I think we truly live in an era of complexity as consumers. I am starting to believe that business really doesn’t care about the customer after the sale. No, this isn’t one of the “customer always right” articles because the customer isn’t always right. This is one of those “make life as painful as possible for customers” because you’re not part of the thought process.
I decided to call Rogers on Civic Holiday to cancel two ‘dead phones’ on my current wireless plan. I am proud owner to one of those older plans where 3 cell phones under a single plan offered up unlimited calling between each number. This plan was created a few years before My5 and My10 were released by Rogers allowing subscribers to make unlimited calling easy between ANY phone number (landline or cellphone); thereby, de-coupling the physical phone from the process.
At the time, the three phones were setup for unlimited calling between my parents and I as my father shifted from hospital to old age home. Sadly, he passed on and as such, I was stuck with a legacy plan. There were no options. If I cancelled my plan a few years back, I would have been stuck with ETFs (early termination fees) totaling roughly $400+ each. Instead, I asked Rogers to freeze the lines and to put them on an emergency fee plan (approximately $15-$20 per phone per month). My calculations at the time indicated I’d save close to $400 doing this than paying the ETFs outright for both wireless numbers.s
I’m now one month away from full contract expiration with Rogers. Even though I have opted out of every marketing message known to mankind, I have been getting clobbered for Rogers loyalty with offers to get a new Android smartphone which hardly makes any sense since I currently own an iPhone 3GS and have already made significant investments in Apple’s ecosystem with apps and other content.
Although, I asked Rogers if there was some option for me given my particular case, I was stuck with two legacy phones and lines and a monthly payout of $40 for something which was no longer relevant to me. Keep in mind, I did try and find people to offload the numbers to over this period to no avail.
So I called Rogers to cancel my two inactive cell numbers. THE RESULT: It took me 45 minutes to complete this request.
Me: Hi Rogers, my contract is expiring next month and I’d like to cancel two 647 numbers that I have not used in ages. In fact, the lines are inactive and are on the emergency plan.
Rogers Rep: Is there any reason why you’d like to cancel them? Maybe you can find someone to take over these two phone lines as THEY will save on activation fees.
Me: The phone lines have been inactive and on an emergency plan for a long period of time — I would have found someone if I could.
Rogers Rep: Are you sure there is no one who could assume these lines?
Me (not impressed tone): No.
Rogers Rep: OK, let me make a note about your request and transfer your call to the department that will fulfill it.
(idle dead time, listening to some music, click…long wait for next rep)
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Hi, can you please verify your information again. (This is my number, date of birth, postal code. Even though I did all this with the first rep, I am asked to provide again.)
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: How can I help you?
Me: Oh? I thought the other rep was going to prep you for this call. Looks like they didn’t. I have two phone lines, inactive and on an emergency plan, that I’d like removed from my plan as I have no more use for them.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Is there any reason why you don’t want them anymore?
(Dear Sweet Geezus….)
Me: I already told the other rep so let me repeat again. Inactive, emergency plan phones because I no longer had any use for them and did not want to pay the ETF.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Isn’t there anyone you could FIND to take over these lines?
(Dear Sweet Heavenly Goodness!)
Me: No, as I told the other rep and now you again, there is no one. I would have found someone early on to avoid all this. Please remove these numbers from my plan.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: OK, let me do this for you. Thank you for being a Rogers customer. Please stay on the line. By the way, do you need a tablet?
Me: Uh, what? A tablet? What are you asking me?
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: Well, to give you something in return for these cancelled phones (I guess, a new subsidy and new contract since I’m a month away from expiration)
Me: Nope, have an iPad. Should be on your profile since I buy your 3G data services for my iPad.
Rogers Rep to Fulfill my Request: OK, please stay on the line.
(Total cumulative time between initial call, first rep, transfer, second rep, and now holding status: 30 MINUTES)
I lost the connection to the rep. Happens all too often, I tell you. So I must call the fortress back and go through the process…again. Sigh.
I call again.
Me: Hi, I was on hold with ‘someone’ responsible for cancelling two phone lines on my current account/plan.
