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Complaining To The Cable Company

7 Feb

On Tuesday I wrote about a recent experience with Sephora customer service. I’d like to elaborate on that a little, because good customer service is a rarity. I feel like not enough people know about how amazing Sephora is in terms of customer service. So many people are shocked to hear about Sephora’s de-freaking-lightful return policy. You can buy say, a blush, and use it (use it 10 times if you want! Obviously you can’t use it ALL, but you can give it a decent trial period), and then return it, no questions asked (they will ask if you used it, but that’s just so they don’t try to sell it again).  Then there’s the story from the previous post, which, I realize, started with a lost package, but the way they handled it was outstanding. SO HELPFUL. I’d like to add that my initial email to customer service was very nice, and not all “Where the fuck is my order?!” I told them that I could see from the tracking number that the package DID arrive at the post office, so maybe it was now out of their hands, and it was a USPS issue instead of a Sephora issue. I told them that I’d always had amazing experiences with Sephora customer service, which I could not say about the USPS, and so I decided to start with them instead of the dreaded post office. I got an email back from Randi within a day that was extremely polite and helpful. Here’s a little secret: If you’re nice to people (I’m speaking specifically about people you’re trying to get help from) they will be nice to you. This works EVERY TIME, and it’s not hard. Maybe you’re an asshole, that’s ok. PRETEND. Pretend to be a nice person, and the quality of service you receive will be infinitely better. It’s amazing how many people have no idea this “trick” exists. Granted, sometimes it’s beneficial to be a bit of a hard ass. Not mean, but kind of tough. That brings me to today’s tale.

I was having issues with my Time Warner Cable. Some channels would come in choppy, with the picture and audio breaking up, freezing, and being all around annoying. I’ve NEVER had a good experience with a cable company, be it Time Warner or my previous provider, Comcast. Some friends had good experiences with DirecTV, so I decided to switch. I was fed up with Time Warner’s bullshit, and DirecTV would save me quite a bit of money.

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Of course, when I called to cancel my Time Warner service, they tried to sell me on their service/trash talk DirecTV. The woman (let’s call her Diane) I spoke to told me that if I wanted to switch to just internet service it would be $50 a month, when EVERY bit of information on the Time Warner site said it would be $20. So Diane started this whole phone conversation by pissing me off. Good job, TWC! I was mad, and when I get mad I get stubborn. I told her that I didn’t care if it was going to be $50 instead of $20, I was fed up, and I wanted out. The internet service was fine, but the my cable service was a complete fiasco. DirecTV would give me all the channels I had now, and more, plus HBO and Showtime, for $50 a month. This was a slight exaggeration. I think it was actually going to be $70 a month, but I was mad, and I was willing to bend the truth a little.

Diane kept telling me about how DirecTV would make me sign a contract, and that if my equipment broke I’d have to send it to them across the country, and Time Warner had neither of these downsides. “But Diane,” I countered, “DirecTV actually works, so there’s no need to send back equipment. You have to provide local technicians because your product is faulty.” Diane kept stressing these points to try to get me to stay, and I finally had to cut her off and clarify, “Diane. DIANE. This is not the way to sell me.” I explained. “I’m all about the money. I will stick with whoever gives me the most for less. I don’t care about anything else. I will stick with Time Warner if you give me everything I have now: Internet, a full cable package, HBO, and add Showtime, and I want a ridiculously low bill. I’m thinking $50 a month.” Diane went to speak to her supervisor.

“I can do $80 a month plus tax.” Diane countered. We had a deal.

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Now, a little further explanation. I used to live in Illinois, where I had Comcast. I would call them on a regular basis and say that I was thinking of changing my service, and they’d lower my bill by $20 or so. It was never as sweet a deal as the one I got from Time Warner a few weeks ago. The difference? Location. In Illinois my choices were basically Comcast or a satellite, but satellites were a stupid option in the midwest because we have this thing called “weather.” Every person I knew with a dish said that it worked like, 60% of the time. If it got a little windy, or rainy, or a tornado came through town, you were SOL. Comcast knew that my options were limited, so they could get away with offering me a bum deal.

On the other hand, now that I live in Los Angeles, I have a myriad of options. There is no weather! And because of our lack of any weather other than sunny and beautiful 99% of the time, satellite dishes are a totally viable and popular option. In fact, Time Warner and other cable companies are downright desperate to keep their customers. Desperate enough to provide me internet and cable for half of what I “should” be paying.

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There’s also the fact that I was stern, but still nice. I never told Diane that Time Warner was horrible, or that I hated them, or that they were robbing me. I politely told her that my reception on certain channels was choppy, and that I wanted to pay much less, and that if I didn’t get my bill cut down significantly I would leave. But I was always polite. I wasn’t threatening her, I was just explaining my point of view. I’m usually saccharine sweet with customer service, but this time I needed to get tough, so I cut my sweet level down to just “nice.” And I got results! And as for those choppy channels? Diane sent someone out the next day, and they replaced my entire cable line, FO’ FREE.

Am I delighted with my Time Warner service? Not really. Will I stick with them? Eh. Undecided. But for six months I’m paying $90 for a package that should cost me something like $150, so for now I’m happy. Thank you Diane, for finally realizing that I’ll stick with a horrible company in exchange for paying a ludicrously low amount for their services. And let this be a lesson to you all: Be nice! Be tough if you have to! Don’t be an asshole! Good things will come.

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