Deciphering Customer Service Responses

Today I called the alarm company my Sweetie and I use at our apartment. More than a decade ago, the apartment got broken into not once but twice within a year (the police speculated it was the same criminal/s) so, in response to those break-ins – and to feel safer – I signed up for an alarm service. I never wanted to feel “unsafe” again…

Thief-Break-In-RobberyI have to admit, the alarm service did/does give me a feeling of security (I have requested an armed response) and, overall, the service has been good. That said, about every eighteen months or so, my quarterly rate “creeps up” four or five dollars. In fact, the same service that I signed up for a decade or so ago now costs me $112.00/quarter, compared to the $79.00/quarter it cost me when I signed up. That is an increase of 42% over the original contract price – yet I’m in the same apartment, I have the same service, so I have to ask,

Why?

How can a company justify a rate increase of over 40% over a decade? I mean, I do not MAKE 40% more than I did a decade ago (not even close, BTW!) So why the increased cost? I was determined to find out the justification for these additional charges, so I called my “security monitoring provider” and spoke with a lovely CSR (customer service rep) named Viki (I know she spells it that way because I asked her name before the call ended).

calling

CSR: “Thanking you for calling G******* Alarm, this is Viki, do you have an emergency?”

Me: “No, Viki – at least not in the traditional sense. No, I have a question about my bill.”

CSR: “Great! How can I help you with that?”

Me: “I see my bill went up since last quarter – can you tell me why?”

CSR: “We had a rate increase effective July 2014, which is reflected on this billing statement.”

This is when I shifted into what I like to call “Two-Year-Old” mode.

Me: “A rate increase? WHY?”

CSR: “Periodically we have rate increase adjustments and that is what is reflected on your billing statement.”

Me: “OK, I get that you had a rate increase – but WHY?”

CSR: “Why what, Sir?”

Me: “WHY must I pay a rate increase? My apartment is no larger, there has been no change in service or equipment, so WHY the increased cost?”

CSR (obviously a little rattled): “Sir, may I put you on hold for a moment while I check?”

Me: “Of course.”

About two and half minutes pass – I imagine Viki grabbing a quick smoke, running to buy a fresh Mountain Dew, and she’s back…

CSR: “Sir? Thank you for holding while I checked into your billing charges. I did verify that there was a rate increase July 1st, which is reflected on this billing statement.”

Me (now pissy and slightly frustrated): “Yes, Viki, you explained that before you put me on hold. My question is, WHY is there a rate increase? What justifies your company arbitrarily charging me more for what seems to me to be the exact same service. WHY?”

CSR: “Sir? I will have to check into that and get back with you. Is blah-blah-blah the best number to reach you at?”

And with that, the call was terminated. Viki was on to the next customer. She will never call me back.

I spent 3.5 years in high school studying Latin. A HUGE part of my studies involved doing translations – translating Latin into English. Allow me to attempt to translate this for conversation for you…

When a CSR says, “We had a rate increase adjustment,” what that means in English is “We are a big company that can charge whatever we want for the same service. You have few options so suck it up or leave.”

09092009_thumb_nose_1

I co-own a small business. My business partner and I bend over backwards every day, just to SURVIVE, let alone THRIVE. It galls me when companies like this one just raise their rates because “they can.” Jerks.

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