Well maybe it is rocket science. I recently closed an account with a cable company and their actions were, well, out of this galaxy. Here’s the letter I wrote, changing the name of the “innocent”:
Dear Friends at Phase-Peacener:
Call off the hounds please. Your $51.04 is safe, in fact, here it is.
Now that you’ve lost me as a customer forever, let me tell enlighten you as to what transpired in regards to closing my account at a rental property I own.
Sent a check for $92.24 on 10/24/11. That appeared to be the final invoice, since my account was closed; however, I received another bill for $51.04.
So I called around the end of November; sorry, don’t know the date. Was on the phone quite a while; the gent I spoke with was very friendly and helpful. Apparently, my check, #2646, never made it to you. He verified that, and while on the phone with him, I went into my bank account online and checked. It was never cashed.
Your rep explained that I was credited back $41.20 at some point, so my new total was $51.04. We both agreed that it would make sense to wait a bit longer to see if my check from 10/24 would arrive. If it did indeed wind up being cashed, then a refund would be sent for $41.20. Makes sense, no?
Sending another check right away would just increase the amount owed back. I really didn’t want to hand over more money to Time Warner Cable when I already was AHEAD. Apparently, the rep never made any notes in my account about the SNAFU.
Now I receive a bill from a collection agency. SERIOUSLY? Did you think I ran off to Brazil with less than $100? That amount wouldn’t even get me on the plane, let alone pay for a snack and my luggage fees. Do you really think that I wouldn’t pay? I’ve paid without fail, for years!
It’s amazing how quickly an account that “owes” a handful of change gets turned over to a collection agency. After the fees you’ll be paying them, perhaps $20 is what you’ll get? And with all that paperwork just to turn over the account to them, it’s likely you’re out more than $51.04.
In summary, your lack of customer care cost you:
• A few dollars
• Time wastefully spent for an employee or two.
• The possibility that I will share this event with others.
• Loss of my ever using your services in the future. So please stop sending junk mail to me.
Clearly, no one assessed the situation; the account was automatically set out for collection. That was a big mistake. As noted, someone who never missed a payment probably isn’t going to abscond with the money. The rep made an error by not making a note in the account as to why it was outstanding. A simple program or even a human (imagine THAT?) could have touched the account prior to sending it to a collection agency. Their process appears to missing a few steps; not hard to include a few.
But what are the consequences? Loss of one account. Eh. DO note I stated “the possibility that I will share this with others.” The internet enables my blog post to travel. Quickly. It could result in some more accounts lost, as those who are contemplating a change decide to get a dish. The viral spreading of these words turns my $51.04 “issue” into a global event. That’s a far cry from chatter at the local coffee clutch in days of yore.
The power of Social Media makes customer satisfaction critical to any business. Beep beep.