Sometimes I wonder what other people are thinking. Or you can hear Jerry Seinfeld ranting “what were they thinking?” I learned early one that most things have an element of customer service. I work in IT and while there is a ton of technical details to consider, learn and execute, if you fail on the customer service aspect, you’ve failed completely. Pretty much everything you do, you are doing for someone. If they aren’t happy, you aren’t succeeding. I don’t know about you, but I want to succeed every time.
Of course I realize that many companies put rules in place to manage exactly that their employees can and can’t do which often can result in dissatisfied customers. This is especially true when the staff are not empowered to use common sense or have avenues to do the right thing. The corollary to everything is customer service is that it is far cheaper to retain a customer than it is to get a new one. In this case the cost to retain the customer was $35. I haven’t made up my mind, but as you will see by this on-line venting, I’m not happy.
Let’s rewind the film to last week. The hard drive on my satellite dvr/receiver died. There it was on the screen right before work. Error 311 I believe. No NFL AM, no Good Morning America, no Despierta America (ok, that’s a guilty pleasure of dancing and Honey the Chihuahua). I gathered my wits, went to work and called in the problem to DISHnetwork. Or @dish if you are on twitter.
Issue one, you can’t call in a problem unless you are in front of the TV. They need way too many numbers to do anything. Of course I got a call center where they wanted me to reboot the device several times. Of course I had done this 3 times per the instructions on the error message to no avail. It was dead as doornail. This also means no Daily Show or Colbert Report before bed. How would I get my Fox News? It made me wonder, why couldn’t the installer have noted which machine was in which room? Add two pieces of info and the need to specifically identify each device is rendered moot. Unless they don’t want to. Hey executives, use this idea for free!
So, here I was at work unable to get this party, I mean process, started. When I finally got home it was late but I called it in and yet another staffer wanted me to reboot. I satisfied his inner curiosity and showed him it didn’t work. As well as you can via the telephone. So it is Thursday night at 11pm and I finally have convinced someone to send me a device. It will cost me $15 in shipping. Ok.
But of course it will take 2-3 (meaning 3) business days to get to me. Yep, that means Tuesday, best case. So of course the device comes at 7:30 PM on Tuesday. Following the Giants win in World Series game 1, I got to installing the receiver at 10pm. I can do this.
My first clue something would go wrong was step 6 where the software checks to see if my connected phone line or Ethernet cable is working. I have had DISH for the better part of 20 years, I have never had a phone cable near where the receiver was. All that means is that I can’t order pay per view. Color me crushed. This is great user interface after it fails that step, it lets me know to try again. Why not ask me if one is connected? That’s not an option. So it tries again. That’s two times at two minutes each. Remember this. It will come back like that bad fish from that road house you wish you had avoided.
Then came step 7. This is the step where it tells you call in to active the receiver. I call. It knows I want to activate. So far so good. It doesn’t like the number I’ve punched in. I’m reading it off the TV screen. 3 time, no bueno. I push 0 and hope I get a decent agent. I do. She activates it. Then comes step 7a. 10-20 minutes to set up. Sigh.
So I say goodnight and watch the status bar move slower than traffic at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza at rush hour. At the 15 minute mark, the screen changes. That’s right it wants me to call in and activate the receiver, again. So I call again. This time there is not activation process, because the system believes it is activated. I get a nice enough young woman. Sally as I recall. She and I had plenty of time to get acquainted. We were stuck at the activation screen. She had me pull the smart card out and that’s when the fun really started.
Pulling the smart card is a hard reset. All sorts of moving parts moved and rumbled. It was loud. It was ugly. It went on for 15 minutes. And then there was the false ending. That’s right we were back at the test the phone segment of our show. FUCK ME. She suggested I skip this step. I suggested they put a path for e to skip this step. And we were stuck at the call and activate segment, again. She sent signals. I did a rain dance. I prayed to Cthulhu and the old ones. No dice. We pulled the smart card again, and waited 15 more minutes amid the rumbling.
And I’m back at the fucking phone test again. And the activation screen. When I’m about to give up and become a Hare Krishna Missionary, it activates. Of course that means the 20 minute download. No I’m not letting her off the phone till we are done. Did I tell you she’s from El Paso and didn’t watch The Bridge? I must have been the only one because she was surprised it was cancelled. She did like Breaking Bad, though. We bonded watching the status bar do its imitation of paint drying. I convinced Sally to give me credit on my account, because I had gone 6 days without being able to use that TV. $7 and change. Woo hoo!
At 23 minutes we discussed the lemon on my dresser and how to replace it. Then, like Renly’s Ghost on the Blackwater, the TV suddenly went on! Of course then we waited and bonded for 10 more minutes for the guide any my programming to download. I hope my mother likes Sally, we’ve become very close I decided to introduce Sally to the family, as Lambchop slumbered two feet away ignoring my bonding with the telephone agent. Finally, I had completed this hideous task. What should have taken 20 minutes at 9:45 had taken almost 2 hours. Sally and I parted, my boys would never call her mom.
At 11:45 or so I started watching the repeat of the repeat of the repeat of the World Series Post game. As the Panda sat down for his interview, the system did hard reset. That’s right. It was rumbling and shaking, again making god awful noises. I was too far into this to quit. I shut out the light and decided to sleep through it and everything would be good in the light of an October morning. I should have been thinking mourning.
The third time the system reset and woke me up, I turned off the power to the socket. Do you think DISH cares that their hell spawned equipment ruined 8 hours of my life? I don’t think so either. So first thing in the morning, well after a cup of coffee, I called again. The nice system told me that Sally wasn’t available. I wondered who the trollop was stepping out on me with.
It didn’t take long to convince the Sally surrogate to send me a new device. Being reasonable, I asked to have it expedited. I really didn’t want to wait another 3-4 days because they sent me a lemon. It would cost $35 dollars to expedite the 3rd receiver. I suggested as a longtime customer they should waive the fee. At this point she informs me that because of my less than $8 credit, the expedite fee could not be waived. I kindly suggested that she reinstate the $7.68 and waive the $35. She politely informed me she could not. I suggested she talk to her manager. He denied me too. There are rules you see.
Here’s where I got really pissed off. But first, some background. I pay DISH in excess of $125 a month. How much in excess is embarrassing so we’ll skip that. Let’s just say it has been at that level for about 6 years. This is the 3rd receiver I’ve had break in 10 years, and I always have 2. I’m not a high maintenance customer.
They let me know they would waive the $15 standard shipping. As well they should. It wasn’t my fault they sent a piece of shit box. And the kicker? I was informed if I had paid $8 per month for the protection package, they would have shipped the new receiver overnight FOR FREE! Let me get this straight, you’d save me $35 if I pay you $96 per year, for the last 4 or 5 years? I must not be as smart as they think I should be.
DISH is willing to risk a $1500+ per year customer over a $35 charge emanating from their product. It doesn’t make sense to me either. Perhaps the customer service VP at DISH is sleeping with the Parking Nazi. Nothing else really makes sense does it?