Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Caveat Emptor, Baby!

Those of you who've seen my rant about General Motors, last year, know that I have very little sympathy for companies that make mediocre products and then complain about losing money. Well, lately I've been compelled to take that a step further, and complain about companies that treat their customers badly, especially in this day and age. So let's all bend over, and begin...

As you might know, Bell Canada has been getting some heat lately, over the voice mail of their customers being hacked and the owners being stuck with long-distance bills of at least tens of thousands of dollars. You may also remember that Bell knows for a fact that its legitimate customers cannot possibly be making these calls, yet insists that they must be the ones to pay these bills they cannot afford.

Now, this outraged me so much, that for the last few weeks I've been trying over and over again to contact someone at Bell, to try to explain themselves. I'm particularly interested in their answer, given that what they're doing is possibly a crime in this country. Well, first they make an excuse about confidentiality in relation to other customers' lines -- fine, but I didn't ask about that. Then, they assured me that no charges will be added to my bill -- I fucking well hope not, considering that I stated over and over again that I haven't had this happen to me! For some reason, no longer how many times I explained to this person what was going on, they thought that I was complaining about something I'd experienced, but that wasn't the point I was making at all! As of this recording, they claim my concern has been passed on to a supervisor, but haven't heard anything since. I will, however, be pressing them on this.

My family recently had an experience with KitchenAid that wasn't much better. We needed to have our dishwasher fixed, a job that the mechanic said would only take a couple of days, while he ordered a part. We waited about a week and a half, mainly because he couldn't be bothered to make one phone call. When we tried to ask about that, all we got was the general apologies that we were upset, and assurances that if we tried to cancel the job and go elsewhere, not only would we still have to get the parts through KitchenAid anyway, but we would be billed for services that we didn't receive. I have no respect for people like this: either grow a mind of your own, to help the people paying your salary, or don't even bother being there.

While I'm at it, let me just say that I'm glad that TicketMaster is getting pressured into cleaning up its outrageous ways of gouging its customers. I don't know what loopholes they found to get around the find that scalping is against the law in most places, but it's great that enough people are standing up to them that they're being shamed into backing down.

On the bright side, though, I had to deal with Sony's customer service last week, and they were the exact opposite of this. I had a slight problem with my sound recorder, and they got back to me with the right answer, in just a few hours of my sending them the first e-mail. Thank you, Sony.

The way I see it, companies these days, will have to live and die as much on merit, as supply and demand. When people only have so much money to spend, I'd imagine that the smart ones will be a little more picky on where they spend it. If your company insists on shafting your customers, then you can not only expect them to not come back, but to warn their friends not to bother with you either, and so on and so forth. In these tough times, is that really a risk you can afford to take? That's it for me.

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