Customer Service Complacency? My Tale of Xfinity
So I was flipping around the channels the other night, not finding anything to watch other than Family Feud. What a barren wasteland of garbage floating around the cable TV dial: Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, live coverage of the RNC and DNC. All in all, it was a lot of gratuitous ass shots (not to mention bare butts).
Then it occurred to me…I'm home before 9 p.m. because softball season is over. My daughter plays travel ball and we were constantly on the go. Now that she's wrapped up the regular season (though tryouts for next year have already started) I need to occupy my time. The telly was an easy, and regrettable, choice.
It didn't used to be that way. Beginning around the year 2000 and continuing up until 2014, I faithfully ordered the MLB EXTRA INNINGS baseball package. For about $150 a year, I could watch my beloved Cincinnati Reds from April through September. That's $25ish per month, which is a pretty good value. During the early years, I would watch the Reds four times a week, sometimes more. I loved flipping on the TV and getting lost in baseball land for three hours a night.
Come next spring, and for many subsequent years, I could count on my friends in the former Comcast sales department to call around late March to gauge my interest in re-ordering MLB EXTRA INNINGS for the next season. They even knocked $10 off the promo rate because I was a repeat customer. I'd achieved favored nation status.
After many years, Comcast stopped calling. That puzzled me, because I'd been right as rain on ordering since day one. Not a big deal, I wasn't so lazy that I couldn't pick up the phone and call. I stuck with it.
As the years went on, I stopped getting the extra $10 off the promo rate. Then, around 2012 or 2013, I forgot to call during the promo period, and when I called to order, they stuck to their guns. The promo rate ended the previous day, so I would have to pay full freight, which was an additional $30.
I was livid. The CSR and I actually got into a shouting match on the phone. The rep kept pointing out that he couldn't give me anywhere near the promo rate, and I finally suggested that he perform a physical impossibility with his MLB EXTRA INNINGS package. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed, and the rep offered me a $25 credit toward my cable bill. I took the peace offering and ordered the package, but I still couldn't help but feel disgusted.
When next season rolled around, the jerk that exists deep inside of me (but manages to emerge with regularity) decided to wait until after the promo period ended to call Comcast. I apologized for missing the cutoff date and asked for a discount. No dice, pal. I wondered whether there was a red flag in my file, indicating I was a problem child. Not only was I not getting the discount, the rate had actually increased. Yes, they said, we know you have ordered this product for the last 13 years, but sorry, the promo rate has ended.
I ordered it, anyway. Baseball is a sickness. The first road to recovery, we're told, is admission.
It turned out to be a waste of money, anyway, because I was spending more and more time being involved with my daughter's softball teams. I didn't order the MLB EXTRA INNINGS at all in 2015, nor did I get it this season. Xfinity, as it is now called, has chosen not to pursue me for this product. Despite 14 years of faithful ordering, I guess they figured my $150-$200 was not worth the hassle. Mind you, I do purchase other Xfinity services, so the provider is risking me going elsewhere with indifferent customer service.
Then-Comcast clearly felt I'd been enjoying a cushy deal for far too long and didn't feel it needed to kowtow to the irate customer. Now-Xfinity — which has been trying to clean up its perception as a poor customer service provider — makes billions in profits and does not need my business.
I know my story is a B2C example, so it's far from an apples-to-apples customer service comparison. But what happens when your company encounters a problem with a longtime customer? How do you deal with customer service variables such as the sales rep and the print buyer both being somewhat at fault? Where's the tipping point when the business just isn't worth the hassle? Or do you believe that all jobs, no matter how small, are worth keeping? And is there a danger in becoming complacent with regular customers?
I've been two years clean of MLB EXTRA INNINGS, but am now completely addicted to travel softball (I refer to it as dad crack). I'm outside, I get sunburned and watch 4-5 games in one weekend. And it's major daddy-daughter time.
Given the amount of customers who are getting out from under cable television, perhaps this should be more of a red flag for Xfinity. Maybe I should be thanking them.