Okay, I confess. I’m a customer service critic. From attitudes and aptitudes to cleanliness and consistency, I want companies to get it right.
Good customer service isn’t that hard….really…unless, you’re Time Warner Cable. They don’t seem to get it. After we discovered that we don’t need or want to pay for 400+ channels (including the home-wrecking channel, the laundry detergent channel or the we-don't-have-a-theme-yet-but-here's-some-bad-programming-anyway channel), I decided to make the call and downgrade our service.
But before I begin, in fairness, I must offer kudos to TWC’s “John” in sales and “Sara” in customer service who were nice, but powerless to do the one thing I wanted. No, that job was reserved for the folks in “retention.”
I’m not exactly sure what they were retaining, but “Jeremy” and “Bridget” had it bad. Jeremy bumbled for 10 minutes looking up my account, couldn’t take a payment and didn’t even try to solve my problem. He passed me to Sara (see kudos above) who could only take a payment and send me back to Bridget for more retaining.
Poor Bridget. Bless her heart, she couldn’t find my account for 20 minutes. She asked for our phone number (which came from TWC and was only ten digits) and couldn’t find it. I gave her my account number (which came from TWC) and she couldn’t find it. I spelled our last name several times and she couldn’t find it. I even tried spelling it louder for her. I gave her my wife’s Verizon cell phone number and then miracle of miracles! It appeared!
I stated what I wanted to do, how much I wanted to pay and why. She said “okay” and over the next 40 minutes dodged any rational discussion about whether or not she could do what I asked. Apparently the "okay" was her way of saying "yeah, right." She proposed meaningless offer after meaningless offer. I debated her logic, berated her company and mandated my request. I was even tempted by a free month of any movie channel. But alas, no.
Then I pulled out the nuclear option. I told her I was ready to cancel all of my services. Right then. Seriously. We could do it. We have more than 30 Sesame Street episodes on our TiVo, plus countless others from Franklin, Bob the Builder and the Biscuit Brothers. And of course, there's always our knight in shining armor -- Netflix!
I restated what I wanted one last time. Finally she said, “Okay, I can do that. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that I could.” There it was -- the magic "okay" and just like that I got what I proposed at the beginning of the call. Total elapsed time: 1 hour 20 minutes. We’ll save $516 over the next year on cable. Not bad for a Pyrrhic victory. I was exhausted when the call ended.
Of course, for every bad experience, there are those good ones. Such as the folks at the N.C. License Plate Agency on Wake Forest Road and the fine folks at the Guilford County Tax Office. That’s right – two government agencies.
The folks I encountered the morning after my TWC-near-death-experience were very nice, smiling and helpful people. They helped me sort out the hanging details of a license plate renewal that fell through the crack of last year’s move. They were patient, polite and personable. I suspect they knew I needed them more than they needed me. But they played along and made me happy about “going legit.” After I paid the back car tax and the renewal fee, I was done. It cost me $257, but I was happy and my faith in humanity was renewed.
Maybe they knew what the TWC folks didn’t. You don’t have to be so brazen about TAKING someone’s money if they’ll gladly GIVE it to you.
Thanks for letting me rant…