The “Convenience” of Being Screwed

Have you noticed that everything has a “convenience” fee? Pay your bill online: convenience fee, $3.95. Want to talk to a real person? Convenience fee, $3.95. Get some of your money out of your bank account: convenient fee from the bank, $2, and fee from the ATM provider, $1.50… They spin it as a convenience for you, like they’re saving you a hassle, but it’s pretty much a convenient way for them to scrape a little more money out of your wallet.

The other day, I ordered a new Proactiv kit. I the stuff it once almost every day, so I don’t go through it as quckly as they “recommend” you do. I do like it the best out of all the clean-face products and systems I’ve tried, so I’m willing to purchase it repeatedly, but I’m not a fan of the automatic shipment and billing process.

For a few years, I’ve been getting my product refills from eBay because if you do it that way, you don’t have to subscribe to the automatic shipments, and sometimes they’re a little cheaper. In the meantime, though, the eBay vendors have caught on to this and raised their prices, and the Proactiv prices have gone down…. (Or I thought so, at least.)

I looked at the Proactiv site for the first time in a few years, just to see how the product prices compared, and discovered that they had a 30 day kit available for $19.99, which is quite a lot cheaper than what was available on eBay. So, I ordered it. That ended up costing $21.35.  I forgot that ordering automatically signs you up for “convenient monthly shipments”, so a few weeks later when I got a box with a significantly larger kit and a charge on my credit card for $39.86, I thought, “Good grief, that was expensive. But, this is a lot of product, so I’ll just keep it and change my order frequency to ‘never’.” I tried to change the frequency on the website, but the furthest out was 11 weeks… So I did that, at least.

But then, lo and behold, a month later I get a charge: RECUR PURCHASE. GRC*PROACTIV SOLUTION 800-2420364 CA $32.94. I thought maybe they hadn’t gotten the memo that I didn’t want a monthly shipment, but nothing came in the mail. I e-mailed them to complain about it and asked for the charge to be cancelled, and got this very carefully-worded response. I’ve conveniently highlighted the very special introductory offer keywords for you for a convenience fee of only $3.95 (billed in 3 monthly installments of $2.82).

Dear Molly,
Thank you for your inquiry.
Here’s some information on how our billing process works: when you place an order for an introductory kit at the special low member price, you also enroll in our convenient replenishment program.  After the initial order, you’ll be sent a 90-day supply of our amazing Proactiv products.  For your convenience, you are billed in three monthly installments instead of paying the whole amount at one time.  As part of your member benefits, each installment is the same low price as your introductory kit.
Your account as of April 10, 2015:
Your last package was sent out on February 26, 2015.
The balance that was taken out of your account around April 1, 2015 was the second installment for the package mentioned above. The balance remaining on the account is $32.94 and that will be taken out of your card on file 28 days after the last payment was removed.
Your next shipment date is scheduled for the week of July 16, 2015.
And remember, you can choose which of your favorite products you receive in your shipments, view your order status and history, update your shipping frequency, and shop our great products online.
We are always here to help with any questions you may have.  Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-309-4796 anytime.
Thank you,
The Proactiv Customer Service Team

Let me just start by telling you how conveniently angry this made me. According to the math they’re trying to sell me, $19.99 (which is actually $21.35) is the same as $39.86, which is the same as $32.94. “For your convenience, you are billed in three monthly installments instead of paying the whole amount at one time.  As part of your member benefits, each installment is the same low price as your introductory kit.” The introductory kit was “$19.99”, guys.

Since I opened the “convenient replenishment”, I suppose I’ll have to pay for it, but I’m curious to see how much “$19.99” is going to cost me next month. I’m definitely going back to buying my face soap on the gray market. They’re less shady.

Thumbs down, Proactiv. Thumbs conveniently replenished automatically at the same low member satisfaction down.

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