Consumer Power – Part I
June 7, 2009 by admncc
The other day at lunch, a colleague was telling me how her husband is a fierce consumer advocate. She said that he has fair expectations, but won’t hesitate to stand up to a company if he needs to. That was music to my ears, as I’ve spent years grandstanding and arguing that consumers should stand up for their rights and that companies should work to better resolve complaints.
Anyway, most recently this guy was upset because he had to wait on hold with his cell phone provider for more than one hour. So he sent the provider’s CEO an invoice for his time. That’s right; he billed them for his actual salary equivalent. The provider called him and said, “You can’t do that.” He said that he most certainly could and then sent them a delinquent notice when the first invoice wasn’t paid. As a result, the phone provider conceded. This guy now has a clause in his contract which says that if he has to call them and is forced to be on hold for more than a certain period of time – he gets an automatic credit on his cell phone bill. I think this guy is my new personal here! His story also reminded me of the now infamous mathematical equation check that a consumer once sent to Verizon Wirelsss.
The battle for consumer rights is taking off. And I’m curious how you feel about it? Do you complain or not complain, do you write letters or let it go, do you call the Manager or tell yourself it’s not worth it, etc?
One of my favorite blogs to read is Extreme John’s. Coincidentally, he just posted a Guest Post where his friend, Lace, complained about a recent experience with Comcast. The post also includes a video link of a Nightline story which focused on consumer vigilantes. While some consumers certainly take matters into their own hands or to the extreme, it appears that many companies are responding to those who fight back. The stories of Michael Whitford (who destroyed his Macbook on YouTube) and Bob Garfield (who launched an anti-Comast web site) are used as examples.
I couldn’t be happier that consumers are getting savvier and finding new and innovative ways to resolve their cases. Nothing is more frustrating than the not being able to get a complaint resolved and feeling helpless.
It’s time for companies to showcase their dedication to customer service. If they don’t, I’m afraid whether big or small, that they’re not going to be able to survive in this economic climate – because the heat is on…