Beware poor service

June 6, 2013
By: Vicki Bell

In this age of many choices that are similar and competitively priced, what really makes the difference in your buying decisions? Where a product is made? Those of us who support U.S. manufacturing routinely note this and buy U.S.-made when we can. However, a recent experience—one many of you will identify with—showed me just how very important another consideration is.

For the past 17 years, my household has enjoyed satellite TV, even though the price for the service has risen every year. We expected that, as it’s common practice with all providers to raise rates for existing customers. Those special deals are just to rope you in. And we were cautioned that all are difficult to deal with, so, why not stay with what you have?

Satellite TV is great when it works … in our case, when the dish has a clear line of sight to the Southern sky and the weather is fair. We were accustomed to outages during bad weather, but over the last couple of years, the trees I love more than TV have grown to a point that they interfer with reception, particularly on windy days. Now it’s become impossible to watch a single program without the picture breaking up or the signal being lost altogether. And, for the past couple of years, we tried in vain to upgrade to HD and were told that no matter where the dish was placed, we could not receive HD unless we cut down our beloved trees.

The last straw was not being able to watch last week’s episode of the only show we watch on a regular basis, nor the French Open. And being told by the satellite provider that we would have to pay upfront for someone to come out and reposition the dish (an option I felt was unacceptable for a 17-year customer), and even doing that might not work. So … though we knew it would be a hassle … we made the decision to switch to cable.

My husband lined up the cable installation, and I made the call to cancel the satellite service. The experience was even worse than I had anticipated. I know they were recording the call, and I wish I had. I’d post it on YouTube.

Naturally, I was greeted by the integrated voice response program. As soon as I spoke the reason for my call—cancel service—I was transferred to a real person, if real people read from scripts and don’t listen. You know the drill. I was asked why I was cancelling and which provider I was switching to, and then subjected to umpteen pitches to stay with the current service. I was put on hold, and when the representative came back on the line, he offered to send someone out to move the dish at no charge, see if there was a way to get HD—been down that dead-end road too many times--and reduce our monthly bill by $35.00. I forgot to mention that the rep also continually trashed the cable company, telling me that we were switching to a service that was horribly inferior.

I asked Mr. Helpful and Concerned why the person I spoke with previously regarding moving the dish did not offer to do so at no charge, and why, if it was possible to reduce my bill, it wasn’t already done? I thought these were fair questions. He said he was sorry about that, and I’m sure he was, particularly when I stayed the course, despite his continued badgering, and said I was cancelling. His last comment to me was, “What you have now is much better than what you’ll be getting.” My response? “We have nothing now, except the (satellite company) logo scrolling across the screen.” And that was all, folks.

And then the calls started coming in. Gotta love caller ID; just let it ring.

My point in writing about this, besides getting it off my chest, is to stress just how important good customer service is, no matter what you’re selling. I believe good service sets a company apart, especially when there is little else to differentiate between products.

And who can afford the damage that’s done by poor service? As noted in the article “Superior service—why you need it,” published on, “If a business doesn't provide what a customer wants, the customer will take his or her business elsewhere. Nor will the customer go silently. On average, an unhappy customer tells 12 people about the experience. These 12 people each tell 12 more, and so on. And with the common use of the Internet and e-mail (and Facebook and Twitter), bad news travels faster and farther than ever before.”

Yes it does.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209