I still don't have HDTV.

by francine Hardaway on January 11, 2005

I still don’t have HDTV. Yes, I bought the 50″ unit and I signed up for it. Cox was supposed to connect it two weeks ago, but they didn’t. They came on the wrong day; I wasn’t home, they left me a Spanish doorhanger — a compliment to my beginning Spanish — and they didn’t come back.

Cox also took three weeks to connect a single simple land line I was going to use to connect my Tivo to the cybersphere in which its information resides. In the interim, I called them no less than twenty times (oh yes, I’m outcomes oriented).

Cox has interesting customer service. When you call, everyone is very nice. They sound helpful. When they come to your house (if they come at the time they said they would and you are home), they seem competent and willing. But they don’t seem to do anything. There is no outcome. Once they came to remove the phone box just after I ordered the phone. When I stopped them from taking it away, they didn’t connect the phone (that’s a different service). Instead, they left, having done nothing but having made a dozen phone calls.

They finally connected the phone line when I threatened to cancel my phone, high speed Internet, and cable TV accounts. But now they have forgotten about my HD TV. It’s not the same division that does the phones, and the phone guys can’t help me (although they say they would love to).

The TV guys are divided into the people who service phone sales (you call in and order a service) and the “retail” group (the people who entice you to order HDTV when you are in Best Buy getting the LCD TV.
They don’t appear to talk to each other, and they definitely don’t service each others’ accounts.

After a month of spending my cell phone minutes on hold for Cox customer service, I’ve decided to take a new tack: I’m going to passively wait to see how long it takes them to figure out they haven’t given me a service they could be charging me for.

I wouldn’t be talking about this if I hadn’t had another customer service experience this week that makes even Cox look sensible.

I called my auto insurance provider to take my former foster kid’s car off my insurance, since I had titled the car to her, she was no longer living with me, and I was attempting to get out from the financial responsibility of dealing with a 20-year-old over whom I had no control. You would think Met Life would be thrilled to get her off my policy.

But no, they told me they couldn’t do it. Not unless I had a certified document showing that she had other insurance. Not a prayer. In vain I argued that she wasn’t my child, was over 18, and didn’t live with me. And that I no longer owned the car.

They told me there were “guidelines” that wouldn’t allow them to let me take her off my policy.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m a reader. “Guidelines” is not a synonym for “laws.” So I bravely stated, “So if you won’t remove her, I guess I will have to cancel my policy and go with another insurance company.”

And sure enough, the customer service rep said, “if that’s what you think you have to do…” It was, and I dissolved a ten-year relationship with MetLife over their poor customer service and utter indifference to our continued commerce.

I teach seminars on how expensive it is to acquire a new customer. Don’t Cox or MetLife take those seminars? Or don’t they care?

On a more positive note: every once in a while you come across someone who intuitively understands the psychological underpinnings of customer service. The best customer service I have received lately is from Jason Brown at North Scottsdale Audi.

I brought my car in because it was having some problems that I determined were shifting problems. Three times before, Audi had tested the car on their computers and told me nothing was wrong. But this time, Audi and Jason decided I had endured enough, and they put a new transmission in my car at no charge. And Jason got me a rental car for nothing. And then he absorbed the cost of the upgrade from the rental car I was supposed to get and the one I needed for the dogs.

In addition, he called me every couple of days to let me know the ETA of my transmission. Jason is so good at customer service that he threw the pathetic efforts of Cox and MetLife into brilliant relief.

I think Jason hangs the moon. And all because he takes the time to be present to his encounters with me. I think Audi could maximize revenue by lending Jason out to Cox and MetLife. He could be a very high priced consultant.

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