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Take it from Dr. Horrible: Bait and switch sucks.

“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” is a damned entertaining video. It’s a (I swear I’m not making this up) musical superhero story built around a meek villian’s blog, with punchlines and pathos both. In fact, it’s one of the most enjoyable “TV shows” I’ve seen in a while. One of my favorite scenes? When mild villian Dr. Horrible asks his milder minion, Moist, about his date the previous night:

Dr. Horrible: “Conflict Diamond told me you were doubling with Bait ‘n’ Switch”

Moist: “Yeah…”
Dr. Horrible: “Yeah…?”
Moist: “It was alright. I kind of thought I was supposed to end up with Bait…”

The thing is, bait ‘n’ switch only works as a punchline. Otherwise it’s a punch in the gut. For your bottom line, too. Robert Gorell at GrokDotCom talked a while back about how last-minute price jumps can kill conversion.

I’m dealing with a similar thing now. I’m a big fan of Mozy, a low-cost online backup utility for Windows and MacOS. Pay a few dollars each month and backups just happen in the background. But here’s the thing. What the folks at Mozy didn’t tell me before I signed up is how challenging it is to restore. Their preferred method for getting my archived data back to me? Ship me DVDs, at a cost of roughly $100. That’s not a terribly high price to pay for backups. If you look at productivity costs, it’s fairly inexpensive. And, as long term readers know, quality backups can save your business.

But nowhere in their sign-up materials does the company make clear this back-end cost. And it’s considerably more than the $2.40 monthly charge I’ve been paying to have my data archived. So, instead, I’m using their (painfully slow) download service. I’ve been working on restoring files for the last 7 hours and, so far, have restored 650 MB of files to my new hard drive. Out of 40GB. At that pace, I’ll be completely restored in 18 days. Am I happy? Not particularly. But mainly because no one told me up front what to expect.

Your service is valuable to your customers, too. It meets their needs, satisfies, and delights. Save the surprises and twist endings for cop shows. And for superhero musical blogs.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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