Thursday, August 23, 2012

Customer Service is Dead!

I recently had an experience with my wireless carrier that left me feeling less than satisfied with the company.  In fact, it seems to be a growing trend not only among wireless carries but many types of service providers and it begs the question, what ever happened to customer server?   There was a time where companies, great companies, prided themselves on customer service.  Some companies such as L.L. Bean and Apple still thrive on this concept while others seem to only care about the bottom line.

I will begin by sharing my experience with Sprint wireless.  I had been a long time customer of T-Mobile but when I decided I wanted to move from Android to iPhone, I had to select a new provider (or buy a hacked phone).  After looking into the options, I opted to go with Sprint as my provider.  I moved my phone over a few months back when I came off contract and in general have been happy with the service and the customer service.  In early August, my wife's phone came off contract and when it did, I ran down to my local Sprint store to purchase her an iPhone and move her line to the service.

To understand the costs involved, I had several online chat sessions with Sprint asking a number of questions etc.  When I showed up at the store, I was informed and new exactly what I wanted to do.  I selected the phone, and asked for an upgrade to a family plan.  I was told at the store that the cost of the service monthly would be $149.99 plus tax and that there would not be an activation fee for adding the new line.  This all sounded fine and I signed away.

My bill came and in reviewing it, I immediately noticed that I was being charged an activation fee.  At that point, I immediately contacted billing support and outlined the issue.
I was surprised when I received a response from Customer Service saying that they are not able to remove the charge and that it is a valid charge that all customers receive.  They suggested that I contact the local store to see what they can do.  This is where my problem starts.

The local store directly represents Sprint.  I do not get billed by the local store, I get billed by Sprint.  So, in this case where I have been told by a representative of their company that the activation fee will be waived, and then I am billed by the organization, shouldn't the billing department be able to remove the charge?  This is why I believe customer service is dead.  If someone from your company promises something and that is not valid, I believe that the company should honor what has been promised.  It is not acceptable to say that it can't be done when someone from your company has told you that it will be done.

What companies fail to realize is that customers talk.  In fact, in the day of social media, customers can reach a much greater audience that they ever could before.  It would seem to me that companies such as Sprint should be much more focused on customers than ever before.  It is not a secret that Sprint has struggled to maintain business in the wireless market,  you would think that keeping your customers happy and honoring the word of your sales team would be important.  The alternative of course is that customers will announce the issues they have with the world at large providing feedback to millions of potential customers.

So, what I would ask of any company that has sales outlets is that they honor the promises of the employees they have representing them.  If I had pulled the phone off a shelf marked $99.99 in a bricks and mortar store, the store would honor that price as that is the way it was marked.  Perhaps the bigger frustration is that they do have a promotion (as noted by the customer service rep) that waives the activation fee but only on purchases made through the Internet.

In other words, we provide a local store for you to purchase our services and they are there to help you, correct issues etc however, if you want a good deal, you should buy from our website where there is no one to answer your questions and the experience is non-personal transaction.



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