by Ann Zuraw | Featured Contributor
Many financial decisions we make is because we think there is an advantage to being loyal to a particular company, product or service.
The plumber who came when you were desperate, and the toilet was overflowing did a great job and didn’t overcharge you. Do you keep calling him back? Yes, of course!
You choose to fly the same airline so that you can build on your frequent flier miles, do they treat you any better? My chosen airline gives me the benefit of faster bag delivery. This carrier will definitely keep me booking tickets, even if it is a little more expensive, I know I can rely on their services.
Many of us believe our history of loyalty will bring us better service and reliability in return. The question is, does it?
For example, we were loyal customers of a cell phone service provider since we first began using cell phones. In our mind, the length of the relationship meant loyalty, and this would provide benefits of some kind or was it complacency, and we were just too lazy to change the carrier. The final straw came when we traded in our old phone for a $25 credit at the cell phone store, and one week later the police came to our house to notify us that it was sold illegally by an employee.
On another occasion, our daughter was at a store in San Francisco, and another employee opened an additional cell phone line forging her signature. Both situations were hard to handle, and our loyalty to the cell phone company did not turn out to be beneficial.
How many times have you been on the phone trying to deal with a charge that is incorrect and you’re whooshed to the supervisor who quickly credits your account? Never… Basically, in this day and age—it does not always pay to be polite. When calling to resolve an issue with many companies today, we must be prepared to hang on for long periods of time as we are transferred from one department to another before we find someone who can help us with our problem.
This process can take hours of our time and wreak havoc on our nervous system especially when after a long wait for assistance you finally explain the problem and the call conveniently disconnects. I cannot tell you how many times and how many people have complained about this very problem. I remember learning early on that the best way to get a person to help you with the cable TV company was to keep saying retention. Basically, we have to be prepared to “cut the cord” to get help.
Credit cards can be the worst. They capture us, especially if we are using their auto pay. But come on people, stop getting taken advantage of, wake up and change companies if it makes sense.
Don’t get me started on the health insurance industry. We pay for a policy that we believe has us covered, but every time we submit a claim, and it is denied, we have a battle on our hands.
We can’t be lazy, and we can’t make excuses that somehow, they are going to do the right thing for us. We must be our own advocate. “NGU” Never Give up! Keep asking and stay on the phone, don’t let “them” win. Be proactive and change credit cards, cell phone providers, financial advisors—if you are not being treated fairly.
Unfortunately, we must face the fact that loyalty doesn’t always benefit us when choosing of today’s products and services. (Although I will stick with my plumber until death.) The lesson may be to know who or what company does value our loyalty. I know they’re out there and loyalty does mean a lot in our personal lives. So let’s take a stand and choose products and services that value loyalty.
This is why when we choose a financial advisor, we all deserve a fiduciary. A fiduciary is legally bound to put your interest first. We have a right to understand the fees—and that means all of them…trading, mutual fund expense ratios, investment management fees, etc.
Loyalty does matter, but laziness never does anyone any good.