Customer service – an urban myth?

Recently I took a friend to a Virgin Mobile dealer so she could hook up her iphone.  One reason she wanted Virgin is that Virgin is the company I’m with and I can get phone reception using my iphone in her basement while her husband, who has his Blackberry with someone else, can’t.

The salesman was very helpful, going through the various plans and explaining what things meant.  The plan she eventually chose was better than the plan I was on, so I asked if I could switch.  I asked about any charges for the upgrade and was told any charge would appear on my bill.  When the bill came in, it was four times the usual amount.

Examining the bill, I noticed a charge of $150 with some cryptic description, which I eventually deciphered as the charge for the upgrade.  Feeling this charge was out of line, after all I’d upgraded to a more expensive plan  therefore they’d be getting more money from me, I called customer service.  When I finally got a real person on the line, I explained what I wanted and questioned the amount.  This lady asked if I could hold while she checked my account.  After a few minutes of some weird music, she came back and the first words out of her mouth were “well, your balance is quite huge…”.  I told her I knew and wanted an explanation for the hundred and a half they charged me.  I was told I’d have to take that up with the store.  My friend and I had gone to a store near her home, which is not in the same city I live in.  So to dispute it, I’d have to pay $60 round trip cab and train fare at a minimum.  Somehow, when someone calls in to question something on their bill, telling that customer their balance is “quite huge” doesn’t exactly seem like customer service.

If any of my readers live in an area where Rogers is the cable/internet/landline provider, here’s something to keep in mind.  I have all of the above from Rogers, for which services I was able to get some discounts through various promotions when I signed up, which was good as my sole income is a (small) government pension.  My cable was for a one year term and near the end of that year, I called Rogers customer service, asking if there were any discounts or promotions I could take advantage of for the cable portion of the bill.  I was told there wasn’t but I’d still get my three dollar discount for something or other.  Not being satisfied with this, I thanked her for her time, and hung up.  A few minutes later, I called Rogers back and this time asked to speak with someone in sales.  I explained why  was calling, mentioned the pension and said if there was nothing I could take advantage of, I’d have to consider cutting services.  That was all it took.  By the time the gentleman was finished, I had new discounts on all three services, and the total was less than I’d been paying previously.  By calling sales, rather than being content with the three dollar discount mentioned by customer service, I’ve saved about $60 a month on my Rogers bill.

Years ago I was a cab driver and dispatcher for a small fleet in Pickering.  Based on the ethics of the owner, a couple of others and myself referred to him as “the eighth dwarf – Sleazy”.  He had no qualms about lying to customers on the phone, as was shown one night when I was dispatching and he happened to still be there.

If you call for a taxi, it is common to be told approximately how long it will be before a cab arrives.  This particular night it was especially busy and we were running late in servicing calls.  He heard me tell one customer it would be about twenty minutes.  His response was to tell me – loudly, he never used a normal voice with me – I should have told them ten minutes.  He couldn’t seem to understand my logic as I explained we were busy and by saying twenty minutes I was being truthful with the customer.  He was also lost when I said that had I told them twenty minutes and we have a car there in ten, they’ll think we’re great, but if I told them ten and it took twenty, that customer would call our competitor next time.  To this man, “customer service” meant “what can the customer do for me?”

It is unfortunate that so many places seem to hire people for customer service who haven’t the faintest idea of the concept of “customer service”.  These people are no doubt also those who would complain loudest if customer service at some place with which they deal couldn’t solve their problem.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

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