Today's guest post comes from The Casual Observer. For the first time, I'm highlighting a blog that isn't a personal finance blog. Why? His outstanding satirical piece on guerrilla economic warfare caught my attention. You can subscribe to his RSS Feed here.
My wife has been a long time subscriber to TV Guide. Judging by the number of useless TV Guide tote bags in the closet, ten or more years. She diligently sends out the renewal card plenty early, and we have never missed an issue. Even with the availability of better options "“ such as our cable box's onscreen schedule "“ the TV Guide provides a critical household function. It stabilizes our pile of junk mail, with its width proving a broad foundation.
Our current subscription will expire in August. At some point in the next six months, we planned to send off the renewal card.
Over the weekend, we received a call from TV Guide's telemarketers. The cost of the subscription would be going up soon, so now was the time to renew in order to lock in the lower rate. We told them that we would renew when it was closer to the point of expiration, and that we would simply take the risk of a higher subscription rate. We requested that they not call back. This call was completely civil.
On Tuesday (February 3) we received another call. I politely told the telemarketer that we would renew when we got around to it. He asked me to put my wife on the phone (getting her name wrong in the process). I repeated my previous statement. At this point, he demanded that I put her on the line. Since he was not a police officer or a doctor, I decided that I was probably a better judge of whether or not she needed to take this call "“ especially since I had heard her tell the previous caller not to call back. I told him that I was not going to take orders from him. He threatened to call back if I didn't put her on the phone. I countered with a threat to file a phone harassment complaint with the state Attorney General if he did this. He laughed at the threat. We exchanged a few more unpleasant words and I hung up.
At this point, the telemarketer certainly realizes that he has damaged the customer relationship enough, and that he should put a notation in our customer record indicating that we should not be called back. Right?
Apparently not. A female TV Guide telemarketer called on Thursday (February 5). When my wife told her that we had asked them not to call back, the telemarketer's response was "waa, waa, waaa" - fake crying. I had considered Tuesday's telemarketer to be quite unprofessional, but this lady took the art to a new low.
Within minutes, I was on TV Guide's web site, looking for a way to contact them. I eventually found the contact form. I composed a 300 word summary of the incident, including the date and times of the calls. I suggested that they review these calls (if they were recorded) and consider firing these employees.
At this point, we really just hope that the calls stop. If the telemarketers are fired, that would be a nice bonus. With a 7.5% unemployment rate, there are certainly other people who could fill their shoes. If the calls do continue, we will log the times of the calls and we will file complaints with the FCC and the state Attorney General.
This whole episode makes me wonder what sort of training these people receive. How can a customer facing employee believe that it is acceptable to bully and mock your existing customers? Perhaps these people are paid on commission, and this causes them to be more aggressive. If this is the case, perhaps the pay structure should be modified so that customer complaints reduce their pay.
If there is one lesson to be learned from this incident, it is this: if a subscription card asks for a phone number, leave it blank. There is no upside to allowing them to have this information. They are not going to call you to let you know that a problem with the printing press is going to delay your magazine by 5 days. The only reason they will call you is to try to sell you stuff.
If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read The Casual Observer's whole dealing with TV Guide's sales team.
14 Responses to “How to Lose a Loyal Customer in Three Easy Calls”
Next: Improve Your Blog and Personal Finance Links