Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Customer Service

A few weeks back I needed to download a full copy of Real Player so I could edit some audio files for my thesis defense. Unfortunately, they make you give them you credit card information to get the 14-day free trail. You the know - the one you have to cancel before day 14 to keep them from charging you $15 a month for the program. Fine - I needed the software and this was the easiest way to get it on short notice. So, I signed up, got the software, did my audio editing and all was happy with the world.

Until today.

When I went to cancel it so I wouldn't get charged.

Despite what it looks like on their site, Real Player will not let you cancel online. Oh no, you have to call them up to do it. Fuck it, fine. I call them and get placed on hold (of course!). Now, normally, I can deal with being placed on ignore (what I call "hold"), but the "music" they had playing made me want to shove an ice-pick through my ear-drum! We're talking worse than elevator music. After about two minutes of this, I get transferred to someone. Two problems. One, he is very obviously from India or Bangladesh or some other country in that part of the world. This makes it a little hard to understand what he's saying because he has a very thick accent. Now, I had a roommate who was from Bangladesh, so I have some experience deciphering accents from that part of the world. Even so, holy fuck! I could barely understand him! Second problem, he was obviously in a very large room filled with people who were also talking with Indian/Bangladeshi accents. So we have a heavy accent and a lot of back ground noise. Great. Just fucking great.

Now, with that context in mind, here's pretty much how the call went. When I tell him I want to cancel this subscription, we have to go through the whole "verifying ID" crap. You try spelling out "roguehistorian" (which, of course, with the logon name I had used for registering to get the software in the first place) to someone who does not speak or understand English very well. Once we have established that I am, in fact, me, he asks me to explain why I want to cancel (corporate research and all that). I tell him I no longer need the program and don't feel like spending $15 a month for something I am not going to use. So, of course, he offers me a free month. No. I just want you to cancel the account and leave me the fuck alone! (OK, so I didn't say the second half of that sentence, but I sure thought it!) On the plus side, I did just receive the email which confirms they have cancelled the account, so hopefully I won't get charged for it in a few days.

I understand the idea of outsourcing low-level jobs to cut costs and (theoretically) save customers money. But when you hire people who just end up pissing off customers . . . Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a bad business practice.

I have mentioned in other posts that I am a fan of Foamy, the neurotic squirrel. There is an episode on exactly this sort of experience. Check out Tech Support at Friends of Foamy and you'll see how I felt after this whole damn thing.

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