Screw us, lose us

I made some travel reservations just now. Continental – on which I am a too-frequent flier – wouldn’t give me a seat assignment because their latest trick is to hold them out until 24 hours before and then cause a land rush among the overbooked. I called and said if you’re going to sell me a seat then sell me the damned seat. I got the scripted lecture about their rules. I said this was my rule: The economy’s in the crapper, airlines are in bad shape, if you want me to give you my money for a seat then give me the seat or I won’t buy the ticket. I got the seat.

Next, hotel: Rates for the Hilton are about the same as for the Marriott. The Hilton site won’t say whether they charge for internet access. I call. They charge. I hang up. I book the Marriott, where it is included.

Remember that the economic meltdown only makes us customers more powerful and our money more valuable. At every encounter, teach companies a lesson: Screwing your customers is no longer a viable business model. Screw us, lose us.

: LATER: While I’m at it, how could this conversation not turn to the kings of screwing customers as a business model: cable. Can anyone tell me why on earth they insist on sending a technician out (not cheap for them, by the way) just to put a cable card in a TiVo? I can install phones, mobile phones, alarm systems, routers, modems, anything without having to spend forever on hold with any company and without being required to wait home 8am to 8pm – no exaggeration! – for this to happen. What are they thinking? Oh, for the days of white spaces and wifi on steroids and waving goodbye to these twits.

  • http://twitter.com/bfinnegan Brent Finnegan

    Agreed. But unfortunately, this doesn’t really work with telecom and cable companies. Sprint, Comcast, etc. My experience has been: screw us, and we’ll take our business elsewhere, so a different company can screw us.

    • Steve Silverwood

      Not =always= true, but to some degree yes. I spent about a year with Verizon FiOS here at home when we moved in. Their DVR caused me so much grief — dumping all of its recordings at will (I don’t mean old ones being deleted to make room for new, I mean virtually “format c:”), having to power-cycle the box at least twice a week because of lock-ups, and so on — that I finally switched back to the Time-Warner Cable service we had when we were in our old house. Saved about a thousand bucks a year by switching, and no more problems with the DVR. The Internet connection’s not quite as fast as it was with FiOS, but it’s a heck of a lot more reliable!

      //Steve//

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  • invitedmedia

    truer words never spoken– vote with your wallet.

    • Steve Silverwood

      And don’t make it a “secret ballot” either. TELL them why you are choosing to take your business elsewhere, or they may not get the message. I always make it a point to do so — in writing, to the corporate office.

      //Steve//

  • http://www.johnathanvrozos.ca johnathan vrozos

    Always, let us buyers beware and ask and ask as many questions as possible before we pay. In the end, HE WHO PAYS IS IN CHARGE. CASH IS ALWAYS KING!!!!

  • http://www.pressekonditionen.de Sebastian

    The Internet Access is always a problem in Germany, too. Many hotels charge the use of the wifi – and often the more expensive hotels do. On the other site, cheap hotels offer the access for free. Something goes wrong here. Strange or not?

    • Steve Silverwood

      Over here (in the US), the higher-priced hotels seem to cater to the business traveler. If it’s someone else’s dime, who cares? Or at least, that’s the philosophy to which they expect the business traveler to subscribe. The less expensive establishments figure their bread-and-butter is the personal traveler, who can’t always afford the fancier services. So instead of giving you a plushly-furnished room, they give you a decent bed and your Internet access. Being a geek from back before the term was popular, I go for the latter!

      //Steve//

  • http://evilpundit.mee.nu/ Evil Pundit

    This works for biased newspapers too.

    About now would be a great time for a consumer boycott against companies that advertise in the New York Times.

  • http://www.feverbee.com Richard Millington

    Brent, but doesn’t bad customer service like those at American telecom companies open the opportunity for companies with good service? Companies that might not play by the original assumptions, like Skype?

    Anytime someone wants something that isn’t being offered opens up an opportunity. Improve the customer service of one of these companies, and the window of opportunity closes.

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  • Steve Silverwood

    Oh, how true. We consumers should never lose sight of the fact that it’s OUR money, therefore it’s OUR rules. Those who want our money need to remember that. Thanks for stating what SHOULD be the obvious, but unfortunately isn’t always apparent to the average individual these days….

    //Steve//

  • Paco

    Want to hear something funny about Peru?
    Listen to this. In the early 90′s an Spanish Multinational called Telefonica got a contract that granted them monopoly on telecommunications for 10 years. Ever thought about an equal nightmare? We had to live with it.
    Time passed and Telefonica screwed us badly, charging the most expensive internet access rates in latin america (that we still have). The 10 years passed and nearly no other company can compit in equal basis because the infraestructure inherited from former state telco and it’s development in the next 10 monolistic years is too big for the new investor.
    In fact Telefonica has lost a big market share in mobile phones(specially after an Italian Telco came anto told us “don’t be such jerks, move to my company”, so the exodus began. Unfortunatly this is not the same story for Internet acces. And don’t want to get this too long so I’ll tell you what has happened recently.
    A friend of mine told me that he wanted internet access from TELMEX (mexican Telco) but the support guy from TELMEX told him that he couldn’t install it, because the building (8 levels high) was totally wired by Telefonica. I laughed at him and told him pitty. The other day I had to sign a petition on my own building (9 levels) to have the whole building rewired, because several neighbours wanted to instal TELMEX and couldn’t because the building was totally wired by Telefonica. What a mess. Of couse I signed the petition and we will have all walls torn down to chang the wireframe, thanks to Telefonica’s greedy strategy. It seems that the same is happening in most new building in Lima – Peru. I just hope that all of us move away from Telefonica.

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