How NOT to Treat Your Customers – My Experience with Verizon Wireless
I sent the following through Verizon Wireless’ “feedback” form today:
I just tried to change my plan back from 500 txt messages/month to 250, like I had before. When I upgraded, because I was going over, I was specifically told I could go back to the 250/month (and this wasn’t very long ago). Now I’m told I can’t.
I’m extremely frustrated with Verizon’s policy of raising prices and giving new customers better deals and incentives than us long-time loyal customers. Everyone knows that technology only gets cheaper, yet Verizon insists on raising its prices, rather than follow that trend. More and more I feel that Verizon’s business model encourages us long time customers (I was with Verizon on my parents plan for years before getting the one I have now) to pack up and go to Sprint or an innovative new option like Republic Wireless, for truly unlimited everything, and prices that don’t keep increasing.
If it were just me who felt this way, or even a handful of customers, it wouldn’t be a big deal to Verizon, but as was recently shown when you tried to start charging us for paying our bill online, there’s a huge portion of your customer base that cares. On top of it Seth Godin, recognized as perhaps the world’s foremost expert in marketing has specifically used Verizon as a bad example the very issues I’m talking about. You can see his articles here: How You Should Treat Your Best Customers and here: Learning From Frustration
Unhappy customers does not lead to increased profits. Please reconsider and start taking care of us long-time customers. Oh, and please top putting garbage apps on all your Android phones!
Then I sent this message to Republic Wireless, who’s innovative approach is finally encouraging the well-known technology trend of “always smaller and cheaper” that somehow doesn’t seem to apply to Verizon and AT&T:
I assume you’ve already thought of this, but just wanted to send a message, in case you hadn’t, or wondered if there were people out there who would love this option:
If you could create a Republic Wireless app that could be installed on any rooted Android device to provide the hybrid calling, then we could bring any Sprint-compatible device to Republic. I don’t know if this is possible from a technical standpoint. But I would assume that with root access, it should be possible. If I could buy a Galaxy Nexus (even for $600 or whatever they cost) and switch to Republic, then only need to root the phone (very easy with that particular one) and install your app, but still be able to get updates directly from Google, etc, I’d do it in a heartbeat. In fact, I’d start saving money right now to come up with $1200 to get one for my wife and one for myself and we’d switch immediately. Now maybe 4G throws a wrench in things, or maybe what I suggest isn’t that easy, but if you can do it, I’d highly recommend it. There’s a lot of people like myself who have WiFi access most of the time, and HATE the ever increasing costs (what ever happened to technology always getting smaller and cheaper?) of regular mobile service. We appreciate what you’re doing, but aren’t quite ready to flock to you because of the limited phone offerings. But open that up, and flock we will!
Sometimes you just have to voice your opinion to make yourself feel better. But if lots of others do the same, Verizon will start listening, in the same way the US Congress listened regarding SOPA & PIPA, BofA & Wells Fargo heard us regarding debit card fees, Netflix didn’t split their DVD & streaming options into separate services because the cries were so loud, and even Verizon dug the wax out of their ears for a moment when we told them how upset we were about their new fees to pay online. If that happens, then it won’t be just to make yourself feel better.
UPDATE: a few days later a Verizon guy called and basically just went through the list of issues I mentioned in my message above. But instead of trying to really understand my concerns, he just spouted out “the company line” and then moved to the next item. I didn’t want to waste time with somebody who obviously didn’t want to really understand to pass on my concerns, so I didn’t push back or argue, I just let it go to get the call over with, politely.
He made several completely false statements such as “we have not increased our prices on anything.” Perhaps the per-text price hasn’t changed. But If I used to pay $5 for the less-than 250 texts that I use, and I now pay $10 for those same texts, that’s an increase! Also, data plans: for any customers who are grandfathered, they get “UNLIMITED” data for $30/month. Any new customers only get 2GB of data for the same $30/month. That’s a price increase no matter how you look at it. Here’s hoping Republic Wireless or somebody comes out with a real game-changer that starts up some real competition and humbles the big carriers and forces them to start truly competing (same with handset manufacturers).
UPDATE 2: it wasn’t long before I left Verizon. It’s just not worth the hoops you have to jump through. I want it simple. Perhaps more importantly, I want to feel appreciated as a long-time customer. I didn’t. That’s a great lesson for all us small business owners and managers: make your long-time customers feel valued and appreciated. They’ll be loyal and become your best salespeople as they tell others about you.
Since then I’ve used Straight Talk, Republic Wireless, and am now on Google Fi. All are great options for straightforward simplicity. I like Fi the best, as I get both T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks and a refund for data I don’t use.
I’m happy to report that Republic Wireless is going to announce a new phone this month (Apr), and they’re re-opening their public beta in June! I’m super excited, as my Verizon account will expire in July. I’m really hoping Republic will have a great phone (Android 4.0) announced this month. Then in a few more, we’ll leave Verizon and move both myself and Jill over to Republic! In the epic words of Mel Gibson “FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!”