Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Telephone Tree

This story and concept is based on an article from the 2600 magazine.
Did I mention that I think 2600 is one of the best zine's for the money?
Well it is.

Okay, so here's the game.
Let's say you order something from a company that costs $20.
It's sent to you but when you open the package you find the item is broken.
You call the company to report the damage.
But you don't get a live person at first.
You have to climb the tree. The tree being the menu we all know and love when calling a company.
Press 1 for English
Press 2 for sales, 3 for tech support, etc. , etc.
You finally work your way through the tree only to be put on hold for the next customer service rep.
By the time you finally get to talk to a 'real' person you may have already wasted 20 to 30 minutes.

But the company already knows this. In fact they make a science out of it. They have statistics on how long a man will wait while on hold as compared to how long a woman will wait.
They are banking on you hanging up.
But let's say you hang in there and wait it out. You finally get a rep, explain the damage and expect immediate action.

Guess what Bubba? Your wrong. Action will be much less then immediate if any at all.
The rep informs you that they will need to send you out some claim forms and a return number.
So you give the rep all your info and hang up.
A week goes by, then two. Still no claims form.
So you call the company back.

Here you go again! Time to climb the tree.
Again you are put on hold for the next available rep.
If you are still hanging in there you probably now have over an hour of your time invested.
And if your trying to make these calls during your lunch hour, you can pretty much forget it because every other victim is trying to make that same call during their lunch hour.
But you hang in there because you either have time to waste or you are tenacious about getting an unbroken item you paid for.
Again the rep says you need a claim form and there must have been a mix up so they will make sure it goes out to you right away.

A week goes by, then two and finally.......
You get the idea.
The company is betting on you giving up and cutting your losses.
They saved themselves money by not having to pay for a replacement item and shipping both ways.

Meanwhile you are wasting time and money (time = money) trying to replace a 20 buck item.

The poorer people will usually be the one's cutting their losses. They are too busy working to stay on the phone a 1/2 hour or longer more then 1 or 2 times trying to get hold of a real person that will actually help them.
Whereas the corporate executive or rich person who has people working for them can have one of their workers do the phone call shuffle.

But like I said, the companies have statistics on all the scenarios and population.
They know the odds of having to send out a replacement even before they ship it to you.
So what can one do?
How can we fight back?

Well there is one way that may get their attention and get you some action.
Is it legal? I believe so. Although it may fall under some harassment or possibly the F'ed up terrorism law.

What you need to do is during the first phone call make it very clear to the rep that if you don't receive a claims form or replacement within a certain amount of days you will be taking action against the company.

Action? What action?
Legal action? Nope! That is even a bigger waste of time and will usually cost you more money.
What you need to do is enlist the aid of about 20 friends.
Give them the info they need to make a claim for that item including your shipping info.
Now pick a time that will be good for all who can spare a 1/2 hour or more.
Now at the designated time have all your friends call the company to speak with a rep.
What you can even do is split the group into 2 or 3 squads so they can make their call a bit after you and your squad have made your call.

The company probably hires a call center to field their calls.
But one thing every call center does is make notes of who called.
When they see that you have called in 20 or 30 times a day for two or three days you can almost bet that some action will be taken.

That action can be on of several scenarios.
You get your claim form.
You get your replacement item.
You get a summons to appear in court or a cease and desist letter from their corporate lawyers.

No matter. You got some action.
And maybe if enough people stand up for their rights and take action against these companies that will stoop to new lows for the sake of a better bottom line, this type of corporate crap may start to subside.

Don't take no for an answer. Stand up for your rights.
Remember that you spent your hard earned money to purchase their product that will generate a profit for the company.
Use you spare resources to waste their time and money.
That usually gets them to act so they can get back to increasing their bottom line.

And as always, you take full responsibility for any legal problems you may have by following this advice.
I will in no way be held accountable or responsible if you get hauled away as a terrorist or any other felony charge.

Thanks to Barrett Brown and his excellent article on Holding Actions found in the 25-2 volume of the 2600 magazine.



Barrett said...

Your welcome, glad you liked it =)

Barrett Brown

TaZMAn said...

Thank you Barrett for writing a very informative article and submitting it to 2600. One of my favorite mags!