June 15, 2014

It's so hard to say goodbye, usually

I really appreciate it when I fire a business, and the business lets me go easily. You know how it is sometimes when you call to cancel a service or a subscription. I don't like it all when a company begs and pleads for me to stay when my mind is already made up.

That's why I was quite surprised last week when I switched to a new alarm monitoring company and called ADT to cancel my existing service. On the phone I was ready to invoke my three strikes rule (more on that later) if the ADT guy put the hard sell on me to try to beg me to stay. But that's not what happened at all. The conversation went something like this:

ADAM: Hi, I'd like to cancel my service.

ADT GUY: Okay, I can help you with that. Are you moving?

ADAM: No, I've switched to a different monitoring company.

ADT GUY: I'm sorry that we're losing you as a customer and hopefully we can serve you again in the future. But I can cancel your account for you. I'll just need to pull up your account information here.

ADAM: Great, thanks.

ADT GUY: Has your new service already started?

ADAM: Yes.

ADT GUY: Okay. You are not under contract, so there's no cancellation fee. Normally we do require 30 days' notice to cancel, but I'll waive that for you and cancel you effective today. There's no reason to charge you for another 30 days if you're already being monitored by another company.

ADAM: Thanks.

ADT GUY: Alright, your account is now closed. Since we bill in advance you've already paid for next month, so you'll get that amount credited back. I have one additional question and this is optional. May I indicate on your account who your new provider is and why you switched?

I gave him a brief, friendly answer and made it clear that I wan't unhappy with my ADT service; I just found better equipment and a better price with someone else. He mentioned one more time that ADT was sorry to lose me, but he did not do any groveling, and I'm grateful for that. I even thanked him for making the cancellation process so quick.

Contrast that to what happened last year when I called Dish Network to give my satellite service the old heave-ho:

ADAM: Hi, I'd like to cancel my service.

DISH GUY: We definitely wouldn't want that to happen. Let me take a look at your account and see what we can do to keep you. [Strike one!]

ADAM: No, thanks. I'd like to cancel.

DISH GUY: Well, we have other service plans, so I'm sure we can find something you'll like. [Strike two!]

ADAM: No, just cancel my account please.

DISH GUY: First let me explain some of our other options. [Strike three!]

That was it. Time to invoke my three strikes rule. I maintained a friendly tone (there's no reason to get angry or raise your voice in this situation) but changed my strategy:

Three strikes and you're out (Courtesy: examiner.com)

ADAM: I've asked politely to cancel three times but it doesn't sound like you're able to help me. May I please speak with a supervisor?

DISH GUY: Okay, I'll go ahead and cancel the account for you.

After that the process was quick and easy.

One situation where I rarely have to invoke the three strikes rule is while shopping in person somewhere. If you are a cashier in a store, and I've been waiting in line to check out, I really don't want to be asked repeatedly if I'd like to open a charge account with your store or join your points or rewards club. Once I say, "No, thanks," it's time to move on.

I can't blame a for-profit business for trying to retain customers. But I don't want a company to beg at my feet like a hungry dog.



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