I recently accepted a position with a new employer, and with that position came a company issued cell phone. I’ve been managing my own phone for a long time. With my last several jobs up until the one right before this one, I would simply expense the portion of my mobile bill that applied to my individual phone. Now, for the first time in a long while, it was “Here’s your phone”, as opposed to “This is how you expense your phone”.
Since I am now the somewhat disgruntled owner of an iPhone 4, there seemed no need to keep paying close to $100 a month to also have my Droid 2, so I went to the Verizon Wireless store to cancel it.
I’d been a Verizon customer for several years, and had been using this phone for about 2 of those, so I expected no issue in having the phone shut off. I wasn’t closing the account, as my wife and son would continue to have their service through Verizon. I expected the entire process to be fast and painless. Surprise! It wasn’t.
First, I was told that I was under contract on my phone until early 2014. I was a bit surprised by that. The agent explained to me that when my son washed his (no features) phone, and my wife had it replaced with another (no features) phone, Verizon used my smartphone’s reduced price upgrade / renewal instead of his. So, I had ended up paying $100 to get a standard phone, and also extended my 2 year old phone’s contract out an additional 2 years. The agent then informed me that for this to happen was not at all unusual – that it happens all the time. I asked that since he could see what had happened, could it be fixed? It wasn’t doing me any good to have my son’s new phone already eligible for an upgrade. I was told no, we would have had to catch it when it happened. We didn’t, so we’re locked in, and I have to pay a cancellation fee.
Since the agent was unwilling to do what I believed made sense, I asked him what he suggested. Was there any way I could avoid a cancellation fee? He said no. However, his suggestion was that if I wanted to move my existing number to a standard phone, there would be no charge, and the new cost would only be $9.99 per month. My daughter doesn’t have a phone, so I asked him to show me the cheapest standard phone they had. He did – it was $150. So, to cancel would be $155, and to move to a less expensive service would be $150, plus $9.99 per month for a 2 year minimum. That made the decision fairly easy – I spent the extra $5, and cancelled my service.
Yesterday Verizon customer service called to ask why I cancelled, how it went, and if they could do anything to bring me back. I told them I couldn’t think of anything. (They did try to upsell me on additional services though).
So, here are the fails:
1) Verizon made an account error (using the wrong phone’s upgrade eligibility). They were able to see that, and were unwilling or unable to fix it.
2) Follow up call for no other reason than to have made the call. The caller had no information as to why I cancelled or how the cancellation process had gone, but someone somewhere decided they should call all cancelling customers. That’s fine, but call with a suggestion before leading with “How can we bring you back”. I had explained earlier how to keep my business, but it had been turned down. To call later and ask the same question is more annoying than good customer service – but it lets someone place a mark on a checklist somewhere.
As usual, we’re giving lip service to good customer service, but not actually empowering employees to provide it.
There is a good article on Forbes relating to the same issue. And I can relate the author’s pain when trying to cancel XM radio after I traded my car in for one without a satellite receiver.
One more example that leads me to conclude that the company that actually gets customer service right will have a huge advantage over their competition.