December 17, 2010

Customer Service

This post has nothing to do with my kids, my friends, food, or even knitting (because sometimes I blog about knitting). Just so you know that going in.

Today I got a bill for $45 from Sirius/XM, the satellite radio people. A one-year subscription to satellite radio and a kick-ass overhead entertainment system came as freebies with my just-this-side-of-crappy minivan. Both were things I didn't need, but they do add some value, mostly in that my kids don't try to kill each other in the car when their brains are full of mush. Case in point: Radio Disney, which is a lifesaver on long car rides when I forget to let the kids bring their various electronic devices. In our area, you can't get Radio Disney on an actual radio unless that radio is satellite-friendly. Mine is. Big win.

The other thing I like about satellite radio is that I can find a station - in fact, many stations - that play music in the mornings. Which means there are no horrid deejays screeching at me and trying to be funny, something most commercial radio stations consider to be an asset. I do not. I don't like mornings. I particularly don't like loud mornings that try too hard. My satellite radio understands.

But I don't like paying for it. I mean, this is not a thing I need. If I don't want people hollering at me, I can just shut the darn thing off and play a CD.

So I got this bill from Sirius/XM for $45 for three months of service. I get a similar bill every, oh, let's just say it's every three months. It's not, really, but let's say it is. And when I get said bill, that $45 reminds me that I'm a single mom on a budget, and satellite radio is not something I need. So I call to cancel.

And then they tell me I can get five months for $15. Would I like to renew?

Well, sure. I can give up one cinammon dolce latte a month for Radio Disney and a quiet morning commute.

Five months later, like clockwork, I get a bill from Sirius/XM for $45 for three months of service, reminding me once again that I'm a single mom on a budget and satellite radio is not something I need. So I call to cancel. And then they tell me I can get five months for $15, and would I like to renew?

Uh ... sure?

The thing is, I'd just pay the damn bill if they'd charge a reasonable price in the first place.

They are almost as bad as Verizon, who gives me my phone and internet. Blazing fast speed and a dial tone every time I pick up the phone. I like that.

What I don't like is the following conversation, which I have had with them five times - yes, five times - in the past six months.

Verizon Rep: Hi, Rosemary! I'm calling to offer you Verizon FIOS for the low low price of something much lower than you're paying now.

Me: Wow, that's a great offer. I'll take it!

Verizon Rep: Uh ... wait. Our records show that you already have FIOS.

Me: Why yes. Yes, I do. I've had FIOS for more than five years now. But that prices is fabulous! Thanks for offering it to me. I'll take it.

Verizon Rep: Yeah, see, we can't do that. Because you already have FIOS. And we want to reward your loyalty over these past five years by charging you far, far more than we charge anyone else.

Me: Gee, how thoughtful! Thanks a ton for screwing me over and then calling to let me know all about it. Much appreciated.

Verizon Rep: Glad I could help. Have a great day!

For the record, I generally like Verizon, or I'd have switched a long time ago. Just as I like Sirius/XM. But seriously (ha ha - SIRIUSly, get it?) ... that business model, it's not exactly customer-friendly.

Now, here's one that is. This is my experience with the fine, fine folks at DirecTV. See, they don't know this, but they caused the first big fight of my marriage. My then newly wedded husband wanted a satellite dish so he could watch lots and lots and lots of sports. Back then, though, you had to buy the dish. And the box. And the remote. And when you added all that up with installation and the first few months of service, it came to roughly $1,000. If I think $45 is too much to pay for three months of radio, you can imagine how I felt about paying $1,000 for TV.

Well, I lost the fight, and we got DirecTV, which I inherited along with the house when the ex and I separated. Thing is, I'm a single mom on a budget, and I could not afford the $140 or so a month we'd been paying for the privilege of watching television. So I called DirecTV.

Me: Hi, DirecTV. I'm now a single mom on a budget and I need to cancel my service.

DirecTV: Ma'am, I see you've been a customer since the dawn of time. We value your loyalty. How about we shave this and trim that, and maybe refund you a bit of this, and while I'm at it, how about I send you a free remote to replace the one you accidentally put out with the recycling?

I now pay $32 a month for (very basic) satellite TV and a DVR, which means I can put my kids to bed and still watch Burn Notice in its entirety. Now, if only DirecTV could give me Radio Disney in the car, we'd have something.


  1. If you share my comment, I will deny it... My husband is a TV hopper. He gets dish and hates the dish going out in bad weather. Then he gets cable and he hates their guide. Then he gets FIOS and he hates their prices. Then he wants to go back to dish. Or someone. We are on year #8 of this TV hopping and I have learned to agree with him. Reminding him the grass is always greener isn't helpful. Some fights are not worth fighting. And he could blog and blog about similar experiences with customer service. Sigh.

  2. Every one of the companies I mentioned here hit this page blog within 24 hours of my posting. You have to wonder what they're doing with that! I hope it's all for the good.