Beware the hidden costs of technology

Beware of the systems and solutions which market themselves as being free but have a multitude of hidden costs.

Beware the hidden costs of technology

Neal Jannels is managing director of One Mortgage System (OMS)

As a father of three beautiful girls, I understand just how much technology has helped maintain my sanity over the past few months.

It’s difficult to manage ‘screen time’ at the best of times but with so little else to do under lockdown restrictions this has sadly, but inevitably, been lifted to new heights.

I’m sure every person, couple and family has watched more TV/films/series, listened to more music and/or played more video games than ever before.

And I’m sure that many people have been lured in by free trials when it comes to new platforms on which to view, listen and/or play. For example, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify Premium all offer free trials, amongst many others.

While these can be great services and prove good value for many people, there are others who sign up for the free trial, don’t realise the auto-renewal function is enabled, forget to cancel the subscription and start being charged without realising or never get around to cancelling.

There are even some platforms who make it so difficult to cancel these trials or subscriptions that some people simply give up.

Suffice to say that while free things may actually be free for a limited time, they aren’t necessarily free forever. This also applies to a number of tech systems and solutions which lure people in with a free basic version.

These are designed to offer people just a taste of the full version. Or in the immortal words of Jim Bowen on Bullseye ‘Let's have a look at what you could've won’. Sadly, in many cases, the only ones winning are the firms who are capitalising on people who end up paying for a product they didn’t actually want and/or don’t actually use.

I’m sure we’re all guilty of signing up for something we don’t necessary want and paying for it longer than we should. But we should all be a little more cautious in a time where an increasing number of products, services and solutions will emerge, and this is not only the case in our personal lives.

When it comes to any intermediary firm’s business requirements, they should be asking even more questions over the software they use, the systems they implement and the solutions they opt for.

Here at OMS, we believe that when brokers choose a system, they should get everything from day one and there should be full transparency and disclosure from the start about all the features which are available to them.

Beware of the systems and solutions which market themselves as being free but have a multitude of hidden costs for even the most basic of additional features.

These additional extras soon add up and before you know it you might end up with a four-figure bill and being tied-in to a system which you initially thought was cost-effective but in the longer-term works out far more expensive and less efficient than another product on the market.

As with any tech subscription, intermediaries really need to do their homework and undertake some due diligence to make sure that its not only the right solution for their business but that is does not come with any hidden, unexpected costs.

So, before entering into any agreement ask yourself – does free really mean free?