Fun exercise! How would you warn your customer about a $50 late fee for an $8 purchase?

Not too long ago, I was slapped on the wrist with a $50 fee for returning my first Zipcar late. To rent the car for an hour was only around $8, so as you can imagine, I was shocked when I saw my final bill. Of course, I called and the customer service rep was kind and generous enough to reimburse me. He also encouraged me to sign up for alerts so that I can get a heads up about when my reservation was expiring. Like an obedient kid, I listened and signed up.

Disclaimer: This is not meant to bash or support Zipcar in any way. It's just a real-world example of how we can use content strategy and tech writing skills to solve a problem.

Now that I've learned my lesson the hard way, did you think the late fee would be equivalent to booking another hour or was $50 a surprise to you too? Who knows, maybe this is a profitable avenue for Zipcar, but let's pretend that they have an objective to prevent customers from calling about late fees.

Oh! Let's not forget about the customer who may have made a reservation after I did. They would have gotten their car late which makes for bad customer experiences all around. So, our objective here is to reduce the number of complaints about late fees and late cars.

Watch this short video below, put on your tech writing hat, and answer the questions below:

  • Where on the website would you warn customers like me about a late fee?
  • Would you tell me after I've made my reservation or before?
  • Would it be a pop-up alert or some type of warning message in my confirmation email?
  • What type of help article would you write to help customers avoid late fees?
  • Would your tone be positive or negative? See the "Return on time" article in the video.
  • Would you try to disguise the fee amount or make it more transparent?