Saturday, May 13, 2017

Customer Service?

 “Your plan is not compatible with this phone.”

I hope you’re up for another story about customer service.

Ellie and I got new smart phones and a less expensive plan with the same wireless provider in late March. We switched to phones that are slightly less expensive than the prior ones, added the cost of the interest-free loan for the screen savers and phone covers, and expected to save approximately $15 on our wireless bill. I left the store feeling good about what we had done. 

Imagine my surprise ( and other emotions ) when our next bill came and it was approximately the same as prior bills! And it included recurring costs for the phone cases and screen savers.

Loaded for bear, so to speak, I called customer service to get this fixed. As politely as she could, and she was quite polite, the representative reminded me that the recurring cost of the cases and screen savers was paying off the interest-free loan we signed up for. “Oh, crap,” I said. “Of course; I apologize as humbly as possible. I forgot we’re using your money!”

About the other discrepancy, however, she noted an error: the clerk in the store had failed to switch our plan. The customer service rep did what she needed to do, told us the change is now made, and gave me the exact amount that I would be charged when the charge occurred. This was good; I was happy.

Until the amount was charged to my card. It was the amount on the bill that I complained about. “Yikes,” I thought, “these people are really incredible!”

On the phone again with Customer Service, I am told that once the bill is printed/delivered/calculated, it cannot be changed. Also, to unburden me from having to figure out the details of a prorated bill, if they change plans in the middle of a billing cycle, they don’t prorate bills. Yes. Even when they switch a plan in the middle of a billing cycle, they don’t switch the rate at which customer gets charged mid cycle.

I could scarcely believe my own ears. ( “Does this same philosophy hold,” I did not ask, “when the customer is switching to a more expensive
plan?” ) “So ( the name of the tech I spoke to before ) didn’t know this when she told me the exact amount you’d charge me?”

“She should have known, yes sir. I apologize for her error.”

“This is ridiculous.”

He offered to credit my account for the difference between what they charged and what they should have charged. I accepted that offer and we graciously wished each other pleasant dreams.

Less than two weeks later Ellie and I were driving to meet her sister, in town from Texas; we’re meeting at a restaurant we’ve been to before but whose specific location we didn’t remember. “It won’t come up,” she said, trying to get Google on her phone.

She tried all the usual things, like closing and reopening the application, shutting the phone down and restarting it, trying a different web site, and she kept getting no response, or, when she did get a response, it was a message, “Your plan is not compatible with this phone.” Eventually I pulled over, pulled out my phone, did the same things, and found the address of the restaurant. We entered that into the car’s GPS, continued our trip, and had a nice dinner with my sister-in-law.

Later, I found myself talking to customer service, again. “And what is going on with your phone?”

“Blah blah; no response; blah WiFi here at home. Your plan is not compatible with this phone, sometimes.”

This error message seemed to trigger a memory in my CS rep; she excused herself. She returned. “Your plan,” she explained, “has a no-cost add-on of unlimited internet, which didn’t get added to your wife’s phone. I can add it here, she needs to shut her phone off for 30 minutes, restart, and all will be good.”

“Would you please check my phone, to see if it has that option?” I asked.

“Nope, yours doesn’t either. I’ll add it, you shut your phone off for 30 minutes, and all will be good. Call back if either of you can’t access the internet without WiFi.”

I have now invested one visit to a store and three phone calls to Customer Service attempting to change my plan and get new phones. I checked my bill and it finally seems correct. Both Ellie and I can access the internet without WiFi … but we could both do that for a time earlier, too. I think we have been successful, but I wonder. I also wonder if this would be as difficult with another provider.

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