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Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 03:17 PM   #1
 
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Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Because of the storm and outages, I needed to do something I try to avoid: Call a large company on the phone (Power, Cable, Phone).

I've found that things have gotten even worse.

Problem 1. It takes forever to get through to a live person.

Example, phone service went out for our entire neighborhood. I called 611 from pay phone. You can no longer get through to a person by pressing 0, or by not pressing any buttons. You are expected to speak your problem. Example:

Recording: Tell me what the problem is:
Me: No dial tone
Recording: It sounds like you have a problem with billing, is that correct?

When I got further, I had to endure a long recording about how to tell if the problem was in the wiring in your house, or outside, and how they would charge me if it was my problem.

If I'd gotten a live, local person I would have said "Nobody in the neighborhood has phone." and they would have said "OK, we'll work on it."

Problem 2: If you get a live person, they are in Dallas, or San Diego or India, and don't have a clue as to what's going on in your area.

Problem 3: Companies sometimes will not commit to an estimated time of resolution of the problem. They don't want people saying "But you said the power would be back on Tuesday." so they just say "We have no estimate of when the problem will be fixed." As a result, you have no idea if it's going to be an hour or a month.

Dealing with the companies was as bad as the outage itself.

End of rant.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 03:32 PM   #2
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

I hear ya ... called my wireless router maker last week 4 times before:

1. I found someone who knew more than I did
2. I wasn't farmed out to some self help download
3. They spoke english

an hour and a half later ... I found an indian woman who pulled me out of the bind. No trace of any previous calls - as all previous tech support was incapable of logging the call.

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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 06:14 PM   #3
 
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Yeah, but all these 'services are saving the consumer money' - Yeah but they're wasting your whole Fricken Day!
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 06:44 PM   #4
 
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

I'm starting to make decisions based on this. For example, this is a major reason I don't have a cell phone.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 07:19 PM   #5
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Customer service is dead. I now base all my purchases on price and availability alone. For a time I was 'voting with my feet/wallet' and not shopping at or dealing with companies that gave me poor or no service. Unfortunately, I was on schedule to run out of retailers in about 3 months.

Congratulations, corporate america. You've created the commodity atmosphere you fear most.

I told my wife I was going to go buy a book of forms so when someone says they're going to call me and they dont, they say they're going to do something and they dont, or are supposed to deliver something to me or provide a service and simply dont show up...I'm gonna give them a bill for my time.

They wont pay it of course, and I wouldnt bother pursuing them. But it'd be fun.

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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-13-2006, 07:30 PM   #6
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Its not just service that is piss-poor either...have you noticed almost everything you buy is CRAP..breaks, doesn't last long etc...I have a refrigerator in my garage, its always been used, and its close to 40 or 50 years old and has never stopped working, or failed to keep things cold no matter how hot out it is...I have gone thru 2 refrigerators (used in the house) in the past 5 or 6 years...the dishwasher is 2 years old and it leaks on occassion, the washing machine is 4 months old and stops 2-3 times on each load until I push the cover back down...and NONE of these were the cheapest-I-could find purchases either..mostly big names, Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytag etc...yet all are crap.

Toys from Christmas...its almost assumed these days that the crap you buy, 1/4 of them won't work when you open the package and the rest break in about 3 weeks..and I'll bet very few people ever bother to return them either...

There is crap everywhere...but thanks to walmart, at least its cheap crap. and if you need service, you can talk to some idiot in India, who doesn't speak English very well, and whose entire purpose in life is to get you off the phone as soon as possible...wether or not s/he understands or solves your problem...
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 05:19 AM   #7
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Because of the storm and outages, I needed to do something I try to avoid: Call a large company on the phone (Power, Cable, Phone).

I've found that things have gotten even worse.

Problem 1. It takes forever to get through to a live person.

Problem 2: If you get a live person, they are in Dallas, or San Diego or India, and don't have a clue as to what's going on in your area.

Problem 3: Companies sometimes will not commit to an estimated time of resolution of the problem.

Dealing with the companies was as bad as the outage itself.
The bad news is that it has nothing to do with the US. The telephone line of my observatory fell down (south of France) physically on the ground and I went through the exact same process 1), 2), 3), must be globalization of good practices sometimes they do not come for weeks !
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 05:50 AM   #8
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Quote:
The bad news is that it has nothing to do with the US.
You all probably don't want to hear about it, but there are still some countries with good customer service. Maybe the problem is using a commodity language, like English or French, which is easily outsourced?

Semi-related story: last time I was in the US, I needed to change flight plans, so I called customer service (it was either United or AA, forget which), and fell into phone-menu and wait-for-a-representative hell. After a while I gave up and tried calling their Japanese-language customer service line, and boom!, instant human being, who was courteous, clued-in and helpful. After helping me, the representative asked out of curiosity why I had called that line (my name is not Japanese), and I told him quite honestly that it was the only way to get a human being in reasonable time. I hope they never outsource his job.

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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 08:28 AM   #9
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Its not just big companies either. I get some of the worst service from the 'little guys' around town here. The same ones crying in their beer about the new wal mart superstore opening up. I've seen a handful of business owners saying they still offer superior service. I've been in their stores. Couple of kids that dont know anything and dont give a crap about helping you. A lot of empty spaces on the shelves where product is supposed to be. Much higher prices than the "big box" stores. One checkout line with 10 people in it while 3 other employees chit chat.

