Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Two Stories of Customer Service

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the writer from a lawsuit.

For once, we leave the worlds of politics and public policy to vent a little. Kindly cut The Curmudgeon a little slack.
After spending more than a half-hour on hold awaiting customer "service" from his internet service provider (let's call them "ATT Your Service Internet"), The Curmudgeon decided he'd move his business to a company that was offering a better price for faster service. We'll call this company Cumquat.
So he goes online with Cumquat and orders their service. They have a really attractive first-twelve-months rate of $39.99 for really fast internet plus a bunch of neat streaming options. It only takes a few minutes to jump through the internet hoops and soon The Curmudgeon has an email in the inbox with the message

Good news! Your order is confirmed.

But instead of the $39.99 price shown on the website, the price has magically increased to $44.99/month. A call to customer "service" results in an "adjustment" to the rate ... but no apology for the computer-generated up-charge.
Since The Curmudgeon is handy with the wires, he had opted for the self-install option to save the $99 installation fee. And he orders a cable modem online from a company named after a big river so he doesn't have to rent one from Cumquat. All of this happens in late November.
That "Good News" email says nothing about needing to do anything other than wait for the super-easy self-install package and follow the instructions. When the package arrives, The Curmudgeon notes that the instructions basically say plug one end of the cable into the wall, the other into the modem. There's nothing about getting the internet signal from the Cumquat box (that's out back along the property line) to the wall which, as it turns out, is kind of important.
Now it's mid-December (three weeks after the "Great News" email), and the modem has arrived. He contacts Cumquat to ask them when they are going to connect their service from the utility box outside to his domicile. He now learns that the Cumquat definition of "self-install" apparently includes climbing up the poll, figuring out which wire is the internet, and then stringing a line to his house. So he reluctantly accepts their kind offer to pay them to provide him with a wire connecting him to the service they have so kindly agreed to sell him.
But they can't install it for another 2 weeks. All told, it would add up to a month from "Great News" until they get around to actually providing the service.
The Curmudgeon tells the courteous online customer service representative (who speaks excellent English for someone who lives in Bangalore) thanks, but no thanks, I'll go elsewhere. "If your company is this big a pain when trying to sign up a new customer, I can only imagine how much more it will suck once you have lured me in." The CS rep faithfully tries to dissuade The Curmudgeon but, being a curmudgeon, he sticks with his decision.
Meanwhile, he has a brand-new $100 cable modem that just arrived from the river company. It takes just two mouse clicks to get a return authorization for a full refund (minus return shipping). That is how customer service is supposed to work.
The river company maintain customer loyalty by putting the customer first.  Cumquat could learn a lot from them.
And The Curmudgeon is mindful of the fact that Cumquat is leading the charge for the FCC to change the rules on internet access in a way that would give it more of a stranglehold on the internet in a way I'm pretty sure we won't like.

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