You must have seen the TV commercials with the smarmy guy in business suit who offers something to a toddler then offers something much better to another child. "Would you like a pony?"
I've been TV shopping since SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed)opened the window of opportunity two days ago by saying, "Why don't we get a larger television..." and "How much better would our Blu-Ray viddies look in 1080p?" That led to a call to my satellite provider about some service adjustments and another HD tuner.
I'd been watching their commercials and couldn't help but be aware that they now promise "Free HD for Life" to their new customers. I went to the web page and tried to manage my account. That was the start of a downhill slide. I was about to get the toy pony so I figured I'd better ask about the real one.
First is the task of finding a phone number on the web site. It isn't everywhere. They would much rather you do your own work on the Internet forms. Or, maybe read the FAQ, or maybe submit an email query, or worst case load up their LiveChat applet. New customer? Oh, you call this number. Existing customer? Ahh, there's the number for existing stooges wanting a pony.
Dial, listen to machine telling me to state my request. Get decoyed into wrong menu choice. Wait for response. Get dropped for a busy signal after five minutes of advertising messages about what a valued customer I am. Lather, rinse, repeat three times. Twenty minutes into the engagement I'm ready for a cardboard pony if it will get me an interaction with a human.
Call once more. Punch "zero" in for every menu choice. Finally get a person. Ask about HD free. He tells me I'll lose my HD Platinum. I ask what channels that covers, since the info is unavailable on the web site. He rattles off a bunch that I've never heard of so I figure I can do without. I don't need Fashion Shopping Channel in HD nor the Fishing Network.
To get free HD, I've got two choice. Pay $99 or convert my account to paperless billing and automatic pay debit. I point out that $99 isn't "free" is it? OK, I go for the debit option. Ooops. Human can't do that on the phone. Must go to web site for that.
I ask about getting additional HD tuner, possibly with the DVR which they advertize and I don't have. He says that's an "upgrade" to my service. I point out that the web site clearly says three receivers at no charge and I've only got two. Ahh, that's for new customers on initial installation. But wait, I counter, I've been a valued customer (I know because they told me in one of the messages I heard while on hold...) for five years now. Don't I get at least the same service as a new guy off the street? Well, no I don't.
But wait again. I point out that when I initiated my service I got three receivers, but when I didn't add the third TV after a year I returned the unused box to the company. I want it back! Sorry, this is a program upgrade and you'll get a one time charge of...$99! Does the two TV DVR work through the system co-ax or does it need any extra line connecting the remote TV? Human doesn't know.
I sincerely believe that somewhere there is a company which actually provides customer service to their customers. I believe that there are real live humans answering phones somewhere to serve people. I believe they speak American English without accents and they can actually perform useful tasks for the customers. I believe there is managment somewhere that knows their business depends on satisfaction of their existing base and treating them at least as good as the new customer. I believe that customers are always right and satisfaction is guaranteed. I believe that behind the curtain is a real pony, but my TV service provider isn't treating it very well.