Sometimes, you just don’t want all the bells and whistles

Just because you can be no reason that you should. Imagine listening to the pair in our picture coming home after a night on the tiles, full of bonhomie and Bollinger. This is a time when having all the bells and whistles (and particularly the whistles) is highly undesirable. That’s why they should come with an ‘off’ switch, says our blogger Stuart Pearcey.

Whoever said ‘less is more’ was talking through his hat. If less is more, then, inescapably, more must also be less.

But who wants more? Perhaps the people trying to sell you something want more of your money, with the result that you’ll pay ‘more’ to get the bits you actually want.

Like the TV service provider which trumpeted it was going to provide, at a small extra charge, a channel showing UK soccer matches. Now, I don’t want to appear ungrateful, as I explained to the man I rang to talk about the bill, but soccer doesn’t interest me, and I certainly don’t want to pay for a TV channel devoted to it. Removing it from my contract would have meant I was getting less, but it would be infinitely more enjoyable as far as I was concerned.

However, it wasn’t that simple. There was no mechanism to switch off the soccer, so there it sits, like a pickpocket, snaffling money from me on a monthly basis so that I can watch what I do want to watch. I’m not sure I understand the offside rule, but this must be it.

Two for one?
Or what of the two for one deal offered by the well-known burger chain a few years back? Buy one, get one free. Fine if two people walked up to the counter together, but what of the single ‘diner’? No discrimination here. He or she got two of what they ordered anyway, with a comment from the team member: “But it’s free.” If he was talking about the burger or the coronary wasn’t immediately obvious. In the light of the UK’s current obesity crisis, little wonder that their mascot is a clown.

Anyway, who’s in charge here? It used to be me. I remember the days when the customer was always right, and that’s stayed with me.

Perhaps you’ve gathered that I much prefer to have what I want from a supplier of goods or services, rather than what they want me to have. Which is why the new business model from Solo Expenses is so refreshing when it comes to expense management software. As apps get more and more sophisticated, clever developers can add more and more features, much to the annoyance of those amongst us who’d rather not, thanks. Solo Expenses has recognised that and modified its travel and expense management software accordingly.

Free for life
The software’s dashboard has a series of features simply and carefully laid out. Some are always free and have a little flag to say so. As for the rest, they can be turned on and off at will, adding in or removing features you might, or might not, want.

Now this is really novel. It puts the customer in the driving seat (notice I’m sticking with the dashboard analogy), concentrating on what’s important at the expense of what really isn’t, as far as I’m concerned.

Turning features on and off is not only simple – and single click will do it – ­but it has an immediate impact on the bill. Add a feature, and it’ll be added to the bill. Turn one off, and you won’t be billed for it any more. Isn’t that wonderful? That means you can add something to see if it works for you, and if it doesn’t, you can set it aside with no worries about being trapped in a long-term contract.

So full marks to Solo Expenses for putting the customer first, and not squeezing money out of us for something we don’t want and will never use. After all, success in business is based on mutually-supporting relationships built of trust, in which neither partner is made poorer at the expense of the other.

And Solo Expenses is confident that investment in its small business expense management software will quickly pay for itself by delivering the visibility on expenses that will allow savings to be made with no loss of business efficiency.

That’s a philosophy I can work with. And no, I don’t want fries with it.