When I signed a 2-year digital TV contract last July with Rogers, it was following a long and painful price negotiation with their customer service department. Unhappy that they had increased their prices last summer, I argued to get it at the previous price. Plus additional discounts for invoicing screw-ups. Now, 9 months into the contract, this month’s invoice displayed a sudden hike in the amount due. Of course, I called them up immediately.
(Following several minutes of unbearable Muzak)
Me: Hi. The amount on my invoice is higher than usual, and I’d like to know why.
Rep: Yes. Rogers has increased the price of some of their programming packages, including the one you’re subscribed to.
Me: When I signed up, I agreed to a particular price. I’m not interested in, nor do I intend on, paying more.
Rep: Unfortunately, they’ve decided to increase the price. Rogers is constantly making improvements to the levels of service they offer their clients.
(Play along. Benefit of the doubt.)
Me: Okay. Can you tell me what these improvements are?
Rep: Well, um, Rogers is always bringing improvements to existing services, to better serve their clients.
Me: Yes, I got that part. Can you tell me how this will benefit me, specifically, in my day-to-day experience, when I watch TV?
Rep: Um, unfortunately I can’t really say… specifically…
Me: That’s what I thought. Once again, I was already paying more than I’d like for cable, and I have no intention of paying more. So please change my invoice to the price I used to pay.
Rep: Unfortunately, I can’t change the price of the packages.
Me: Sure you can. I’ve negotiated with you guys before to get better pricing.
Rep: Yes, I can see you have discounts on your invoice.
Me: Yes. So just adjust that so that I don’t pay more. You can call it a credit, or a discount, or whatever label you need to on your end, as long as I don’t see an increase. Look, it’s simple. I know I’m screwed to stay with you for the 2-year duration of the contract. But you have a choice: you can keep me at the increased price and know for a fact that you’re losing a client after the contract, or you can work with me and keep me as a client.
Rep: Okay, here’s what I can do. We have a promotion right now, on the package you currently have. It’s 20% off for 12 months. But your current discounts will no longer be valid.
Me: That’s OK, because the 20% off more than compensates for it. (Translation: in the end, I’m still paying less, which is what I wanted)
(Note: Always ALWAYS repeat what you THINK they’re saying, to make sure you’ve understood correctly.)
Me: So you’re telling me that for 12 months, as of today, I will keep the exact same package I currently have, and I will get it for $X less than I am currently paying.
Rep: That’s correct.
Me: Great, let’s do that.
– Never, ever accept a random change in service levels or price unless it’s in your favour.
– Never, ever accept their initial refusal or dismissal. Push back. I’ve never called anywhere without getting something in return, with varying degrees of success.
– I’m appalled that it would take a client threatening to leave before being offered a better deal. Shouldn’t the better deal be offered automatically, as a thank you for clients’ continued business? Oh wait. That would involve some notion of customer service.
– I’m still getting my package for less. Again.