Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Commerce in Action

Our niece sent me an e-mail. It sounded so similar to a recent experience I had with our cell phone company that I couldn't resist reporting it here.

Our cable modem went out. I did all the reset, unplugging, restart. Desperate, I called Quest. They told me to do the same thing - unplug, reset, etc. Two hours later, they concluded that a new modem was required. It would cost $50. After all, the modem is old - two years have now passed since it began life. It is terminal. In cable modem years, it's, like 87 years old.
I suggested, perhaps too testily, that they were charging me $50 to get me to continue with their service -- "Uhh yes, that's correct" replied the service person. "And, oh by the way, your warranty has expired”.

Finally, reluctantly, I agreed – “OK, let’s do it.”

The service person says they will overnight one to me. He connects me to a sales person. The sales person says it will require two to three days, and yes, it will cost $50.

“But, but . . . the service person told me you would send it to me overnight."

"Well, he was wrong."

"So, because your modem box is a piece of crap that only lasted two years, I will now have to go two to three days without the Internet, and you will still charge me $50. Meanwhile, I will continue to pay you for the service you are not delivering.”

"Everyone does business this way," replies the sales person.

"Perhaps you believe that is comforting. It still doesn’t make it right.”

"But this is the way it’s done."
Then the sales person tells me that, if I can’t wait, I can go to a mall nearby and buy a new modem.

“Fine. I will go to Maplewood Mall”.
I bring the old modem to be sure I get this right. The sales clerk hands me the new modem and rings up the charge – “Let’s see, $99.00 plus tax.”
“Excuse me? I was quoted a charge of $50 for the new modem.”
"Oh?" he says.
"Yes," says I.”$50 . . . not $99”.
“OK”, he says. He re-enters the sale. It’s now $50.
"Well, it retails for $99 but we give our customers a break."

“Uhuh . . . a break. Interesting concept that.”

I take it home. I plug it in. “Hey, it actually works.” It’s lighter, cheaper, more plastic.
“Wonder how long this piece of crap will last? Could it be that they design it to fail quickly?”

“Oh, they wouldn’t do that, would they?? On purpose?”

“Nah . . . this is the corporate world. They don’t purposely screw their customers. Do they?”

“Or do they?”
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