Rogers: boob behind the tube


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.

(Pause.)

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.

But clearly isn't.

But clearly isn't.

In conclusion:

–  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.

Walk a mile in these shoes


I’d like to know who designs flip-flops? Cause I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

It’s almost June. We’ve wallowed all week in hot, sunny weather. Women all over have been kicking off their shoes, peeling off their socks, and painting their toe nails in anticipation of wearing pretty sandals and cute flip-flops.

I was out shopping for a pair of flip-flops. Although I love sandals, walking around excessively with a new pair will only yield blisters, regardless of how much you spend. Since I’ve never been a fan of wearing sandals with either blood or band-aids, my solution is wearing flip-flops to and from work, and changing into sandals at the office.

After shopping, I came to two conclusions:

1. most flip-flops for women look obscenely cheap (even for flip-flops)

2. most flip-flops feel worse than they look

Usually, the sole is absolutely flat. It offers no comfort whatsoever, which is surprising for footwear basically made of compressed foam or rubber. The top is usually made up of cheap, stiff, too-often bedazzled man-made material, assembled by a small underfed child in China. Whoever designs these shoes hates women. Even the Airwalk and Nike varieties are designed as a form of punishment for feet.

I’ve found the men’s flip-flops to be marginally better. From Airwalk to American Eagle, the sole is thicker (although still hard) and the strap on top is often made of a cotton weave or leather strap. But I still wouldn’t wear them daily, even less if there’s a $30 price tag attached to them. $30. For flip-flops.

I used to laugh at people who would pay an outrageous $40-$50 for a pair of Crocs. What a gimmick! I’m sorry. You’re not going to sucker me into buying Crocs, no matter how big that crocodile smiles. First, they are nearly $50. Second, I’m not 12 years old.

Crocs clog

Crocs clog

Until the day I actually tried a pair of Crocs flip-flops. My feet discovered the soft, comfortable, lightweight, superior-gripping, non-marking and odor-resistant caress of Crocs’ proprietary closed-cell resin. The sole acts as a cushion, absorbing shock as you walk; and – can it be – arch support from a flip-flop! It’s the way walking was meant to be.

I happily dished out the $45. Because in the end, I’d rather pay a little more for a superior product. I still hold that the original Crocs clogs are best suited for children and tweens (and yes, both my daughters wear them), but I was happy to see the gift of comfort being extended to many other footwear styles, from sandals to high heel shoes.

More Crocs styles

More Crocs styles

On behalf of sore and tired feet everywhere, I declare Crocs the undefeated casual footwear hero.

Stop and smell the espresso, part deux


Come to Momma!

This morning, UPS delivered a relatively large parcel to our home. Finally – after two years of dutifully accumulating Air Miles, and thanks to SuperJan’s commendable customer service, we are now the proud owners of the highly anticipated, the one and only, this-is-what-espresso-should-be-like Jura Ena 5 espresso maker!

See how right and cozy the machine looks on our kitchen counter?

Our new Jura Ena 5

Our new Jura Ena 5

The other coffee accessories took to it right away: the espresso spoons hanging from their magnetic plate smile down warmly upon it; the chocolate dust anxiously awaits to be sprinkled ever so deliciously upon each cappuccino’s steamed milk; and the Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger espresso coffee (certified organic & fair trade), which by the way is the best damn coffee I’ve tasted so far and worth every penny, happily sacrifices itself in its duty to help create a fine cup of coffee.

Excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye.

So before signing off for a little over a week, I’d like to thank SuperJan and Air Miles once more – not only for the Jura Ena 5, but for giving me hope that exemplary customer service from major corporations may not be as endangered a species as I thought.

Stop and smell the espresso


I don’t give out my loyalty to a brand or company easily. In fact, I have pretty high standards when it comes to customer service, whether that be from a restaurant, a telephone company, a cable company or a department store. Some, including my husband, think my expectations can be somewhat unrealistic. I disagree entirely. Of course, my husband won’t even return a burger if it’s not what he ordered.

Here’s my reasoning: we all work hard for our half of the salary that we’re allowed to take home. So when you purchase any product or service and you don’t get what you’re entitled to, I think it’s not only acceptable, but necessary to do something about it.

I’m the first to admit I’m a customer service whore. I’ll jump on the first company that will offer me a better deal. See? No loyalty. The reasoning is simple: I’m tired of dealing with the same big companies over and over again, who think we’ll just keep bending over and taking the crap they dish out. Anyone else tired of hearing “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do”?

Not to name names, but you know who you are, Bell / Videotron / Rogers et al.

Bell called me a while back, asking to get my business back. My venomous hatred for Bell made me want to vomit into the phone, but I managed to nicely ask the man what he had to offer. He said they had great new deals on long distance plans. First, the plan’s price was the same one I currently pay with Primus. Second, they couldn’t match Primus’s offering. When I explained this, he actually tried to convince me I didn’t need more than he was offering. So much for price and product – let’s try service. I asked if they had expanded their customer service hours, which in the past were barely more than regular business hours. He confirmed their hours hadn’t changed. So I recapped: you’re offering me less for the same price, and your service hasn’t changed. I’ll stick to Primus. This way, I have the added bonus of not having to deal with Bell.

I’ve got loads of examples, ranging from multiple invoice screw-ups and duplicate charges, all the way to flat-out lying about showing up for service calls. For the record, that was Bell too. And when I called and received the expected “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do”, I kindly thanked her for convincing me to switch to Star Choice. Like I said, customer service whore.

In the midst of these giant corporations who make profits at our expense, I found a rare pearl.

Chris and I have been saving up air miles for the past few years, with a very specific goal in mind: the Jura “Ena 5” espresso maker. Behold the beauty of the Ena 5. A $1400 machine brought to you free of charge by the magic of Air Miles. For nearly two years, we’ve been checking the Air Miles web site, making sure it’s still available, and that the number of points required hadn’t changed.

 Jura Ena 5 uber-awesome espresso maker

Jura Ena 5 uber-awesome espresso maker

Until last week. We were 60 points away from the 12,000 points required, and could almost taste the cappuccino, when suddenly it was nowhere to be found. They had heartlessly removed it from the list of products they carry, just when it was almost within reach.

Despite a foreboding sense of doom, we dialed the customer service number. We explained our situation to the rep, who transferred us to a supervisor, to whom we had to tell the story again. I was less than optimistic. Jan the supervisor A.K.A. SuperJan, was sympathetic about how long we’d been waiting for the item. According to his initial checks, there were a couple of machines left in their warehouse, but he didn’t know if they had already been shipped away. For two days, SuperJan made calls to the warehouse trying to locate one, re-entered the item on the web site and gave us the missing 60 air miles in good faith, to facilitate the transaction.

SuperJan could’ve chosen to be just plain Jan, claiming “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.” At the end of the day, he’d still go home and earn his pay. But instead he went out of his way to resolve a problem for a customer, and all he got out of it was a heartfelt thank you. That, my fellow consumers, is excellence in customer service – the only thing that can in fact breed loyalty.

We’ll keep you posted on whether he was successful in locating our uber-awesome, this-is-what-espresso-should-be-like espresso maker.