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No_Op Storefronts

I went into a Bell store to ask about whether I could get a better cell phone deal. I was told, No, I cannot have a better deal.

This has happened to me more than once.  I have walked into a Bell, Telus, or Rogers store and I get told that the folks who work in the store are not allowed (or cannot (or even worse will not)) try to make a better deal with an existing customer (which in the case of Bell Mobility, I am (I have been with them for more than 5 years, which I view as a very long-term client)). They can try to make deals for new customers, but no better cell phone deal for existing customers.

What is a NoOp?

better cell phone deal

Storefront Locations are of Little Value

Throughout my life I keep coming back to things I learned when I was a young programmer and one of the interesting assembly language commands I come back to is the NoOp (which meant no operation, or do nothing).

What is the point of a NoOp? In low-level programming there were needs to sometimes fill out programs or simply have the processor do nothing for a command to let things settle down (yes, settle down is a technical term). In my grammar NoOp became synonymous with Do Nothing.

The Storefronts for most of the major Telecomm companies in Canada have become NoOps : they are simply there for folks who don’t like doing things on-line (and for folks who don’t like calling the Bell Customer Service line). I can go in and buy something (that I could just as easily buy on-line) or I can talk to someone about a problem (which I can do over the phone), but I cannot get a better cell phone deal.

This means that the only way I can get a better deal for an iPhone or any other Bell product will be to call their Customer Line, and then point out that my contract is up in 2 months and that Telus (and Rogers for that matter) are calling me to offer me better deals to have me use their services (i.e. Customer Retention).  I can’t even get a better deal going to a 3rd party such as the Future Shop or Wal-Mart, so it begs the question why are do these Mortar and Brick establishments exist?

 

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One Phone Call and $1200 Dollars Later

As I mentioned last week in Have You Spoken to Our Customer Retention Agent, sometimes a single phone call can save you a lot of money, but first you must make that phone call.

On Friday, I re-read the comments on my posts, and saw that more than one of my commenters said they call Rogers every time to get better deals, so I went to refresh my memory about how much I paid to Rogers for Cable and Internet access, and was astonished to see how high my rate was (and was annoyed with myself for not doing something about it sooner).

It was all quite easy, I called, and once I found the right person to talk to (after 3 different transfers), I got a young lady, who said she could help me out (this is after the first young man I spoke to actually did say, “… it sounds like you are thinking of changing your Cable service, you should talk to our Customer Relations team…” (I kid you not, a bright young man)). I started with how I have been a long time Rogers customer, the young lady then corrected me and said, “Sir you have been a customer since 1991” (wow that is a long time), so she got on my good side pointing that out.

Typical back and forth discussion about what might and might not be possible, and then the all important, “… I am going to talk to my supervisor, may I put you on hold sir?“, part of the game, and 5 minutes later she returned (my guess is she went to the bathroom and got a cup of coffee, but I can’t be sure of that), I was told that because I was a long time customer and because I have both Cable and Internet with Rogers, I was going to get a $50 a month discount.

This discount only came unless I agreed to a 2 year contract, but over that contract I will then save $1200 on what I am currently paying, so I am not complaining, that is for sure. I also tried to get something free on the Cable side of things, however, she wouldn’t budge on that one (too bad I was hoping to get the movie network free for a month or two, but c’est la vie).

Yet another example of what can happen if you just say to your service provider or bank, “I don’t like the price I am paying for this service”.

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Have you Spoken to Our Customer Retention Agent?

Written a while ago. Remember to ask for what you want or you will end up with a mediocre deal (at best). Don’t lke this advice? Have you spoken to my Customer Retention Agent?

Written when my wife needed a new phone. She has been using a Telus pay per use plan, which has served her well, but Telus has realized that this plan doesn’t make them enough money, so they are changing it to make it less good.

I am constantly  disgusted by how existing customers for most service companies are treated like cockroaches, and I am even more annoyed by the fact that the “store” for the service company cannot do any “deals” for you either.

Yesterday we walked into the Telus store. The nice young lady gave the same deal that anybody who walked in off the street could get. If you want an iPhone 4S (yes the iPhone 5 is coming out soon, so there should be good deals on the 4S, at least that is what we thought). I was ticked off by this, since my wife has a “credit” with Telus of $180 (where credit does not mean real money, or even usable money) but there was no way to use this “credit” to make the deal any better. I tried a few ways to reflect my annoyance without being rude. Finally the young lady said those magic words:

“… maybe you should call our Customer Retention Agent section on the phone to see if they can give you a better deal…”

I thanked the young lady and we left.

