back the money that was rightfully due him. Unfortunately the investment company is not going to compensate our client for lost interest over the 4 month period. Another terrible customer service move.
TOO BIG TO FAIL ???
Whatever happened to the days of win-win transactions. Maybe I’m naive and those days never existed. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was an even playing field whereby both the consumer and company felt like they received equal value and no one was taken advantage of. However, everything these days seems lopsided in the favor of the large institutions (“too big to fail” immediately comes to mind). And the one who keeps getting screwed over and over is the consumer.
WHEN RIGHT IS WRONG
This was a terrible customer service experience for our client. So much so that he will likely do everything he can to tell his friends and family never to use this particular investment company.
He didn’t care that it was the investment company’s “right” to keep his money. Even though it was legally their right, it was WRONG.
We’ve all heard companies say that they can or can’t do something because “it’s their policy”. That might be a legitimate comment from time to time, but for once I’d like to see a company recognize that there are exceptions.
At the end of the day, I suppose that this whole experience validates our client’s decision to work with us.
If you’ve had a bad experience working with a larger investment / financial planning firm and don’t feel like you’re getting the value you deserve, then I invite you to check us out.
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Brad E.S. Tinnon
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
P.S. We would love to hear any examples of how you’ve experienced “Bigger Is Not Always Better” (I already know what you’re thinking so don’t even go there – LOL). Please share them below. Stay tuned as I will be sharing another example soon.
Photo courtesy of Cloganese