Customer Service

Comcast Won’t Let You Go [UPDATED]

Warning: listening to this phone call may make you want to throw your Comcast modem through the front window of your local Comcast service center.

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This tracks pretty closely with my own experience. It took me over six months and multiple phone calls and transfer/disconnection requests to get Comcast to stop charging me for my business Internet connection after I moved out of my office.

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Over 70% of Companies Ignore Twitter Complaints

Okay, one last post on customer service by Twitter, and then I’m done. For today, at least. It turns out that while a conspicuous minority of companies are using Twitter to enhance the customer service experience, most remain completely clueless.

Why Customer Service by Twitter Isn’t Working

Despite all the talk about how social media can improve customer service, it really hasn’t. Frank Eliason, the awesome personality behind Comcast’s legendary Twitter presence, @comcastcares, explains why. (Hat tip to Consumerist!)

Twitter Doesn’t Always Get You Better Customer Service

Stories about companies that respond with amazing customer service when you gripe on Twitter have become the stuff of legend, but not all companies are on board. Lawyer and blogger Scott Greenfield, for example, has been complaining about his brand-new broken Kitchen Aid refrigerator for a couple of days, now, and all he’s gotten for a response is a pitiful “we’re looking into this matter.” I’ve tried expressing my frustration with a set of broken Kindles to Amazon’s Twitter account, but haven’t gotten a response at all. Those are just a couple of examples I happen to know of, but I’m sure there are plenty more.
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Big Banks May Be Doomed

Big banks “routinely treat their customers like shit, offer terrible services, and use inscrutable fee schedules to make billions of dollars per year from worthless fees alone,” according to Ramit Sethi. He’s right, of course. And big banks are gearing up new fees to make it impossible to bank without piling up absurd fees.

Fortunately, there are alternatives. Many online banks offer fair terms, convenient access, and great value. And they are getting popular. Twenty-two percent of bank customers under 30 use an online bank as their primary bank. Of those currently using a big bank, over 35% would not choose it again.

I don’t use an online bank as my primary bank. Yet. But the reasons people prefer them are pretty compelling. Free ATMs anywhere. Deposit checks using a scanner instead of making time to get to a branch. Better online interfaces. Better interest rates. And on and on.

When you subtract the culture of ripping off consumers and the overhead of brick-and-mortar branches, banking can apparently be a pleasant experience.

Bank fees, hitting you when you are down

As the government moves to issuing debit cards rather than actual checks in an attempt to save money, banks are adding every conceivable fee to get some of those benefits. Even fees just to get the money. Ever see a free ATM? Call customer service, that’ll be 50 cents. How about overdraft fees of up to $20—even though they could just decline charges for more than what is on the card.

Jobless hit with bank fees on benefits | The Herald News

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Does July of 2010 seem a long way off to anyone else? (AFFIL Week)

On December 18, the Federal Reserve Board released new regulations for credit card issuers.  The substance of the regulations is great – in some ways it’s even stronger than what was proposed (more on this below).  But the ridiculous problem with the Fed’s announcement is that, for some reason, the rules won’t go into effect until July 1, 2010.  That’s eighteen months from when the regs came out in December.

Eighteen months is a long time!  In eighteen months people can get into and out of all sorts of shenanigans, financial, and otherwise.  And given the direction the economy is heading, doesn’t it seem like now would be a better moment to enact these long-overdue consumer protections, and keep more money in consumers’ hands?

Of course, banks do need some amount of time to conform their procedures to the new rules.  But this really shouldn’t take longer than three months.  After all, the industry is miraculously efficient when adopting new procedures that they stand to profit from.  Why on earth do they need eighteen months in this case?

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Green Mountain Coffee apparently unaware people use “computers” to buy things on “the internet”

With the best intentions, knowing I love coffee and tea, my mom sent me a $50 gift certificate for Green Mountain Coffee last September. I have not used it yet because I could not figure out how.

I finally called Green Mountain Coffee’s customer service (fair points for having real live people answering the phone), and they said I could only redeem the gift certificate over the phone.

Tip for businesses: if you issue gift certificates and you sell things online, make sure those two things work together. The last time I did mail order was 1985, and I think I ordered a whoopie cushion and X-ray specs from the back of a comic book.

Sears upsells plasma television “recharging” service (Hint: no such thing)

Imaginary products have infinite margins: a sure way out of the recession. Sears upsells plasma television “recharging” service (Hint: no such thing) | BoingBoing Gadgets

It’s a wonderful mortgage crisis

Newsweek analyzes the mortgage crisis though the lens of my favorite holiday movie.  For those who don’t know the story, Frank Capra’s masterpiece is a film about overcoming greed through the power of friendship (with a little help from spirituality), family and love.

I wish I had a million dollars – hot dog!

It’s A Wonderful Mortgage Crisis | Newsweek