I decided to write this post as a way of thinking through the modern system of business and how at times our generation has to adjust to it. Or maybe it’s just venting…
The business/customer relationships has been changing for years and surely is market driven. The consumer is behaving differently which caused the business to do the same. And in some cases, those that run businesses are attempting to show higher profits in the short term and not really caring about the future of the company they are fleecing in order to retain their unearned higher salaries. I could write a well informed opinion about Sprint (United Telecom) for example where it could have been the greatest. No worries, I just received my second early retirement check from them!
I’m of the generation that believes in long-term business relationships. I’ve had the same insurance guy for more than 25 years, been with only two banks in my lifetime and shop locally as much as possible for example. I’ve had the opinion a business deal has to be good for both sides. But know the customer is competing for the highest quality, best value product at the lowest price. While the business interest is moving the negotiation to at times providing the lest costly product or service at the highest sales price. I get it and eventually that business will find it’s niche. And I as a consumer I will discover that niche is exactly where I want to be in terms of value and therefore find that business and purchase from them.
But it’s a new world and in some products the tide is turning rapidly. I know it’s only business and I have to change my mindset when negotiating. Here is a recent and common example.
We all have those expenses were we have to review the contract on at least an annual basis. Karen and I cut the cord with the cable company (Direct TV) and switched off to using the digital antenna I mounted in our home’s attic for free over-the-air channels.
A minor part of that savings was used to upgrading our internet service for increased streaming of movies and shows, netting a monthly savings of about $60. Yes, that savings is small. But if we viewed every expense as just small; compounded with other small expenses that total is large. I view evaluating every monthly expense as being worth my time to review it. And know several wealthy people who think the same way.
Well, it only took speaking with nine (9) customer service representatives to cancel the service. The first four customer service employees probably think I’m a jerk. I eventually learned their jargon and was able to explain what I was asking in their words. You see, Direct TV was bought out by AT&T so I was bounced back and forth to operators who handled different aspects of the business. I learned to tell each “I’m a legacy customer who wishes to cancel my service and want to know what my final bill is and where to send the equipment.” I even started off providing my full name and service address which turned out to be the question each of the nine operators asked regardless. This change in service came about as our bill was being raised 22%. The only negotiating they would do was a one time $10 rebate.
I would have preferred to stay with Direct TV and at price we could both live with. Heck, I’ve been with my internet provider for 17 years. But for sure I recognize the new majority of customers will jump ship in a heartbeat. They do it all the time with cell phone providers, insurance agents or whatever. Do you remember those days when we all had a home phone and for years upon years the monthly cost stayed relatively flat (thanks to telecommunications regulators I’m sure.) Kind of like utilities are today for those of us not in an RV.
So for me, I’m learning to be nice when I call a provider and if the negotiations do not go well, and I know there are other options, to just move to another company or cut the service all together. And I know those long-term relationships, if there are any, may go on in the form of I quit you today and hire you back in a year.
Perhaps on a more important note is the notion of making life less complicated. I’ll bet a few readers were thinking about that several paragraphs ago. I hear ya. Cutting the cord with Direct TV will allow more flexibility once we hit the road in an RV in that I’ll delay the whole satellite TV decision and the equipment necessary to use it, or not, for awhile. And maybe that will cut down on the need to read an email or two for bill payment.
Several years ago, when I was a business owner I had one advertising service provided by again, AT&T. I paid that bill annually to reduce the amount of mail I received. Although the company continued to send a monthly bill showing I owed nothing. I called customer service and said they have two options as a business if they intend to keep me as a loyal customer, or words to that effect. Either stop sending the monthly bill, which I had to open to make sure it was not important, or cancel the advertising service. Well we ended up canceling and I shifted the money to other forms of advertising.
Maybe this is a little off topic of spending time with family or planning for a future in an RV. I just really wish more businesses would recognize ease of doing business is just as important as price and product. Until I find those businesses, I’m making life simpler by firing them when neccessary.