The Reward for Bad Customer Service

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In this case, the “reward” is one you must demand in exchange for putting up with awful customer service.

In a Star-Tribune column, John Ewoldt explains his counterstrategy in the all-too-common scenario involving less-than-ideal customer service:

Here’s what I do to stay sane in a world of mediocre customer service: I ask for a “reward” whenever I feel that I have been inconvenienced or wronged. It usually works.

Surprise, surprise, the personal anecdote he chooses to exemplify this tactic involves Comcast, perhaps the most frustrating pay TV provider in a world of pay TV providers driving consumers bonkers. After running around to replace a malfunctioning cable box, Ewoldt brought a new one home, which also didn’t work. Can’t you just see the poor guy staring at the TV and the cable box, swearing the whole time, clicker in hand? So he had to call customer service again, then wait for a couple of days for a technician to show up.

And then, after everything worked again, Ewoldt had to call up customer service again to ask for some sort of compensation for his wasted time, energy, and just for having to deal with all the frustration. After being passed around on the phone from agent to agent to manager—more frustration! Why can’t one agent handle this stuff, or even the guy who installed the new cable box?—Ewoldt eventually wound up with a $30 credit and one month’s free HD cable box rental.

The title of Ewoldt’s column is “Asking for better service (and getting it),” but I wouldn’t really call this better service. More like “Asking for a price break (and getting it) because of bad service.”