Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Loyalty: A Two-Way Street


Update January, 2014: I came close to giving up, but kept feeling like this wasn't the Rogers I knew. So I wrote a letter to someone at the company and told them my story. A very nice woman named Kayla contacted me and offered me a very satisfactory solution. I am again a very happy Rogers customer. Meet my new baby:




I don’t have a smartphone. Yes, really. 

There are a few reasons for me being so hopelessly Luddite. One, I’m cheap. I have a perfectly serviceable flip phone with a plan that costs me $30 a month. This is a decent price to pay for something that’s essentially insurance and a watch. I use it very rarely, usually only for outgoing calls and to keep time when I’m away from home. Another reason is that my rheumatoid arthritis and disability makes it difficult for me to use a smart phone or tablet. My neck doesn’t like me looking down and my fingers don’t have the dexterity required to text wildly.

That said, I have lusted after a smartphone for a long time. Aside from the sheer geek fest of smartphones, it does have some benefits. I could use it to make notes for articles or The Book II when I’m out, saving me from carrying a notebook everywhere. Social media is part of my job, so while I’m waiting for my ride, at the doctor’s office or bored in a meeting (it happens to all of us), I could attend to Twitter and Facebook and focus on writing when I’m back in front of the computer. I also very, very badly want to play around with photo apps and have an idea for a project that would be much easier if I had a smartphone, rather than using my camera. 

This lust comes and goes in waves — I consider, realize I’m too cheap or too disabled to use one and it goes away again. Then Dragon came out with an excellent app that gives way more voice control and it got harder to resist. The wave of smartphone lust that hit me in the summer actually propelled me to my local Rogers store — my current provider — to lift various members of the species, checking the weight. The Samsung S4 was the best. Then I saw the cost of the monthly plan and the cheap part of me propelled me right back out the door.

This weekend was Black Friday and yes, it’s increasingly celebrated (?) in Canada, too. So I checked the Rogers website and lo and behold, they offered a smartphone for free with a two-year contract. I’ve been a Rogers customer for almost 20 years, so committing for another two was totally fine. I go to the store, we take a look at the monthly plan and I decide that $75 for a plan that includes 1GB of data is a bit of a jump from my current $30. I ask if they can help out a loyal customer and am told to call the loyalty department.

The loyalty staff gives me savings of $10/month, with global texting. This means $71/month before tax (part of this is the discount for bundling, as they also provide my internet and TV). I tell Loyalty Guy I’ll think about it and my mother persuades me to go ahead and be nice to myself. Other than some new jeans and a few sweaters, my primary expenditures this year have been a crown and repairing my automatic door opener and wheelchair. I decide she’s right.

While waiting for Loyalty Guy to call me back, I have a chat with the attendant helping make my dinner. She’s also a Rogers customer, has the same plan that would cost me $71 before tax, but she pays $60 after tax. So I decide to do a bit more research and flutter by a couple of wireless provider websites. Fido, Rogers’ discount arm, will give me the same plan with 2GB of data for $65/month. Wind Mobile will give it to me for $50.

Hmmmm….

I talk to Loyalty Guy again and he doesn’t budge. He tells me that Rogers has a better network, is faster and has fewer dropped calls. I tell him that for $20-30 less, I’m willing to have my Twitter load a bit more slowly. He thinks maybe the discount options would be a better choice for me. Then I double check: I have been a faithful Rogers wireless customer for almost 20 years. Is he willing to lose me, rather than match a competitor’s price? The answer, phrased very nicely, is yes.

Seriously?

Yup. Tried chatting with the Rogers customer service department in Twitter and came up against the same wall. Lest you believe me unreasonable, I’m not expecting them to match the Wind Mobile price — I’m okay with paying more for a faster, more reliable network — but meet me part of the way at least!

There’s a lot of talk about customer loyalty. About how it’s easier and less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to create a new one. This is why customer service is important. It’s why companies go out of their way to make their customers happy, because if they are, they will not just stick around, but tell their family and friends about how happy they are. This creates new customers.

If I have been loyal to a particular company for almost 20 years, that company has a sure thing. Well, almost a sure thing. Inertia is a powerful force, but it can be broken. And given that this particular company has provided my TV for 25 years and my internet for 12 or so, that’s a lot of history and loyalty. I wonder if they really want my inertia to be broken? Sure, Rogers is a very large company and can afford to lose me as a customer. But does that mean they should actively try to?

In all this talk of customer loyalty, there’s something missing, namely company loyalty to their customers. If you are asking me to stay with your company, but are not willing to give me a reason to do so, where is your loyalty to me? Commitment is a two-way street, in romance and in business. I may stick around for a long time because I have been here a long time, but if someone else offers me the love and attention that I’m no longer getting, it can chip away at loyalty. When that happens, you can start looking really hard for a reason to stay. Sometimes, you find it. Sometimes, you don’t.

This particular wave of smartphone lust did not result in one making it into my possession. I’ll be keeping an eye out for good offers, though. I suspect that will lead to a change in provider down the road.
   

2 comments:

Wren said...

I think you're perfectly justified in changing providers, given the circumstances. I'm sometimes amazed by how un-loyal companies are to their customers and even employees these days. I guess the world has grown out of such quaint concepts as loyalty and manners.

I did spring for a smartphone. And I use it for exactly what you're using your flip-phone for: the occasional phone conversation and the time. My daughter prefers texting to calls, so I do that now and then, too. But the smartphone costs SO much more than a regular un-smart cell phone.

And so, when my 2-year contract ends (in Feb 2014), I'm switching back to your basic cellphone. It's all about money. ;)

Eileen said...

They assume that inertia will keep you there - whatever. We need buildings insurance for a couple of properties and, since they are in the UK and we live in Italy, the choice of providers is a bit restricted. I took out the second one a few weeks ago just about the time the renewal for the first appeared. The renewal for the old one was something like 3 times the new one - so I called to check. Just because I had bothered to go "Wait a minute..." I got a rebate of £130 - after the usual "Oh well it depends on the area blah blah blah".
If I hadn't needed a second policy it would never have occurred to me I was being taken for the proverbial ride.And I've been a customer of that group for over 40 years for one thing or another.

Bah!