Cash Money Yo! [Stay-at-Home Nerd]
Part of being a stay-at-home parent is answering the phone and the doorbell when it rings. It’s very hard (some say impossible) to do those things from an office somewhere, but as someone who is fortunate enough to “work” from home, I’m here when the carpet guys, and the painters, and the delivery guys show up. I’m also here when DirecTV calls me to tell me I’m late with a bill or AT&T calls to “upgrade” my service.
I’m not sure how people with 2 out of the house jobs actually handle this. Do you burn a vacation day to wait from noon ‘til 4:00 PM for the cable to be installed? Do you take a half-day, that invariably turns into a full day, when the plumber runs late to fix a defective dishwasher? With the United States being well behind the rest of the world in average paid vacation days (13 days per year as opposed to 42 in Italy, 37 in France, 35 in Germany, and 25 in Japan) I find it hard to imagine that anyone would willingly want to sacrifice his or her precious free time with such mundane life maintenance.
If you’re going to make the sacrifice, though, then at least let me provide you with my 4 part proven method to get the customer service you deserve. It’s simple, really.
- PLAY DUMB
- PLAY NICE
- BE SMART
- BE AN ASSHOLE
Why is it this way? Because there’s no turning back. Once you’re the smart guy with everything figured out it doesn’t really matter how nice you are. You’ve made your case and you will win or lose your battle with it. You could get angry if things don’t go your way, but you haven’t built any empathy with the customer service representative. You stated what you wanted and why you think you deserved it. If they agree, you’ll get it. If they don’t… you’re S.O.L.
The worst way to go is to start angry. No one wants to help someone that is yelling at them no matter how “right” they are. Don’t believe me? Next time you go to a restaurant tell the waiter to “Fuck Off” when he asks you how you are today and see what kind of service you get.
Play Dumb is not the same as be Dumb. Since you’re reading this blogumn and are a reader of this blog I assume that you’re smart, and sexy, and fierce and nerdy. You’ve done your homework. You know what you should be paying. You’ve researched the comparables. This doesn’t matter if it’s a house, a watch, a return, refund, or exchange, or simply an upgrade or downgrade in a service contract.
The reason you start by playing dumb is that people are eager to help dumb people. Ask a stranger for directions and they will take time out of their day to show you the way. Tell a stranger they are going the wrong way and they will flip you off with nary a howdy do.
Use some of these “dumb” questions/phrases to get you started:
I don’t understand.
Is it possible?
I thought this was supposed to be…
Could you please explain that to me?
At this point you should be armed with whatever missing information, if any, you need. An “I thought this was supposed to be free…” can often be answered with – “Well, that was the introductory offer.” I would follow that with – “Is it possible to still get the introductory offer?” That answer is usually no.
So then be nice. “If I can’t get the introductory offer then I’m sorry I’m not going to be able to keep that service.” This will usually result in a sales pitch to the tune of “Don’t you like being able to download at this rate, watching this many stations, making this many texts, or the like.” Keep thanking them for their service and keep telling them kindly why you won’t be able to use it. If they don’t cave here, then flip the switch.
Be smart. Ask to speak to a supervisor. They don’t want to transfer you, you’ve upped the stakes and they will take you seriously. Tell them why they should give you what you were previously asking for. For instance, are you a long-standing customer? Or, are you a new customer? Whichever it is, use it. “As a fill-in-the blank customer I really think I should be getting this service for this price.” Because you’re smart and you’ve done your homework this final push should be enough to get you the best price on whatever you’re trying to get.
If it isn’t, get mad. Now I don’t mean get mad in the slam the phone against the wall or grab the customer service rep by the shirt kind of way. I mean quitting. You simply tell them that you’re done. Assuming you haven’t signed some horrific contract you should be able to cancel your phone, internet, cable, and the like without any problem.
Doing this will immediately garner you a transfer to a customer retention specialist. In my case this person, unlike the other customer service reps I talked with, was empowered with the ability to slash my bills. Recently, DirecTV gave me 4 separate credits totaling almost $70, which brought my outrageous cable bill to around $50 for the month. AT&T upped my bandwidth, lowered my bill almost in half, and shipped me a new, free, router.
I’ve also lowered wireless plans, consolidated loans, received free transfers on airlines and upgraded hotel rooms. It might not always be worth the phone time to save the money on these items, but as a stay-at-home parent it feels like you’re contributing financially, even when all you do is keep more money from flying out the door.
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featured image credit: RW Photo Bug