How to Win a Better Deal From Your Service Provider

In our recent feature 10 Things We Hate About ISPs and Cable and Phone Companies, we report that one of people's greatest frustrations with service providers is their penchant for advertising nicely priced deals on serivices that are aimed at new customers, but that are off-limits to loyal, existing customers.

I recently found myself feeling that very frustration. I was paying Comcast almost $60 per month for broadband service, when they were offering in my area a promotional rate on the same service of only twenty bucks a month. Something had to give, so I bit the bullet and contacted Comcast (via chat so folks at home could follow along).

Here's the cut-and-paste of my chat session this morning. (Note that the names here have been changed, and some redundant messages have been removed.) Read on:

user mark_ has entered room

analyst Jocelyn has entered room

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:16:37 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Hi! How are you doing today?

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:16:41 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

fine thanks

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:16:44 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

How may I assist you today?

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:16:59 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

how much is my monthly broadband charge?

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:17:33 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Glad to hear that you are doing fine today.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:17:56 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

how much is my monthly broadband bill?

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:18:14 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Let me pull up the account for this.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:18:16 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Do you have the account number handy?

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:18:18 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

no

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:18:30 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

That is okay.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:19:22 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Please give me a moment as I pull up the account for this.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:21:26 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

still there?

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:21:45 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

are you giving me your full attention?

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:22:35 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Yes, Mark.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:24:02 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

To ensure the integrity of your account information, could I please have the last 4 numbers of your SSN.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:24:31 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

XXXX

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:25:02 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Perfect! Thank you for verifying security.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:25:26 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Mark, your current service rate for your High Speed Internet is at $58.95.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:25:46 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

This is with current speed 12Meg Performance package.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:26:50 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

i have to inform you that i will be forced to cancel and move to ATT service, unless you immediately switch me to your $19.99/month promotional price

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:27:24 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

I understand, Mark.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:27:58 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

However, please be advise that the promotional rate are for current customers with either cable and digital voice service.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:28:21 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

i don't care

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:28:47 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

However, we do have a special department that can provide you the offer or may provide you a service discount.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:29:25 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

they can call me. i will not call them and wait on hold forever.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:30:23 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

You may reach them at these number at 1-888-2662278 Extension Number 54097 or 1-866-565-4863 at your most convenient time to confirm your request.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:30:32 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

negative. cancel my account

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:32:24 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

just for your notes, i have given you an opportunity to retain me as a customer, and you have declined.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:35:04 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

I understand, Mark.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:37:52 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

im still here. what's going on?

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:38:46 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Thank you for waiting.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:39:37 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Mark, please allow me to escalate you to our sales department to further assist you on this and to confirm is we can provide you the promo.

Jocelyn(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:41:38 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst

analyst Merril has entered room

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:41:47 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

I will be more than happy to assist with your order today. How are you?

analyst Jocelyn has left room

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:42:24 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Please give me a moment to review your chat transcript with the previous rep. Thank you.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:42:48 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

ok

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:43:59 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Thank you for waiting, I understand you want your internet rate lowered to $19.99/mo, is this correct?

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:44:37 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

yes, but for six months, as the promotion specifies.

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:45:02 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Let me just pull up your account. May I have your apartment number, please.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:45:20 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

2

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:45:27 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Thank you.

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:45:29 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

One moment, please.

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:46:05 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

May I please have the account holder's name.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:46:15 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Mark S. Sullivan

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:46:24 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Thank you.

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:46:39 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Let me just check if the $19.99 is available in your address.

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:47:49 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

I have already applied the discount, Mark. Your internet service is now for $19.99/mo for the next 6 months. Is there anything else you want to add to your order? We do have good deals on Digital Voice and cable currently.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:48:30 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

thank you, but i have neither a tv or a land-line phone

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:48:49 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

thank you for adjusting my rate. are we done?

Merril(Fri Jul 17 2009 14:49:04 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

Let me just get your confirmation numbers.

mark_(Fri Jul 17 2009 11:49:11 GMT-0700 (PDT))>

ok

(salutations, survey participation come-ons, blah, blah)

When this chat took place, I had a $19.99-per-month broadband deal from a competing provider sitting on the table in front of me. The competing offer was for far slower Internet, and I dreaded the interruption in service, but I wasn't bluffing--I was indeed ready to cancel. I think that's what gave me the edge. That and months of pent-up anger over my cable bill, and a whole pot of coffee.

Comments