Let's say an online service worsens its subscription terms (e.g. charges extra for some hidden fees) once they reach some sufficient market saturation. Many users will not read the general terms of service updates, etc and only notice many years later. This is not really fair business and many users will feel betrayed once they realize that the service that used to be good has cost twice as many in the last few years etc.

What is this step called when a business switches from competitive to greedy without real upfront communication? The word or phrase does not need to necessarily reflect bad intent just this kind of 'making money by worsening the terms at the expense of long time customers'.

Example usage (I will use 'greedy switch' as placeholder):

John is regularly reviews his subscription plans' terms to make sure the business partners don't [do this greedy switch].

Jane recommended this banking service to her friends for its good terms a few years ago but since then they [greedy switched] and we are better of without them.

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    Probably few if any apparent examples of such "overselling" were intended at the time the business plan was produced, so there wouldn't be much use for the term except as an (often, unjustly applied) pejorative label to be attached in hindsight to failing overoptimistic commercial ventures. And in the vast majority of cases, if the only way a service company can "make money" is by reducing the quality of the service, that's just a short-term desperate measure before the company folds or the service is discontinued anyway. In short, it's not exactly a "money-making tactic". Oct 26, 2020 at 13:15
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    Two words – stealth charges Oct 26, 2020 at 13:17
  • @FumbleFingers, thank you for the comment, indeed it is usually not the strategy from the beginning but a later switch due to pressure/greed. In fact I am more interested to find a phrase or word for the 'act of switching to greedy mode' of the business regardless of original plan. I updated my question to reflect that, thank you. Oct 26, 2020 at 13:31
  • This is now "standard practice" in the UK insurance and banking industries. Insurers raise the renewal premium by a considerable amount, hoping people will renew without noticing. You have to be proactive and phone for a discount, or change to another company. In the banking world, the law allows them to reduce interest rates paid on savings without informing the saver, if it is small. So they continually bring out new "products" with attractive rates and then reduce the interest as soon as they can, and again, the saver must continually shop around. Oct 26, 2020 at 13:34
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    This is bait and switch. You bring customers in under one set of circumstances, and later hit them with the negative: That is no longer available, You wouldn't really want that stinker, That offer's open under very special circumstances that don't apply now. Oct 26, 2020 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


A coverall phrase is sharp practice

Sharp practice or sharp dealing is a pejorative phrase to describe sneaky or cunning behavior that is technically within the rules of the law but borders on being unethical. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharp_practice

Apart from that, I think stealth increases and stealth downgrades might serve. I can't think of a pithy phrase to include both terms except perhaps stealth degradation of service.

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