No price gouging please

For years I’ve subscribed to an online medical newsletter written by a noted health care professional. You might know his name if I told you. Although he’s a medical doctor, his views are a bit unorthodox, just outside the mainstream, which is one of the reasons I look forward to his thoughts. Sort of like getting a second opinion without all that pesky paperwork.

Recently, the doc started selling his own line of products: nutritional supplements, books and DVDs, home health care gadgets and the like. From a marketing standpoint, it makes good sense. He’s leveraging the trust and respect he’s built up over the years.

Still, I hadn’t considered buying anything until a few weeks ago, when he began touting a whey protein powder made from the organic milk of grass-fed cows. The $24.95 price tag for a month’s supply sounded fair, so I began the online checkout process. When it came time to choose a shipping option, I was astounded to see the lowest price at $14.95. This was for standard ground, not priority or next day. The package couldn’t have weighed more than a pound or two, so this looked like price gouging, plain and simple.

Just like that, I bailed from the site. The years of credibility and confidence that the good doctor had so painstakingly established vanished in an instant, replaced by disappointment. Maybe I was naïve, but up to that point, I believed he had his readers’ best interests at heart. Instead, he showed his true colors as just another garden-variety money-obsessed marketer.

I don’t expect anyone to give away products or services for free. I’m more than willing to pay a legit price. But please don’t take advantage. It’s a good business lesson for all of us. One bad misstep can undo everything. It behooves us to think before we leap.

Brian Rouff serves as managing partner for Imagine Communications. Email Brian at brouff@weareimagine.com.

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