Geeks With Blogs

Lately I have been frustrated by examples of poor customer service. At least one is worth writing about because I don’t think companies realize the effects of their service policies on loyal customers.

Bad Customer Service Example #1

Recently, I received an offer in the mail from my cable company, suddenLink. The offer was for an updated TiVo for $12/mo. Normally I ignore offers like this one because I already have the service they’re offering and many times advertisers are offering alternatives to what is already an excellent product offering. I tend to exhibit a high level of loyalty to the products and brands that I use. In this case, we were looking to upgrade our TiVo and this deal is attractive for several reasons:

  • I don’t want to pay a huge amount up-front for the device, so paying a monthly amount for the device is attractive to me.
  • My entertainment is almost all on a single invoice. I’m no longer going to be billed by suddenLink and TiVo.
  • TiVo is still involved, so I am still loyal to the brand I love. I have resisted moving to other DVRs and services for over a decade.

I called suddenLink to order the new TiVo and was rewarded with great customer service. In fact, I can’t remember ever getting poor customer service from suddenLink. They are always there to answer my technical support questions and they are very responsive to outages. Then I called TiVo.

First of all, I chose the option on the phone system to change or cancel my service, which was consequently met by an inordinate hold time. (I’m calling this time inordinate because I get through very quickly if I want to purchase something.) This is a trend that I’ve noticed with companies – if you want me to be loyal to you, it should be just as easy to cancel your service as it is to purchase it. Because, I should never be cancelling because I am unhappy. And, if you ever want my business again, or more importantly a reference, then you’d better make the exit door open just as easy as the enter door.

After quite some time on hold, I talked to “Victor” who was very courteous. Victor canceled my service and then told me that I could keep my current TiVo and transfer recorded programs to it from the new TiVo.  Cool I said, but what about the cost?  He said there was no extra cost.  This was also attractive to me because I paid for my TiVo and it would be good to use it for something at least.  That was four months ago.

This month I noticed that TiVo was still charging me for my original service. I was a little upset, but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, I am a loyal TiVo customer and I have resisted moving to other solutions for over a decade. I’m sure they will do whatever it takes to keep my business, through TiVo or through suddenLink.

After quite some time on hold, I was able to talk to a customer service representative, “Les”. I explained that I am a loyal TiVo customer, but I purchased this deal through my cable provider. I’m still with TiVo, I just wanted a single bill and to take advantage of the pay-over-time option. “Les” told me that he was very sorry to hear that I’m leaving TiVo, to which I responded again that I wasn’t leaving TiVo, I just want one invoice, and to take advantage of the pay-over-time.

So, after explaining that I requested a termination of the non-suddenLink account (TiVo can see both of course), I was put on hold again for quite some time while my refund was “approved”.  “Les” said that he could see my cancellation request back in July. Note that it is now November, so they have billed me inappropriately four times. After quite some time, he came back on the line and told me that he was able to “get me most of my money back.” He got approval to refund 90 days.

Even though I requested cancellation of one of my accounts, TiVo has that cancellation request on file and they admit overbilling me, I am going to get “most” of my money back. To top this experience off, when we were ready to hang up, “Les” told me that he was sorry to see me go and that he hoped I would come back to TiVo again. Again, I explained to “Les” that I have not left TiVo. I am just paying them through suddenLink.

At that point, he went into a small dissertation about how this is a special arrangement they have with suddenLink and very few others. He made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Why should I feel that way? TiVo made the deal with suddenLink, not me, and the deal seemed like a good compromise for me to be able to get what I need.

Here is what TiVo Customer Service accomplished on those two calls – I no longer feel like I need to be loyal to the TiVo brand or service. If I had been treated better on these two calls, I would still be recommending TiVo to my friends. They would still be getting revenue from a loyal customer, who paid the same rate for over a decade, and this article wouldn’t be here for you to read.


In my opinion, if you want brand loyalty, be loyal to your customers!

Posted on Sunday, November 25, 2012 11:12 AM Musings | Back to top

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