John Wall over at Ronin Marketeer has struck a nerve with his most recent post entitled Screw Your Customers. The gist is that as a loyal customer, he went to his cell phone company to get an advertised rate, only to find out that he was ineligible. Why? Because he had the unfortunate situation of BEING A SPRINT CUSTOMER! If he wasn’t a customer, though, they gladly would have offered him the deal.
John seems to have struck a nerve, as the comments to his blog have been growing steadily. And I’m perfectly happy to add fuel to the fire, because this is an example of what I’ve been talking about with regards to R/W Marketing. John is using his readership as a way to shoot back. Since this topic is a hot one for me, I’ll just follow his tracers with my own fire.
Last year I made a decision. I was not going to get rolled into another two-year contract with Verizon Wireless, no matter what they offered as perks. I’ve been a faithful Verizon customer for almost eight years. How did I end up staying with them, you may ask? Because I’m a stooge. Every time I made some sort of modification to my plan, like adding a service or adding a phone for one of my kids, I blindly followed Verizon’s policy to keep adding another two year commitment onto my existing contract.
Last December I said, “No mas.”
I had bought a new car with Bluetooth capabilities built into it. My cell phone at the time didn’t support Bluetooth, so I went to the Verizon store to upgrade. I found a phone for $99 — well that was the large-font-price. The small-font-price said $299. Everything went well until the sales rep tried to ring me up and said, “Oh, sir. You still have a year left on your contract, so you can’t get the upgrade price on this phone.”
“But, I tell you what. I can get you a prorated discount, would that be okay?”
“You mean instead of charging me $99 for the $299 phone, you’re going to charge me like $199?
“Exactly,” he said, somewhat pleased with my ability to do simple math.
“Okay, I can live with that.”
“Excellent. Now all you need to do is sign here, and extend your contract with us for two more years.”
“For getting the prorated discount.”
My demeanor changed instantaneously. “No thank you.”
“No thank you. I don’t want the discount,” I said.
“You wanna pay $299 for a phone when you only need to pay $199?”
The rep looked at me, incredulously — blinked a few times — then tried to enter my request into his computer. He couldn’t figure out how to do it. “I need to speak with a manager,” he said, walking off to some corner of the store.
The rep came back with the sales manager in tow.
“What seems to be the problem?” the manager asked.
“No problem,” I said. “I just wanna buy this phone.”
“But you don’t want the discount?”
“I’d love the discount. But the cost for the discount is too high.”
“But there is no cost. You just need to extend your contract.”
“And I’m not willing to do that.”
He knew exactly why. He knew that extending the contract was a sucker’s bet…especially if at the end of the year I was a free agent and could shop around and get the deal John Wall couldn’t.
“It really doesn’t matter, does it?” I said firmly.
He shook his head, helped the rep find the appropriate keystrokes, and sold me my Bluetooth-enabled phone for full price.
To tell you the truth, I’ve never felt happier to pay retail for anything.