Always Tell Companies Whether They Are Good or They Suck

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two weeks ago, my office mate was telling me that he was going to call his gym and cancel his membership. He was going to switch over to a competitor who offered a better deal and had newer equipment. "I think I'll just tell them that I am moving to another state."

Wait a second! What?! I suddenly started paying close attention to what he was saying. I asked him why on earth he would lie about the real reason, especially since he was not going to be charged any fee for the cancellation (no matter the reason). He said he did not want to be confrontational and he knew that they were going to offer him better rates and convince him to stay and he just did not want to deal with all the mess.

Hold on! I tried to convince him that he absolutely had to do the opposite in the following way:

  1. Tell a customer service representative ("rep") that he would like to cancel his current membership because he is switching to a competitor who: (a) is offering him a better deal on his monthly payment and (b) has better equipment and a more pleasant general ambiance.
  2. When the rep would come up with all sorts of ways to retain him, just be stern and show her that he was going to cancel no matter what.

In fact, even if the rep would not have asked for the reason, he should have still offered it. Because telling the real reason would have been a great service to the gym company. The business would have learned exactly why it is losing at least one customer and could have taken the appropriate steps to improve and become more competitive.

It is your right as a consumer to decide that you want to stop your consumption of a certain product. But it should also be your duty to spend a little bit of time giving feedback on how that product can be improved. By telling a company the real reason its product sucks or rules, the consumer is actually increasing competition and watching out for herself.

Urgh, of course my office mate bailed on that and came up with some b.s. excuse.  Whatever.

One of my favorite blogs is The Consumerist, whose mission is to make consumers more aware of the companies that they are supporting with their consumption choices and empower consumers to fight back when those companies screw them over. In the last few months, it has made me both very aware of my rights as a consumer to demand good customer service from everyone to whom I give my money and give all sorts of feedback to both good and bad companies.

Here are a few quick examples:

  1. Wells Fargo:  I greatly respect and am very grateful to this bank. When my purse was stolen in August 2008, the thief charged a total of $1,000 to my credit and debit cards. Wells Fargo reimbursed me within two weeks. They also removed an overdraft fee I had last month within 30 seconds by seeing that I do not have a history of overdrafts and it was just an accident. And they are just really nice and knowledgeable on the phone.
  2. WaMu/Chase:  absolutely horrible customer service. I HATE this bank with a passion. I have spent probably a total of 20 hours on the phone with them trying to resolve a claim for fraudulent unauthorized transactions made on my credit card in August 2008 (!!!). They keep transferring me from one department to the next, mysteriously "not getting" my faxes with my affidavit and police report and generally just being horrible to me. Once I get my money back, I am closing my credit card with this bank. And I am also telling everyone I know to never ever deal with this bank.
  3. Overstock:  I recently shipped back two items to the website, but my account was not being credited for them. This morning, I chatted online with a rep called Wes. The chat took about 10-15 minutes and Wes's average response time was 5 seconds. Turns out, Overstock did receive the packages, but for some reason the returns were not processed. So he sent a note to the department to speed up the processing and two hours later, I got an email alerting me of the completion of returns. Needless to say, when a feedback form popped up at the end of our chat, I left nothing short of a raving review.
  4. ING Direct:  Do I love them or what? They give me great rates on savings, do not bother me with needless emails, answer my solicited questions by email within 24 hours, have awesome billboard ads and promote financial responsibility through The Declaration of Financial Independence. Needless to say, when I received a SurveyMonkey survey from them this evening, I spent 10 minutes giving honest and detailed feedback. They are serving me well, so I want them to succeed.

So that is that, my friends. Help the companies that are serving you well. And do not be afraid to tell those that are not that they you are not happy with their service and are therefore switching to their competitor. It is for their own good and for yours, too.


Katya Zorina said...

Totally true :)

Jun Loayza said...

ATT&T in my opinion is garbage. The only reason I stick with them is because I can't live without my iPhone.

I've told them many times that they suck to their face. I've told their customer reps, the managers, and even Tweeted it out several times. I literally wrote a Tweet saying, "I'm not going to stop hating on AT&T until they respond to me via Twitter." It's been 3 weeks and still no response.

Some companies are just so huge that they don't care...

What can we do about it?

Daniel Lai said...

I've heard of people writing formal letters to the VPs or even the CEO of airlines when they have a justifiably horrible experience. The stories always end with free trip vouchers.

I also completely agree with your Wells Fargo evaluation. I'm going to buy their stock.


Cristiana J said...

I always share my opinion with the companies that I interact.It's a great way to let them know what I like and what should they do to please me ;)