Rogers Rep: Is there any reason why you’re cancelling the line?
(Dear Sweet Heavenly Clementine!)
Me: Look, I’ve been asked a zillion times. I’ve explained myself too many times. These are inactive, emergency phone plans that were no longer useful and I was stuck with them to avoid ETFs. Please transfer me.
Rogers Rep: OK, there is a real backup on the queue but I’ll transfer you to the proper department.
(Long wait time follows… and finally!)
Rogers Rep: Yes, may I help you?
Me: Yes, I was on hold in the process of cancelling two phone lines from my current plan but lost connection. I’d like to know if they were cancelled as the rep never called me back to confirm after lost connection.
Rogers Rep: Please hold while I check your file. But before I continue, I need you to verify your date of birth, postal code and name.
So I provide this info…again. Sigh. :-)
Rogers Rep: Yes, the two phone lines were cancelled.
Me: Thanks. Can you provide me with the termination/cancellation reference code and last date of service? Thank you.
What’s Wrong with this Picture
I wasted a cumulative total of45 minutes to cancel two phone lines that were of no use to me until contract expiration. Between four reps, I was asked four times why I didn’t need the phone lines anymore even though it was clear as pie that they were inactive, frozen, and on an emergency plan. In separate occasions, rather than listen to my request, Rogers call scripts instead suggested they make things really difficult, putting their needs over mine to help them find someone to transfer the lines over to. C’mon folks. Listen to ME.
- Their information systems were not good enough to see that I used an iPad and their data services.
- They did not capture my reasons well enough since I had to repeat my “reasons” each and every time and tell them I had no interest to find them some customers (again, I tried long ago but was never successful).
- Their process was configured to transfer my call each time to another department to fulfill my request to cancel phone lines. I know operationally, there may be a reason but to a customer, it just seems like another layer of time wasted. Why transfer me and make me wait on another queue? For “retention” reasons? I’m not leaving - just cancelling two dead lines.
They did all this to me even though I was keeping one phone line with them. My iPhone 3GS plan. Is this how incumbents show their loyalty? This isn’t customer service. This is pain compliance. Every time I have to call an incumbent’s customer service group, I feel the pain in advance of the call because mentally I know the process will be painful and lengthy. Rather than make this pain and “guilt” free, I had to endure this painful process to get to the finish line.
Is this really worth 45 minutes of my time? OK, to be fair, I lost the connection in the first go-round so that added the additional 15 minutes but still, 30 minutes is a long time for any customer.
There is only one way to stop all of this. No more contracts. Pay for your phone outright, focus on a no-contract plan with incumbent providers, or go to an upstart provider like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile where the companies are forced to be good with customers with lower rate, no contract plans. I know there are well-intentioned customer service folks working the beat at incumbent providers but that doesn’t change the fact that organizationally, those good intentions are sometimes overwhelmed by call script agendas which hamper the customer service process.
At upstarts, customers ARE the life-blood (yes, they are at incumbents too) of their existence and must do more to keep good customers happy. No, I am not suggesting customers should rule the day, demand everything and be stupid about things. Those are ‘problem’ customers. No one needs them. But the customer contract is very different when I speak to a rep from Wind Mobile vs. one from Rogers.
These incidents should not go unnoticed. I know they’re not unique as consumer sentiment in Canada about their telecom providers is wildly negative. Perhaps more than in the US. If anyone at Rogers is reading this, please understand the issues and find a better way to fine-tune your processes with customers. The customer engagement call for this type of situation should not be 30 minutes riddled with script queries.
Next time, don’t make it so hard for a customer to do what they want easily. I met my obligations under the contract commitment. Don’t make work for me. If I were Rogers, I’d automate such cancellations through online self-service tools. Be brave enough to let your customers walk away from features or contract terms at the end of the term with a retention program in effect. It’s the right thing to do because the charade experienced above simply puts a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. It says, “it’s too difficult to do business with you. Why commit to a contract?”
To date, there is only one company that has given me “hassle free” customer service. Apple. The program? APPLECARE.