Monday, December 28, 2009

Small (Really Small) Victories

My Blog Wrangler, Susan, is often a lone voice muttering "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more" as she waits patiently on hold. If you were around in 1976 that quote may sound familiar. Check out YouTube clips (click here for one) of Albert Finney's Academy Award winning performance in the movie Network. Very eerie. His rant is just as relevant today as it was over 30 years ago.

Example 1
Our AT&T Bill, for service from Dec 5, 2009 thru Jan 4, 2010, showed a new higher rate - by $2. Susan read the fine print: "... new rates will become effective no earlier than Jan 7, 2010". After over 15 minutes on hold to get to a real human, she politely (yes, politely) questioned why the increase showed up a month early. The representative put her on hold for another 5 minutes to
"research the item in question on your current bill."

The end result was that yes, the $2 increase will go into effect next month but because of the "billing error" we will receive a $5 credit on our next bill. Sweet!

But the questions she didn't ask AT&T were:
We have a plain, ordinary account. How many other ordinary customers did you slap that $2 charge on and they didn't question it?
How much money billed in error are you making from customers who didn't notice it was incorrectly assessed?

Example 2
Time Warner Cable's bill for service from Dec 12, 2009 through Jan 15, 2010 showed the usual rate for Standard (not the new "turbo") internet service. But last month's bill included a very small print "Service Pricing" page with "Rates effective 12/01/09". That page indicated the Standard internet service would drop by $5 a month, probably due to the fact that AT&T U-verse, DSL and Clear are currently waging strong ad campaigns to snare us in as customers. So why didn't our our rate drop?

This phone call included only 3 minutes on hold, AFTER being disconnected 7 separate times when following the voice prompts for "Question about your bill?". Finally, Susan was polite as the Representative told her only "new matrix" customers were being given the lower rate, all other "old matrix" customers would retain their original rate.

Susan: But you changed my Standard Cable TV rate up. Why can't you change my Standard Internet rate down at the same time?
Representative: You are on the "old matrix" and we don't do it that way.
Susan: Yes you can. You sent me a Service Pricing announcement of rates effective 12/01/09 and it doesn't say anything about old and new matrix and if you changed my TV matrix you can also change me to the lower Internet rate as shown on that new Service Pricing announcement.
Representative: OK. And I'll give you a credit for this month also.


Diane O. said...

Good on you for fighting back. It stinks that you have to in the first place. Your hourly wage in time spent went to zero though. Big companies do that stuff all the time and 99% + of the folks just blindly pay and don't bother to check why.

Sherry Goodloe said...

I just love it when I make those kind of calls and get a refund or a lower rate on something!

Last year around this time I called my cable/internet/telephone company *COX* and asked them if I was missing out on any specials. (I do this about every 3 months or so now). They said that new customers can get internet for the first 3 months free. Sooooo, I had them cancel my internet, sign me up again and whalah, I got internet for free for 3 months.

Hey, a single woman has got to do what a single woman has got to do to save some $$, right? *smiles*

Lost Aussie said...

Good for you, sad though that our victories come in $2 and $5 increments!

magpie said...

not Albert Finney....
Peter Finch