posted by Matt W on May 9th, 2012

I opened up my cable bill and the price of my service had gone up $25. I have lived in Knoxville for 8 years and “Like the swallows returning to Capistrano” I annually call my cable company telling them my bill has gone up and I want it back at the same level.

It’s the same fight every year.

They say that their services have improved dramatically and that what they really want is to get me into a package that better suits me. “How can we help you get the most out of Matt W.’s cable experience?” My response is always the same “Don’t raise my rates.” There is a 30 minute fight with them telling me all the great options they currently offer and me responding, “satellite is becoming a much more likely option the longer I’m on the phone.” It’s almost word for word every year. Eventually, I get my $25 dollars taken off.

Well last year I took a different approach. I called them and said that I needed to talk with the person who could approve a change in price, eliminating the first 10 minute conversation to get to a manager. I then told that manager that I didn’t want to fight for an additional 20 minutes until he gave up trying to up-sell me, I just wanted my $25 a month discount. The middle-aged guy on the phone, looked at my bill, and said that he didn’t want to fight either and approved the discount. Done. Less than five minutes and I was a happy customer. This was a truly great customer service experience for a middle-aged male customer.

So this year, bill in hand, I call Charter hoping for the exact same experience. A nice woman tries to help me and I just say, “Give me a manager.” She proceeds to tell me all the exciting new packages they offer and I say, “Really, I don’t care. I’m sure you’re nice and competent but I just want a discount and to be done. Give me a manager.” She pushes for another few minutes and then forwards me to a manager.

Phase 1 complete.

So, I get to the manager and she asks me what I need. I proceed to explain that I just want my discount and to not have to fight with someone for 20 minutes to get it. She assures me that she has been at Charter for years and that they don’t fight with customers, and she is there to help. Great, hopefully I will get my discount quickly. She then says, “First, I would like you to put your bill away, I have it right here in front of me so you don’t need to look at it, it will just confuse you during our conversation on services, and I want to work with you, Matt W., to help you get the most out of your cable experience. We have so many exciting new opportunities for our customers.”

Fuuuuuuuucckk.

“We’ll that’s not going to happen because, one, that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard and, two, I’m not an idiot. Let’s just stop wasting time and give me my $25 discount and we’ll get out of here.” She is obviously frustrated, and requests again that I put away my bill and, “we will work this out together. “

I settle in for a 20 minute “customer service” fight.

She gives my options for TV service upgrades; I say, “No.” She gives me options for phone service upgrades; I say, “No.” She gives me all the latest information about the internet upgrades available; I say, “No.” What kind of shows do you watch, files do you download, long distance calls do you make, blah, blah, blah? She is now talking solely for the sake of talking. She looks into different packages that might save me money, and the closest she can find is a two year deal that raises the price of my package $10 a month and gives me better phone service. “No.” She finally punches in the exact same package I have and “finds” that she can enter in a $25 discount for 1 year. Our conversation is currently 21 minutes old (plus the 10 minutes it took me to get put through to her.) I take the high road and don’t call her a freaking lunatic, and say, “That sounds just fine.” She makes a few jokes about my bill being $1,000,000 (an interesting choice of jokes for someone looking for a discount) while she waits for the computer to update, and she is finally done. “Is there anything else I can do to make your cable experience better in the future?” I pause. Finally I say “Nope, I look forward to talking with you about my bill exactly a year from now” and we both hang up. 36 total minutes including the first woman I spoke with.

I’m not saying I’m the typical customer or a perfect customer (It’s pretty safe to say I’m not.). But it seems like customer service should be about the customer and they should have figured out pretty early in the conversation that first, I was not there to chat, and second, all I really wanted was my discount that they obviously had the power to offer. The guy I talked to last year got it, why couldn’t they?

Next year, I’m just going to call until I get a middle-aged male manager like last year, and be done.



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