The Cable TV bill showed up today with the annual price increase. (Actually, I don’t have Cable TV. I only purchase internet service, and the CATV provider is also the internet provider.) I’m sure many of you know, but in case you didn’t, these companies typically offer a 12-month introductory price for new customers. Then, after 12 months, they automatically increase the price. In my case, it’s a fairly significant 33% increase!
With several of these companies, you can call them up and ask for a price reduction. Years ago, all you had to do was to take 2 minutes out of your life to call them, nicely ask for the reduction, and they happily gave it to you instantly. Over the years, it has become more and more difficult to do so. It has become a dance, sort of a tango, to go back and forth with them, trying to convince them to retain you as a customer. These companies know that it’s easier (and cheaper) to retain a customer than it is to lose them and try to win them back later.
Thinking it’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar, I put a big smile on my face and called up my CATV (internet) company. Figuring that these people are only doing their job, there’s no point in being mean or demanding of them. When the agent answered and asked me what she can do to help, I replied, “I’m calling to help you retain me as your customer.” I explained that I liked their service, that I don’t need any more or any less features, and that I just wanted to pay the price that I used to. She replied with the standard, “Let me see what I can do for you.” She put me on hold (more of the game), came back and said, “I’m sorry, but the only thing I can do for you is actually more expensive than your new price.” I said that wasn’t what I was hoping to hear, and asked to talk to the “customer retention department”.
Stepping up the Game
What I didn’t expect with this call was what came next. She explained that things aren’t like they used to be. They used to be able to renew those introductory low prices, but they can’t anymore. Speaking with her manager wouldn’t do any good. I explained that I was leaving the country on travel for 2.5 weeks, and that I’d even quit being a customer. I’d do that, because after 1 month, I could re-join as a new customer at the new customer introductory prices. Here I was, saying I was going to quit their service, and she wasn’t willing to budge on price.
She continued to say that times are tough, and she and all of the agents are getting judged on customer satisfaction surveys, and it’s in her best interest to keep me happy. She even went on to say that she could lose her job if people like me aren’t satisfied. With a smile on my face (so she could hear me being nice and polite), I again asked to speak to the retention department. She was actually getting a little livid at this point, saying that they can’t do anything for me, and that I shouldn’t be so upset with her. I explained that I understand that this was just a little dance that we have to do and I didn’t blame her. She again insisted that this wasn’t the case, and this is all the company can do for me, but if I really wanted to talk to her manager, she would connect me. I said, “Yes, please.”
After I was connected to her manager, I again explained that I just wanted to give them an opportunity to retain me as a customer by keeping my price the same as it was before. He said he would check, and put me on hold. A few seconds later and he said that they could do it (contrary to what the first person said they absolutely couldn’t do anymore). It’s all a big scam. A big sob story to get the weak-willed people to give up and just keep paying 33% more.
I’m glad to be back at the original new customer “introductory” price for another 12 months. Don’t be afraid to call and (nicely) ask to have your rates reduced, and don’t let them fool you that they can’t do that for you.