Where Has Customer Loyalty Gone?

Recently, I have noticed some unsettling trends in the products and businesses that I purchase as a consumer. I am just a number, a small buyer, a miniscule blip, barely on the radar of major businesses. It took me a while to realize that, but as a loyal customer of many companies, I was naïve enough to think that my continued business made me someone special in a companies’ eyes….I was way off!

A survey conducted by cobrapaydayloans.co.uk shows the true extent of this problem, this is by no means is this an all encompassing list, and maybe this is just me venting/being annoyed, but these are some big culprits that I have run in to lately.

Netflix

Much has been written about the company’s price restructuring, their splitting into separate entities and the immediate withdrawal of that plan along with an issued apology to customers. It took a huge outpouring of dissatisfaction and thousands of members canceling for that apology to happen.

I’ve been a loyal customer with Netflix since 2002, I contacted customer support, I griped, I told them how loyal I was…I received the same apology that the guy whose been a customer for two days got, and I still had to pay the price increase for a lesser service (no more “free” streaming).

What happened to the customer is always right, or at least the realization that without your loyal customers your business is going to struggle/fail?

AT T; Wireless

I’m a little late, but I just upgraded my first generation iPhone to the iPhone 4s. I’ve been a customer with AT T; since 2004, I’m an easy, loyal customer. I don’t call to bother them, and they collect my money every month. In fact I stayed with them even though I hadn’t been under contract for the past six years and could have switched providers with no penalty.

Prior to purchasing my new phone I investigated the new service contract I would have to sign and contacted customer support three different times to make sure that I was not missing any increase/change in rate plans. Well, after being assured that I could keep my original contract pricing, on three different occasions, I bought the phone and what happened? My monthly payment increased. Why? Since my previous contract didn’t exist anymore I could no longer use that pricing and despite the fact that I had been assured, on three different occasions, that my monthly costs would not change.

What recourse did I have? None, they won, I was already locked in for two years….unless I want to pay a ridiculous fee to get out of the contract.

Sounds like a giant bait and switch job to me and I’m counting down the days of my contract.

Comcast

This is probably the worst company I’ve ever done business with, and I’m currently paying more for my cable just so I don’t have to be their customer. Many of the places I have lived there was no other option for cable than Comcast, and believe me, they knew that. Their cable and internet services are decent, but not up to the standard that they should be for the price they’re charging. That isn’t the big concern though.

Their customer service or lack-thereof is absurd. I do not know how they are still in business with some of the ridiculous interactions I’ve had over the phone with some of these people. The most recent was when I was moving and cancelling my service last fall. I called, made sure my bill was paid and spoke to a “cancellation specialist” who assured me that my bill was paid in full and that I was all set. I received a bill the following month, I called again, I was assured that I was all set. The following month, two months after moving, I received another bill, this time for two months service and a late fee. The thing that I didn’t understand is that every time I spoke with someone they had record of receiving my cable equipment when it was returned. Common sense would have me believe that if a customer no longer has the equipment to utilize the service that I was providing than I probably shouldn’t be billing them for said service? Needless to say, I wasted about four hours of my life being on hold with customer service or an automated phone line, or being transferred back and forth to different departments within the Comcast Company and I will, if given a choice, never be a Comcast customer again.

The economy is bad and times are tight. As a consumer, like most, I want the best deal for my dollar. I want to be rewarded for continued loyalty. I want to be satisfied knowing that the company I’m spending money with appreciates my business and is not going to try to take advantage of my loyalty with small print policies and price increases for a diminished product. To me it just seems like no matter how smart you try to be with your money, investigating prices or providers, there is not a whole lot you can do if a company wants to take advantage of your loyalty.

I guess, like Bob Farrell says, I want the pickle.