Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Negotiation: When Being Pushy Can Save You Money

Recent graduates have a lot of new problems on their plates. They are trying to find jobs so they can pay rent, have a social life outside dorm living, or trying to cook something other than ramen. When problems arise, you just want to throw your hands in the air and say f*** it!

Before you run crying to your parents because your internet broke, stop and think about how you can handle this for yourself. And yes you have to call customer service.

How To Negotiate and Fix Things with Customer Service Representatives

1) Say Hello and Get The Operator's Name. It's more relaxing if you introduce yourself and they introduce themselves. Plus, if things go awry, you have their name --written on a pad of paper.

2) Kill them with kindness (and Play Dumb). Anyone in a customer service jobs appreciates when someone is nice to them. It can also overwhelm the customer service if you give them too much information. When you get on the phone don't launch into what you researched online. Sometimes it's best to let them walk you through their prompt.

3) Playing Tough There are other times where you have to be tough. Not getting what you want? Ask for a manager or shift supervisor. If things go even farther south, ask for an area supervisor. Often times when an associate can't help you, it's just because they are not in the position of power.

4a) When You Are Pissed Off (Because Service is Not Up To Par). If your cable is out, your plumbing isn't fixed, etc. kindly tell the hiring measure that you were recently comparing their service to that of their competitor and that you have no problem switching over. Your parents can pull the 'I've been a customer from 25 years,' speech but recent graduates can't. So you have to threaten to take your business elsewhere. And make sure you ask your account to be credited.

4b) When You are Pissed Off (Because you are being billed for...) services you don't receive or overcharged. Let's say you did switch to another cable company but the first company is still billing you despite your service cancellation.

Three words: Better Business Bureau or Attorney General's Office. One of those sets of three.

Those words send customer services representatives scrambling and have yet to fail me. A sereis of complaints with the better business bureau can lead to an investigation and who knows, that vendor might be committing fraud and end up with a lawsuit.

I applaud Taylor Lautner for this move. Trust me, it works for normal people too.

5) Take the Survey I know you don't waste anymore time, but take the customer service survey or document your complaint. First of all, it will help weed out incompitent employees if their name keeps showing up with bad surveys. Secondly, you might score some free stuff. I got a free oil change and never have problems with my car dealership's service department and I'm convinced it's because I gave the Sales Reps bad ratings in the initial and follow up survey.

On that note, one try is not enough. If at first you don't succeed try two more times before dropping the F-bomb on the phone.

Final Note: Thank the People Who Go Above And Beyond

Last summer, my three year warranty on my Mac was about to expire and my computer was overheating. I took it into the Genius bar, got a ton of lip, left being very angry and was told there was nothing wrong with my computer.

Unconvinced, I took it back the next day--literally the last day of my warranty. This Mac Genius opened it, ran the disk utility and immediately found the problem. Hard drive was fried, computer was basically on its dying breath. He fixed it up in a day (plus I got a hard drive upgrade for free because they no longer make 40 gb harddrives for that model).

As a thank you, I got his card and wrote and email to his manager about his excellent employee.


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