Saturday, January 10, 2009

It doesn't hurt to ask.

When it comes to following rules, I am a stickler. I don't believe in trying to get away with things that aren't allowed. However, when one asks and receives permission for something not usually allowed, I see nothing wrong with it. Additionally, when something is promised and not delivered, I will do my best to right the situation.

Yesterday, Erin and I went skiing at Breckenridge. The only free parking is about a mile away from town, where you park your car and get bussed in to the resort. We wanted to try for something a little closer. There is a parking lot right next to the base of Peak 9, adjacent to Beaver Run. Normally it costs $20/day to park there. We pulled up to the employee manning the little parking hut. I showed him my employee ID and said, "I'm an employee. Is there any discount for employees in this lot?" He told me there was no employee discount. Not wanting to press the issue, I asked, "Do you have any suggestions about a place we should park instead?" He hesitated, looked at the lot, looked at the clock, and said, "Well, we're not too busy today. You can park here." He raised the gate, we thanked him, and we and pulled into the lot. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Today, I got an e-mail that our Comcast statement was ready for viewing. I knew that our six month promotional rate was ending in December, so when I got that bill about a month ago I called Comcast and asked if the new rate I was looking at on December 7th was the rate I should expect to pay from then on. The representative told me, "Yes. When your promotional rate ended, we automatically signed you up for the next best rate." After hearing that, I clarified, "So, this rate of $xx.xx is what I can expect to pay for each of the following months? Is that correct?" She replied, "Yes. That amount is your new monthly rate."

So, when I looked at our new bill today, I was quite surprised to see that the bill was not a total of $xx.xx, but about $20.00 higher than the amount I expected to pay. I called Customer Service. After waiting on hold for about five minutes, I was told that I had been routed to the Texas call center (the phone number linked to our account is my cell phone number, which is still a Houston area code). There, the agent refused to transfer me and told me I had to call the 800 number again and, when prompted, enter a phone number with the area code where I live.

(As a side note, I would like to say that there is a bulk accounts manager that I call for the commercial Comcast accounts I deal with at work. She is great and helps me out every time I call. It is only when I'm dealing with our residential account that I feel like pulling my hair out!)

I called again, waited on hold again, and spoke with someone who could not help me. He transfered me to the Retention Department (great name, isn't it?), so I could ask about other specials or promotions that were available. I told Brittany about my conversation with the agent a month ago. Brittany was sorry that the misinformed agent had given me incorrect information, but my actual rate was the higher one...unless I wanted to add one or more features by bundling! I calmly and matter-of-factly said, "No, bundling is not an option for us. I am very frustrated with all of the misinformation I am given by Comcast. I have learned that I must ask very specific questions to guard against getting the wrong information, and even then the next time I call someone tells me something different. I feel this is very misleading and does not represent good business practices. The last time I spoke with an agent, I knew our promotion was coming to an end and I specifically asked if the amount of $xx.xx was our new monthly rate. Based on that agent's answer, my roommates and I budgeted according to that dollar amount. What can you do to help me keep our bill around that amount which was promised to me?" After a little more discussion (during which I never got aggressive or mean, but did stick to my guns), Brittany agreed to give us a rate of $xy.xx, just slightly higher than what the previous agent had stated would be our permanent rate. I was satisfied and thanked Brittany for hearing my concerns and taking action to resolve the matter. It doesn't hurt to ask.

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