Customer Service, "How's My Driving", and DISH Network Ineptitude

This blog piece: http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/04/think_little_to_think_big.html , shows what happens when your customer service is so regimented no one is able to think for themselves. If your "customer service" and sales is outsourced and contracted out, how do customers find someone who has the power to help them?

The answer, all too often, is that they can't.

The article above is about DirectTV.

I had a run-in with Dish Network last week, which ended when the installed brought out the box to reveal it was totally Tivo incompatible, despite what sales had promised. ("We are cancelling the installation.")

The run-in was this: We were promised free installation. They asked what type of home we had. I described it. They said free. I then specifically asked, after an experience at my last apartment, if there was anything that could cause us to have an additional installation charge. They said no.

So the installer arrives. And promptly says that if he can't drill holes in our outside walls, and run the cable all over the siding, but has to go into the crawl space or attic, it's an additional $60 per jack.

This is not what I was sold.

So I call Dish. And I'm told, after about 20 minutes of trying to explain what is going on to a woman who has obviously never had a cable install anywhere herself ("I don't understand. Outside wall? What's that mean? Why don't you want the cable there?"), I'm transferred to a "supervisor." Who tells me that additional installation charges are completely up the installer.

"Your people told me no additional charges!"
"If the installer decides the installation is extreme..."
"Um, inside wall is extreme?"
"Well, you will have to talk to his supervisor."
"Can you give me that number?"
"No, you have to ask for it from the installer."
"So, I have to go confront this guy and ask for his boss's number?"
"Yes. I don't see why that's a problem."
"You obviously aren't a five foot two female with two six foot installers in the house."
"The installer's supervisor has to authorize there not being a charge, because the money goes to them."
At this point I know it's all over. There's no way the installer's boss is going to tell me they won't bill me when it's money that goes straight to him. (In MBA land this is what you call conflict of interest.)
"So what you're saying is there is nothing you had do to help me?"
"Well... um...."
"*wait in silence*"
"We can ask for a call back from his supervisor. (It's now after 6)."
"Ok, you do that."
"Thank you for choosing Dish..."
Needless to say, no one ever called back. Not even a "missed" call.
I view the "what do you mean there's one box and a UHF remote?" thing as rescuing us.

Getting back to customer service...

There's many, many stories of companies that reap success by empowering employees to provide true customer service. But when the company does not actually run its own business -- when everything is just bouncing the customer from one contractor to another, and no one in invested in the corporation or the service, they make the market ripe for the picking.

If there was a cable/dish provider who had a)excellent customer service b)didn't require contracts with opt-out clauses that cost 5x what they are supposedly paying for and c)(this is wishful thinking, I know), let me choose what 25channels *I* wanted and d)didn't use rebates, I would happily pay 4x as much per channel for the service. For just points a,b, and d I would happily stick with one company for years.

As it is they all have crappy service, they all have contracts, and they all have fee-per-month tv top devices, so there's no reason to choose one above the other.

Market ripe for the picking.

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