Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good customer service FOR ONCE (or twice)

Well! People certainly do have strong opinions about Lexus commercials, as it turns out. I have to say, I wasn't expecting to incite quite so much controversy with what I was thinking was a fluffy little post. But hey, the more discussion, the better, right?

Anyway, in the past couple of days I've had two amazing customer service experiences, and I feel compelled to share them here, because... well, if they'd been bad experiences I'd be ranting about them here, and really, it's only fair for it to go both ways, right?

So, first of all, the hard disk on my work laptop started making funky noises like it was going to die any second, and programs started crashing on my computer. On Monday, I contacted my company's IT department, who put me in touch with Dell directly. I was a little nervous about this, and picturing hours on the phone going from person to person with nobody able to help me (this has happened to me with Dell in the past).

But instead... well, it was amazing. I called up. In under five minutes, I was talking to a real person. I explained the problem to him. He had me run a couple simple tests on my computer. Then he said he'd have a new hard drive sent to me, free of charge. And a new adapter, too, because my computer has stopped recognizing mine. He had to talk to a supervisor to get approval for all this, so he said he'd call me back within an hour. I figured I'd never hear from him again, so imagine my surprise when 45 minutes later, my phone rang and it was him, confirming the shipment. And then, yesterday morning, the new adapter AND the new hard drive showed up at our door.

Seriously! The whole thing took me under 15 minutes on the phone, no ridiculous lengthy useless troubleshooting, nothing. AND it was free. I mean, I'm assuming this is because my company has some sort of enterprise-level contract with Dell, but still. It was AMAZING.

And then I decided to press my luck and call Comcast. We had a couple of promotions on our bill, worth a total of about $40 in savings, and they expired a month or two ago. At the time, I spoke to someone to ask if they could be re-applied and was told I had to wait 90 days. But because it just seemed ridiculous to be paying so much more, and reminded by a post at Get Rich Slowly, I called back. Again, I was given the same line about having to wait 90 days, but this time instead of just saying OK and hanging up, I asked if anyone was available who could make an exception.

And... well, turns out, there was! He transferred me to something called the "employee department" (has anyone heard of this? When we were with RCN back in DC, they had something similar). So when I got on the line with the second guy, I politely explained the situation and said that while I liked Comcast and didn't want to switch, if I wasn't able to get my bill lowered, I was thinking about canceling. I didn't invoke the name of any competitors (though there are competitors in the area), but I assume it was implied.

And the guy immediately said, "Well, normally we do ask that you wait 90 days between promotions, but of course we don't want to lose you as a customer, so let me see what I can do." Then he typed for all of 10 seconds and then offered me SIXTY dollars off a month, for the next six months, PLUS free Showtime. For real! That's MORE of a discount than we were getting before. All because I invoked the word "cancel," and was polite about it.

It's my understanding that in some areas, Comcast is the only alternative, so it's harder to call them up and make threats. And I totally get that, but you know, it's still worth calling, right? You can say that you're trying to cut costs and you're hoping you can get your bill lowered, and if you can't, you're thinking of canceling altogether. Even if you can't threaten to switch providers, you can still threaten to take away your business. And it's not an unfeasible threat... I imagine that lots of people whose incomes have been reduced are cutting out luxuries like cable and Internet. It sucks, but I bet they're doing it.

All I'm saying is, it's worth a shot. Sixty dollars a month! That's over $700 a year! Just from one five-minute phone call. Just call your cable/Internet provider and try it. And hey, if they call your bluff about canceling (assuming that it IS a bluff), you can always just "get disconnected." Right?


  1. There is definitely something to be said for asking politely for something you want. People are much more willing to work with you than they are with someone who is hostile and threatening.

    With that said, I have mixed emotions about asking for discount after discount. Part of me says the cable companies just mark things up, so it's easy for them to offer a discount to make you feel like you're getting a deal. But, the other part of me feels like their hands are tied. Damned if they do offer you a discount (cuts into their bottom line - they're a business trying to make ends meet, too) and damned if they don't offer you the discount (as you'll take your business elsewhere).

    Sometimes I wonder if the culture of our society to expect sales and discounts is a contributing factor to our messed up economy.

  2. I just did the same thing with DirecTV, AND they gave me free Showtime! Woot!

  3. You have a $60 per month discount? I'm horrified to contemplate what the bill without discounts would be.

  4. Awesome! I love good customer service stories!

  5. I love the idea of asking nicely for a discount or reduction to a bill! Nicely done.

  6. Oh we do this with Comcast every time one of our promotions end. In Philadelphia you ask to speak with "Retention" when things don't go right. Since they've moved their corporate headquarters here I must say that the customer service employees have gotten a bit friendlier.

    SoMi's Nilsa, the way I figure it is that they clearly can afford to give the discount otherwise they simply wouldn't. Certainly it cannot cost them much more to throw in a Showtime subscription. Currently I pay about one hundred dollars for cable and internet w/ Showtime and HBO. Without the discounts I'm looking at $140+. Everyone has a rock bottom and I have a sneaking suspicion that my $100 a month more than covers their bottom line as far as service to my house is concerned.

  7. A Comcast experience that wasn't horrible? Well I'll be! Maybe they are nicer in Colorado? ;-)

  8. I have threatened to leave Cox several times, and it's never resulted in anything more than "we'd be sorry to lose you." Maybe I need to be more aggressive. Or maybe Cox just SUCKS.

  9. I've had quite a few chats with Dell, since my AC adapter (and it's replacement, and that' one's replacement) kept just stopping working (was that English?) I did the online chat with them from my work computer, and they were always very helpful, and sent me out new adapters quickly. All I had to do was send my broken one back.

  10. lizgwiz - i can confirm that yes, cox just sucks. sucky suckers. with their sucky sucker high prices and monopoly on my market. dear verizon fios: PLEASE COME SAVE USSSS!

  11. You've inspired me to contact Comcast. My bill is around $140 a month, and it needs to go down a bit. Glad to hear you had such a positive experience. Hopefully mine turns out the same!

  12. Both great experiences! My best friend had MASSIVE ISSUES (yes, CAPS are necessary) with Dell a few years ago, at the start of our fourth and final year of University (so you can imagine how sudden computer crashing, that never ends regardless of the replaced hardware was stressful). Dell was awful, she had to deal with different people every time, and no one would stay on the line with her as she ran diagnostic tests so she had to call back and get someone new and regardless of having a 'case number' she had to start over with each new person. It was ridiculous (and technicians had to come to our house more than once to fix it).

    Then a few months later, Dell screws up an Ink order and she goes through a whole ordeal again with their customer service. It was insanity.

  13. My parents claim to remember a time when this kind of customer service was just expected. Now, we feel compelled to devote entire blog posts to them. Nothing ruins my day faster than crappy customer service. Grrr!

  14. I used to work for a cable company and we had a department that we caled "saves." We were never allowed to tell the customer the name of the department that we were transferring them to but if they mentioned cancelling, the call was immediately transferred. It was that department's job to try to save the customer, bottom line. There were even a bunch of promotions that we were not allowed to give out to customers, only the 'saves' people.

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  16. I was already planning to speak with Comcast when my 12-month promotion is up in September and you've given me some great tips/links that will be very helpful, thanks!

    Being polite is key to getting what you want in SO MANY situations. Just not with the TSA folks who practically make me strip in public. ;)

  17. I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  18. My friend and I were recently discussing about how modern society has evolved to become so integrated with technology. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

    I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS SerVo)