How to Fail in Business without Even Trying

After eight and one half years, I am severing ties with an old friend.

It is never an easy thing to say goodbye to someone who has been with you since you moved halfway around the world and decided to make a go of it away from friends and family with a new life. They have been with me for a long time, helping to connect me with people and places out here, showing my things I never knew existed. I would not be where I am today if it was not for their support and encouragement to broaden my horizons and try new things. They were with me through some tough times in my life, some serious lows and during my current wave of highs. Most of the time it was just the two of us. Through good or bad, there was nobody else I could rely on more.

In their defense, I am the one who has changed over the course of the eight plus years. I have done the things that they encouraged me to do. I’ve expanded my horizons, travelled the world, and seen things I never knew were out there. They, on the other hand, haven’t left the area. They want things to stay the same, never improving upon themselves. They have made a lot of money off of me over the years, so I guess they do not need to better themselves too much. They think they should be making more money for the same amount of work they have always done. I do not see how that is fair, but when it comes to money, we have never seen eye-to-eye.

Do not get hung up on company policy.

A few months ago I said “aloha” to Oceanic Time Warner and their internet service, and I said “aloha” to Hawaiian Telecom and their internet service.

Since we bought a home, we had to get everything moved over to the new address, electric, water, trash, etc. All went very smoothly, until I called Oceanic Time Warner here on Maui. Being a customer since day one at my former address of almost nine years, I never would have imagined there would be any issues. I figured it would be as simple as, give my new address and start service date, tell them when to stop service at the old address, easy peasy lemon squeezy (things always tend to be so much simpler in my mind, which explains why I do not speak too much to people I do not know).

The first sign of resistance I ran into was the fact that because I only wanted internet service, they couldn’t just flip a switch and turn it on. Well, technically they could, but that would also turn on the cable television, which I was not going to pay for. In order to prevent me from getting free cable, someone would have to physically come to the house and put a blocking device on the cable wires to keep me from receiving cable. Since I have never had television service from them in the previous eight years, I did not see this as an issue that even needed to be mentioned.

The second issue I ran into with Oceanic was my start service date. I had requested Friday, October 3rd, also known as a week away, at the time. This was not going to be possible, so the man on the phone told me Tuesday, the 7th would be my first option. Since I had to work all day on Tuesday, I asked if I could schedule a very specific time for the technician to come out, but the cable company works on an entirely different level from the rest of the world and will only give you an eight-hour window in which their field technician may, or may not, show up at your doorstep.

I suggested that they flip the switch on the 3rd, get my internet working and then send the technician out at a later date to block the free cable. I recommended that he review my long history with Time Warner and he would see that I do not have, nor have ever had cable television in the eight plus years I paid for their services. This was not a valid resolution for him.  He would not even consider allowing me four days of free cable television.

Since the customer service representative ruled out my first solution. I then suggested I could sign up for cable television and internet on the 3rd of October, then I would call back and cancel the cable television on the 4th, at which point they would send somebody out immediately to block it from entering our home. Again, this solution was incomprehensible to the customer service agent.

Running out of patience and suggestions, I was placed on hold one too many times, so I began searching the internet for other internet service providers on Maui. I looked at a few sites and told the Oceanic representative I would have to call them back after I called Hawaiian Telecom. This did not shake the man at all, he continued to talk about finding a solution and continued to place me on hold. Finally, when he came back on the line, I told him I had to go, thirty minutes of my life were gone and I was never going to get them back.

Let’s do the math. After almost nine years of being a loyal customer, Oceanic Time Warner charged me $54.99 for standard internet plus an additional $5.99 to lease their modem (plus taxes). In having my service transferred to a new address, they were going to charge me a $19.95 connection fee, but the customer service representative said it would only be $9.95 because I just wanted internet (see they are already trying to pretend to save me money).

Hawaiian Telecom currently charges me $19.95 (plus tax) a month for the first year for standard internet service, no modem rental charge, and no startup or installation fee (they provided a wireless modem/router with their service). What happens after that first year you might ask? Well, the customer service representative suggested I then upgrade to the next level internet service at $24.95 (plus tax) per month for the second year. After the two years, I will eventually have to pay full price, which will be slightly over $50 a month (the price I was paying Oceanic Time Warner originally). Thanks to her suggestion I can postpone that higher bill for two years, possibly longer if they offer more promotions or specials.

The biggest difference between the two internet/cable/phone companies was the way their customer service representatives approached my situation. With Oceanic Time Warner, I had a gentleman who did not offer solutions, steadily placed me on hold, and refused to entertain any of my solutions to the challenges placed before him. On the other hand, Hawaiian Telecom’s representative went out of her way to offer ideas and ways to receive their great service, all while saving me the most money.

If Oceanic Time Warner Cable had simply listened to a long-time customer and offered solutions instead of excuses, I probably never would have left them for their competition. To add insult to injury, I found their rival company using their internet while I was continuously placed on hold by their representative (but I was assured by the recording that my call was important to them, so that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside).

We have had uninterrupted service with Hawaiian Telecom since the beginning of October and could not be happier with the monthly bill I receive in the mail. Less than $25 for secure, high-speed wifi throughout the entire house.

Now, I’m all for companies making money, but in the process of making money hand over fist, how about rewarding loyal customers? How about evaluating each customer service challenge individually, rather than hiding behind policy that was written by bean counters and lawyers. Try treating customers like human beings and not golden geese that are there for the plucking.

Vincent Lorusso Written by:

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. - Jackie Robinson

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