I was looking into a subscription for a well-known online information service recently and got frustrated by the lack of information. The first thing to come to my mind when I see this sort of thing is the old adage ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford it’.
I’ve blogged about firms not putting their prices on their website before – because they don’t want to show how they work out what you will pay. I think it’s partly because if they do, you might question “why should I pay more for a simple estate of £600,000 than a complex estate of £500,000?” But there are other reason why companies of all shapes and sizes withhold the information: to get you on the telephone.
Why is it so important to get you on the telephone? Well there’s two obvious reasons: one is to give you the hard sell. They think that if you have the information available, the time to consider carefully and compare, you’re less likely to buy. The second is that a person on the telephone can gauge your reactions, what sort of person you are, whether they will want business from you in the future. Of course, this is standard business practice and is not evil but doesn’t it all come down to the fact that the company isn’t offering a decent price/fee in the first place? The company doesn’t just have to pay for the website or the advertising, they have to pay for the salesman, too. The selling is that effective that the increase in price this tactic gets can pay for the salesman’s commission.
Are these tactics part of why it’s so hard to get an online fixed-fee quote for probate from a quality solicitor? Who wants to deal with a salesman at a time of grief? Is there are a reason why firms can’t put their price or pricing structure on their website? Don’t get me wrong – our staff are helpful, friendly and happy to spend the time on the phone to help if that’s what you prefer but shouldn’t you have the choice? I wonder how many people have the time to step away from their desk during working hours to have an in-depth conversation in a private place – possibly taking notes – or are surfing at 11pm, when they finally have ten minutes to sit down, in private, and really consider what’s on offer?
Not every estate is the same and for any firm offering fixed-fee online quotes there must be exceptions – ours our clearly stated on our website – but we try to be as clear as possible about what we charge and when that fee doesn’t apply. We won’t win everyone’s business but I hope the transparent pricing structure will help people realise there is an alternative to percentage-based and time billing pricing for probate. There really is such a thing as a genuine fixed-fee online probate quote.