Tag: service

The Sylvania G dies, but yields an AWESOME customer service experience.

It’s official: something went severely wrong with the Sylvania G netbook I bought in October.  The keyboard AND POWER BUTTON will completely “lock up” at random and QUICKLY, yet the computer itself still runs in the background, and the hard drive developed a couple of bad sectors (which I remedied by doing a zero fill–more on that in another post).  It’s fairly unusable now, and it’s still within the warranty period, so I called up Sylvania’s support number for help.  The company that actually makes these netbooks is called Digital Gadgets, and it is them who I have dealt with.  So, how did it go?

I haven’t been this happy about a customer service experience EVER.

I explained to the tech that I bought the netbook in October 2008, that I run a computer service shop, and detailed heavily what was wrong and the evidence that I had gathered to make my judgment call that the netbook was screwed up.  Apparently the ink used for the serial number sticker is poor, because it had smudged off to the point that it was unreadable, which I made very clear early on in the call.  This is about where you would expect me to spew off about the run-around I was given and the stupid hoops I had to jump through to prove to the person that it was indeed screwed up, because 99.9% of service and support agents have almost no authority to help customers and are usually in the business of preventing warranty returns at any cost.

But that didn’t happen, not even a tiny little bit.  No run-around?  Surely I jest, right?  WRONG!

The tech support agent, named William Lee, promptly started the process of generating an RMA and took my shipping address to send a totally free return shipping box to.  About eight hours later (and after business hours, no less) I had an RMA number in my email inbox, with instructions on what to do when the box arrived.  As of this writing, the box hasn’t yet appeared, but that’s because I only called them a couple of days ago.

It is astonishingly refreshing to be able to deal with someone like William.  He did everything exactly right, without a single flaw in his procedure.  He LISTENED TO THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM, taking the time to ensure he understood exactly what was going on from my perspective.  He also BELIEVED THE CUSTOMER’S STORY AND EXHIBITED BELIEF IN THE CUSTOMER’S GOOD FAITH, which is the exact opposite of what most suppot agents do: showing a lack of faith and general distrust of the customer right off the bat.  Because he LISTENED and BELIEVED, this brought about the UNDERSTANDING  that there was a clear issue covered under the warranty which needed to be resolved quickly as possible.  Within a reasonable time frame, he PROVIDED A SPEEDY RESOLUTION TO THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM.

Let me explain exactly why I am writing in this fashion.  William’s example should be followed by all companies, and sadly it is almost nonexistent in the corporate customer service landscape of today.  The benefits to the customer (in this case, myself) are fairly obvious: the problem was resolved quickly and the customer’s precious time was not wasted to achieve that resolution.  But what about the benefits of William’s actions to the BUSINESS?

  1. William spent as little time as possible chatting it up on the telephone.  This left William free to service other customers, reducing overall load on the customer service department at Digital Gadgets.  It also made William a much more valuable asset to the company, because William is able to service more customers than an agent who is given no authority and is required by the company to simply  toss customers through hoops.
  2. On the flip side, William did not abbreviate our conversation.  He spent the time required to understand my situation, but did not ask me to perform senseless exercises when it was quite clear that the problem was hardware-related and not fixable over the phone.
  3. I was heard but not patronized, AND a SIMPLE solution was presented QUICKLY.  This greatly increases my faith in Digital Gadgets as one of their customers, increasing the chances that I will purchase from them in the future AND RECOMMEND THEIR PRODUCTS TO OTHERS  AS WELL.  Over time and across many customers who are similarly situated, this leads to MORE SALES, which can quickly and easily exceed the cost of a warranty repair on my one individual netbook.

William is doing it right.  Other businesses could take a few lessons from how he handled my situation.  I can’t wait to get my fixed toy back in good working order, and I’m very happy to have bought a computer from a company that treats me like a customer should be treated.

Time ensures that things rarely remain the same.

At Tritech, many things have changed since even just one month ago. Here’s a spiffy list of such things. By the way, my new favorite word is “terse.” The magic of the word “terse” is that practically all of its synonyms not as terse as “terse.” It’s a self-fulfilling definition! ^_^ So, what’s been going on during my silence, you ask? Read on!

Guerrilla dishonesty! Thanks, DirecTV!

I ordered DirecTV service for my home a month or so ago, because where I live we have Charter Communications for cable and Charter’s prices are astronomical (and service level significantly lower than what I’m used to.)  It’s unfortunate that Time Warner isn’t the cable provider in the area, because as an ex-contractor for them and as a long-time customer, I felt that overall Time Warner Cable was about as good as a monopoly cable company could get, and while no big company seems to do the customer right 100% of the time, they at least seemed to give half a damn about customer satisfaction and value for the money.  Honestly, I was disappointed that I’d have to move to satellite service, especially with the threat of things like long-term contracts looming.  Yes, you have to commit to a contract with DirecTV, but I understand that it’s a way of subsidizing the equipment installation costs, so it’s not that big of a deal to me.

What is a big deal, however, is the “teaser deals” and impossible-to-understand terms under which the service was sold to me.  I ordered a $40/month package because it was the lowest I could get with a DVR (vital to keep the wife happy, lest I be tormented for the rest of my days).

Imagine my surprise when I receive a bill with a base package price of $65.  That’s before some of the kooky fees that come along with the deal.

Here’s how it works: the sweet deal only lasts one year (12 months), and to get the sweet deal, you have to mail in or electronically submit a rebate request with an apparent 6-8 week wait for processing.  The representative forgot to mention that little detail, and I have to pay the significantly higher bill now, then wait until this rebate is credited back to my account at some arbitrary point in the future.

They really do make it impossible to know what you’re getting into.  You know all the fine print under their packages on their website?  Here’s copypasta of the one for my package (emphasis added):

Offer ends 3/3/09 and is based on approved credit; credit card required. Price reflects an $18 bill credit per month for 12 months after online or call-in rebate, plus an additional $5 bill credit per month for 12 months when you enroll in Auto Bill Pay program and provide a valid email address for the latest news and special offers from DIRECTV. New customers only (Lease required. Must maintain programming, DVR Service and/or HD Access). Lease fee $4.99/mo. for 2nd and each additional reciever. See offer details.

You have to have a credit card, pass a credit check, fill out a rebate form, AND give them access to your account or card, AND be willing to receive DirecTV spam, just to get the price they advertise.

Where did honesty and transparency in business practices go in this country?  Why do I have to jump through 100 hoops just to pay the price that the salesweasels at DirecTV shout about?  Doesn’t this seem a bit dishonest to anyone else out there?  If I ran my computer business the way DirecTV does their sales, I’d be out of business within a few months.  Every major electronics retailer seems to do the same thing with covertly hidden “pre-rebate” pricing and attempts to “add value” in ways that only add value to their wallets rather than the customer’s actual needs.

Let me be very clear: I feel that rebates are a dishonest business practice.  It’s a way to prey upon peoples’ personality flaws that prevent them from successfully and correctly submitting the rebate in order to extract more dollars from them.  Big business seems to be exclusively in the game of extracting as much cash from each customer as possible regardless of the morality of how they go about doing so and regardless of actual customer needs. It infuriates me to no end, and I’m tired of it.

When someone walks into Tritech Computer Solutions, they see each and every thing on my price sheet quoted with the actual final price.  There are no rebates.  There are no ripoff “extended warranty plans” to mess with.  The price quoted is the price paid.  No deception, no distraction, no questions necessary, period.

Why can’t every business work like that?  Dread the thought that a business actually keeps its customers happy and listens to their needs!  I suppose that’s the corruption of trying to pad out your books for the fourth fiscal quarter so your stock doesn’t take a hit!