In that one sentence I learned a few things:

  • Telus does not seem to empower their sales people in the store to do much for their customers. Bricks and mortar stores are mostly useless.
  • Deals are out there, but not in the store.
  • The best deal can be had only if you thread to leave Telus. This I got from having to talk to Customer Retention, not the regular on-line sales people. Thus, she must threaten to leave Telus before my wife can get a good deal.
iPhone 3G
No She Got an iPhone 4S at the end of it

My wife and I pieced together all the information needed to call Telus. We could then talk to their Customer Retention group, to get the best deal. My wife did most of the talking and managed to get a fantastic deal. She got her “credit” back and a $100 more on top of that. Off we went to the Telus Store to execute this “great deal”.

Executing the “great deal” that is where all things went a little pear-shaped, because as I said, the folks in the store have no power. My wife wandered into the store, gave all the details of the master plan. The salesperson at the store then attempted to execute the “great deal”. She had to call in to “head office” to make it all work, and at that point the wheels fell off.

Luckily my wife had all relevant information about the chap who gave her the “great deal”. Whomever was on the other end of the phone did not want to honour the “great deal”. An hour and a half later, it seems like Telus may have honoured the “great deal”, but we cannot be sure, until we see the first bill. I am less than impressed by all this flim-flammery that the Telus Customer retention group and the Telus Store have executed.

Is This The Best Deal Customer Retention Can Give ?

My advice is whatever deal you might get over the phone, you will need to get the name of your rep and some kind of identifying number for them. That seemed to be the only thing that might have salvaged my wife’s “great deal”.

Anybody else with a similar Cell Phone tom-foolery story out there ?

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Don’t Forget Your Points!

I have talked previously about how I use different customer retention or appreciation point systems (like PC Points, Aeroplan, etc.,), but I keep forgetting that I do actually have “back logs” in a few systems that I keep forgetting about.

Case in point would be Aeroplan: This past weekend I was arranging for a short trip and I realized I was going to have to rent a car for the day. I busily went through all the possible discounts I can get from being a CAA Member, or a PSAC member, or some wack-a-doodle coupons, but it then dawned on me that even though I didn’t have enough Aeroplan points to pay for my flight (even a short  haul Ottawa Toronto run), I did have enough points to rent a car for the day (thus saving about $60). Luckily I had this epiphany before I booked my car.

The danger I guess is that with any points system is you can either:

  1. Forget you are a member, that is the case usually with me and the Shoppers Drug Mart points system, and many Hotel points systems. All you have to do is either lose your membership card or take it out of your wallet, and  you can easily forget about it.
  2. Never check your balance, so you are unaware of what you can do with your points
  3. Keep saving for something bigger, but then fall into (1) and forget you have the points.
  4. The last one is diabolical, some systems “time out” your points after a period of time (Aeroplan is guilty of this, as are many of the Hotel Point systems).

I think an interesting web site or add-on to Mint (maybe) would be to keep track of points in your “finance” system. You’d then remember these points, since they are effectively unused assets. Is there such a system out there? I’d be willing to use it, if it was out there!

Question: Anybody else forgetting about their points, or are you a good “user” and spend the points as soon as you have enough to do anything with them?

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Bank Card Security (the saga continues)

About 4 years ago my wife’s bank card was fraudulently duplicated and used (to withdraw a significant amount of money from a non-branded “white” banking machine), and back then I wrote a post humbly apologizing to TD Bank (aptly named: TD Bank I Apologize)  saying, that while I dislike their service fees and many of their investment systems annoy me, I must say that their response to that fraud was very good. TD seems quite vigilant with their bank card security.

Yesterday, we saw that the bank security security system is getting even better at detecting frauds, but that fraud is also still going on (even with the new chip technologies, which is  supposed to stop this happening).

My wife and I were out shopping and as we checked out at Sobeys my wife attempted to pay for our groceries with her TD Bank card, she tried twice and got the message “Transaction Denied“, which was very disconcerting (since this is how things started 4 years ago), so I tried my card and it worked just fine (which meant we could also eat!). We rushed home to check out our on-line banking, but no transactions appeared that suggested any problems (and we were not over drafted, which was my other concern), so my wife decided to call the TD Help line.

The first thing that suggested something was very wrong was when my wife typed in her card number on the phone, the system took her directly to an Operator stating, “You must talk to a representative immediately“.

After a long conversation where my wife was asked about various transactions that had gone on with her card, she was told that her card had been “frozen” because of a suspicious transaction in New York State (where neither my wife nor I have been to in the past little while).  Since no transaction even showed up (so far) on the on-line banking, I am impressed by the alacrity of TD bank card security system in dealing with this fraud, however, I am now very concerned about my own cards.

As you know I replaced my TD Card because it was cracked (no not stolen, physically damaged) and inadvertently secured things a bit more (since I got a new card with a new number and such), however there was a story last week that in my area of Ottawa there have been hundreds of folks who have had their bank cards cracked and had moneys stolen from their bank accounts, so I believe I may be going and getting a new debit card myself (my own version of bank card security).

Question of the day: Have you had your credit card or bank card defrauded in the past little while?

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