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Wednesday, March 7

Poor Service? Call and Complain

Not getting the service you expected?  Let them know.
One of the advantages to living frugally is that I have time.  Time to make sure I am treated fairly.  Time to compliment when someone exceeds my expectations and time to coach when appropriate.  Today I wanted to give an example of how to effectively lodge a complaint.

First off, and this is really important, you should never bully a company to take advantage of them.  This is just plain wrong and downright dirty.  I worked at a company once (I only lasted three months as I couldn't stand it) where the boss routinely contacted vendors and basically told them they were the scum of the earth.  He would rant and holler about taking his business elsewhere and make ridiculous demands for price concessions, just because he wanted to save a buck.  This behavior isn't what I promote.

What I am talking about is standing up for yourself.  Last week I was emailed my DSL bill from AT&T, and my bill was 25% higher.  I would always be surprised by such a steep increase (even though for me it's just $5 a month), but I've had so many issues with AT&T* that it was the principle of paying even a penny more for crappy service that bothered me.  Last Saturday I spent more than an hour trying to speak with a live person to find out why my bill had increased.  After getting locked out of my online account twice, disconnected from the broken phone tree three times, and ultimately chatting online with a completely useless rep, I was told the billing department was not open on weekends.

Yesterday I called the billing department.  I calmly, but firmly, stated that I was not happy with 1) not being notified that prices were being increased, and 2) wasting my time on Saturday trying to be assisted.  I asked for an explanation for the price increase and for monetary consideration for my wasted time.  Initially, I was told that it is not their policy to compensate me for my time (no surprise there).  I was also told that letters and emails had been mailed to explain the price increase, of which none I had received.  I was expecting my request to be rebuffed, which is why I had reinforcements up my sleeve.  For the last two weeks the local cable company has been installing lines in my neighborhood (for the last four years DSL has been my only option for Internet service).  I explained to the rep that I was not happy and that I was certain my cable company would begin offering service in the near future.  This is where I got some help.

The AT&T rep asked if she could place me on hold, and after a brief pause she returned with an offer.  Her offer was to upgrade my service and cut the price of the upgraded service by 50% for six months.  She even explained that if I still wasn't satisfied in six months I could call back to see if something else could be done.  The offer keeps my price at the old rate I was paying, but triples my DSL speed.  In six months time I'm sure my cable company will be offering high speed Internet, and then I will be able to make a fair comparison of both services to see which works best for me.

Don't give up.  If a company values your business, but isn't meeting your expectations, let them know.  It's good for the company to know because it lets them see areas where improvement is needed.  And it's good for you, the customer, because you will often get some help.

*When I first signed up for AT&T I purchased a faulty router directly through AT&T.  The router worked about 80% of the time, but anyone who relies on a steady Internet connection knows that won't work.  It took more than a year before I finally determined it was the router causing my problems.  I replaced it and the problem was solved.  Of course, AT&T refused to refund my money for the router because I had owned it for more than a year, even though I had called numerous times to complain when my service was out.

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