6-9-08 – Edited – and I don’t know how two copies of this post were published. I’m thinking it’s an extension in Firefox that copies text; it may have auto-filled a blank update screen, making me think I was editing an already-published post.
I got an incredible email tip today from a former AOL CSR pointing me to this post on The Red Tape Chronicles at MSNBC. It seems the reason you can’t cancel your AOL account is ‘perverse incentives’ that reps get to keep you from leaving. Not only was the post on the mark, it also inspired one former AOL service rep to reveal how Time Warner, AOL and DISH Network each employ the same sleazy tactics to keep you from canceling. Cookie-cutter customer service Catch-22s up ahead courtesy of ServiceRep$517….(comments on the post aren’t designed to link so I screencapped it).
“We lie, cheat and steal – or lose $300 per customer!”
I have been a customer service rep for 4 years. I have worked for Time Warner, AOL and DISH network. All of them worked the same way. We were TOLD at orientation to lie, cheat and steal. Do “whatever you have to do” to keep getting money from the customer. If they ask to cancel the service, lie to them. They flat out told us to lie. Right to our faces. Lie. For every customer that we tricked into upgrading vs. cancelling was worth $300 in bonus.
“Get six months service FREE – free for me, that is!”
Service reps in my department had contests to see who could make the biggest bonues. I have personally told customers that I would give them free service for 6 months if they stay. When I got them to agree, I did absolutely nothing. They continued to get billed. When they called to complain, I had typed in the code “H5G” into the system. This is one of the codes we use to tell the next person that looks at their file what lie we used.
“We records calls – and we alter them!”
The other dirty little secret is that we are PAID to get the customer to say the work “Yes” or “Correct”, anything in the affirmative. Our technicians (which are located at our office) can then digitally alter the recording of the conversation. Here’s a typical example. This happens DAILY!!!!
Me: Good afternoon, DISH network, how can I help you?
Customer: I wanna cancel my service
Me: Can I have your name sir?
Customer: John Doe
Me: This is John Doe I’m speaking to?
That’s all I need. Then, I offer him a discount on an upgraded package and ask him:
Me: Would you like to upgrade to our premium package at this time sir?
Customer : NO
Me: Ok, thank you sir.
Customer: I want to cancel.
Me: Yes sir.
I hit the send button on our CRM software and the sound file goes to the techies… They loop the converstaion back and take the “Yes” that the customer said to verify his identity and paste it into the response where I asked him if he wanted to upgrade.
When the customer calls back, we simply play the altered recording laugh when he yells that he never said that. We calmly say, “Yes sir, you did, thank you for your business” and hang up. I pocket anywhere form $175 to $400, depending on which package I can trick him into “buying”.
The rep’s advice is to avoid being taped saying “Yes” – never respond in the affirmative to any question that a service rep asks you. For example, if he or she asks if your name is “John”, say, “My name is John”, or, “That is correct”. I think that advice might be difficult to follow since it’s second nature to answer “Yes” to everyday “Yes” or “No” questions…
So here’s a reminder, folks: please record your calls to AOL. I’ve been saying it for years but this call rep made me see there’s more reason to do so than I ever thought. If AOL alters voice recordings, then at least it’s your word against theirs (but do try to get at least one witness in the room when you start recording to assert that your tape is authentic).
If you care to use the Edit –>Find feature in your browser you’ll find at least a dozen comments from people actively trying to cancel their AOL accounts and comments from a few lucky AOLers who succeeded in leaving AOL’s monthly charges behind them. Problems canceling AOL? Leave a comment or email me…