Charging for something that is free – XDrive story

Should a company continue to charge for a service that they are now offering for free?

Let me explain my experience with Xdrive.

I had signed up for an Xdrive (provides storage space for a fee) account late last year as one or our projects had a need to constantly exchange large files with several vendors. After the project, I forgot about the account. Of course, I did remember it again when AOL (AOL acquired Xdrive) charged me $99++ for renewal of the service. This would seem fine but the problem was that the service that I had signed up for was almost offered for free. So, I called a representative and asked me to cancel the account and give me a refund. Not only was the representative very confused, she offered me only a partial refund. When I asked her for the logic, she would only say something that would start with “If you were an AOL member…”

There was no point in talking to her further as it would cost me more money (time) and chances were that I wouldn’t have succeeded anyway.

My $.02 for XDrive: Doing something “contractually right” at the expense of losing customer trust may provide some short-term profits but will cost you more in the long-run.