Customer Disservice at Post-Christmas

How a consumerist battles “abuse cluster”

When consumers need but cannot reach the customer service promised to them, it’s probably because promising a service helps to make sales but providing that service reduces profits from those sales.

Which brings us to the sixth abuse: Customer Disservice. It peaks every January when Christmas gifts need service, exchanges or returns. A large percentage of service requests begin with one of the other five abuses: corporate deception, rush to market, defect toleration, quality fade or fulfillment failure. Hold on to that idea for a moment.

Now let’s imagine calling a customer service toll-free number that opens with the dreaded “due to heavy call volume…” sometimes followed by a busy signal. Or suggests ending the call and going to a website not updated to deal with existing-right-now problems, but offers lots of Frequently Asked Questions, all apparently written by freelance fiction writers.

And if your call is routed to a distant telemarketing center—measured by how little they cost corporations rather than how well they serve consumers—you are knee deep in what I call “abuse cluster”* in a Customer Disservice operation.

Forget the excuses for not easily reaching or getting the level of service promised. It’s all bound up in corporate controls of the costs of providing the services they promised. It’s a “bottom-line” corporate decision best met by a consumerist “bottom-line” demand for payment for the time wasted or unhelpful answers offered.

Consumerist Takeaway: Comcast springs to mind: Comcast service was steadily busy when part its network “lost” the last 3 innings of the 2014 final World Series game. My complaint was answered with an offer of a $20 credit that went to $40 when I said, “Only $20 for the World Series?” This week Comcast temporarily “lost” the 6th episode of The Affair from ShowTime. Its outsourced service people offered wrong solutions. Finally Comcast agreed to cancel the charges for the annual cost of ShowTime as comp (about $120).

*Abuse Cluster. A situation with multiple abuses….Source: Corp-Speak Glossary, in the 2nd Edition of my book, The Consumerist Manifesto Handbook, page 180.









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