Good luck to the small business. To borrow an unclemick phrase, 'agile, mobile, hostile' these guys aint.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 08:59 AM   #10
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Compared to the US I think Panama's customer service overall is much better than the US. The main reason is because labor is so cheap here. When minimum wage is $1.22/hr you can have way more workers in a store. It is very common here to see several workers walking around the store willing to help and answer questions.

We did have one bad incident though. I bought a slide bed for my son and when the guys came to deliver it the ladder was missing two screws. We went to the store to ask for the screws and the OWNER said the wharehouse would have to deliver it. I asked why we couldn't use the screws off the floor model and he mumbled something in spanish. He eventually gave us the screws but I felt it should of been handled without the red tape. Too bad he didn't know we were also shopping for a large fridge and stove. So for a bad attitude he missed out on a $2000 sale. Damn those were some expensive screws!!

Overall the service here is good and it gets better the more money you give the clerk.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 09:43 AM   #11
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arif
Compared to the US I think Panama's customer service overall is much better than the US. The main reason is because labor is so cheap here. When minimum wage is $1.22/hr
By that logic. Walmart's customer service should be outstanding!* Their wage levels are similar to those Arif quotes the slave drivers in Panama are paying.

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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 11:03 AM   #12
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I've found that things have gotten even worse. End of rant.
It's not such a rant after all. I've just been reminded how desensitized we've become to poor customer service. In a few more decades we'll have totally given up any expectation of it!

Our kid checked her credit-card statement this week, only her second statement ever, and discovered that our local movie theater had charged her twice. Her request for "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" was probably interpreted literally by the cashier. Or maybe they think kids won't have the guts to complain about being ripped off.

She brought up the online dispute form and its first line said "Call our Customer Service number before filling out this form." So she had to phone up Citi and for the first time in her life she had to press 1 for this, press 2 for that...

She was horrified & outraged that an actual human wasn't waiting for her call, because a lifetime of commercials has told her that "Operators are standing by!". Luckily for her it was only a couple levels of voice menus, there was eventually a human being, and he spoke relatively unaccented English. She's gaining a new appreciation for having to do business over the phone and she can't believe that customers are treated like that.

Citi agreed to chargeback the dispute and she was happy. I told her that credit-card companies can make mistakes so she'd be wise to generate a formal record of the dispute, and she realized that she'd have to fill out the online dispute form anyway. "Online" is interpreted by Citi to mean "fill this out, print it, sign it, & snail-mail it to us" so she had to find an envelope & stamp. Postage rates went up this week so she had to scrabble around for one-cent stamps.

Then I told her that she should pay the disputed charge and let Citi reimburse her. We had to deal with more outrage but she understood the logic of not giving them the chance to add a finance charge to the unpaid balance if the dispute dragged on.

Finally I asked her if she was going to go see another movie at this theater, and whether she was going to write a complaint letter. She's still mulling that one over. She's been pretty insensitive to $6.25 movie tickets, but the 90 minutes invested in dealing with that charge is making those $1 library DVDs seem like a real bargain.

At her age, outrage is her primary ways of dealing with the world (especially with parents). But in this case, having to explain the whole bizarre system to her made her outrage seem pretty sensible. Maybe no one disputes credit-card charges like this because it's hardly worth the time spent.

As she says, all she's wanted for her entire life is to be a grownup and to have her own credit card. Now that she has the card and is expected to handle it like a grownup, she's not sure that it's such a good deal anymore...
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 12:52 PM   #13
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

I think this thread reminds me to always look for ways to simplify esp. once I reach FIRE (and dont have on job time to be messing with this stuff). 8)
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 01:04 PM   #14
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

I used to think it was odd that companies are willing to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per customer to 'acquire' them, then will apply great effort to not spending any money on servicing them.

Until it occurred to me that most ceo's are marketing or sales guys.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-14-2006, 01:57 PM   #15
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

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Until it occurred to me that most ceo's are marketing or sales guys.
It's amazing that you managed to escape the asylum with your sanity intact...
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-15-2006, 12:24 PM   #16
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Does anyone actually believe that happened?
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-15-2006, 01:16 PM   #17
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

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Originally Posted by ()
Its not just big companies either.* I get some of the worst service from the 'little guys' around town here.* The same ones crying in their beer about the new wal mart superstore opening up.* I've seen a handful of business owners saying they still offer superior service.* I've been in their stores.* Couple of kids that dont know anything and dont give a crap about helping you.* A lot of empty spaces on the shelves where product is supposed to be.* Much higher prices than the "big box" stores.* One checkout line with 10 people in it while 3 other employees chit chat.

Good luck to the small business.* To borrow an unclemick phrase, 'agile, mobile, hostile' these guys aint.
Actually, they do seem to have the "hostile" part down pat...

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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-16-2006, 10:42 AM   #18
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

...and then pick up the phone, breathe into it for a few seconds and then hang up.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-16-2006, 10:53 AM   #19
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Who needs customer service when the government will bail your company out if it starts going under? I mean, its not like you're facing any real competition or anything.

There are some industries where poor customer service will cause people to lose a customer for life and other industries where they just don't care because the customer isn't the life/death of the company.

Take a chain restaurant for example....they just don't have to be as nice as the people at a local restaurant because they have marketing/namebrandappeal.
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse
Old 01-16-2006, 12:01 PM   #20
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Re: Dealing with Big Companies: It's Getting Worse

Reminds me...

Can anyone...anyone at all...tell me why anybody ever goes to Applebees more than once?

And what the **** is a 'riblet'?!?
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