Recently, I’ve had problems with two companies whose policies look eerily familiar. First, let’s talk about AAA. For those living outside the US, AAA is a company that supplies roadside assistance when automobiles breakdown. They have also expanded into the insurance and possibly the travel markets, and offer these additional services to their customers at discounts. What is my beef with them? It amounts to what I call stupid logic.
About two months ago, they informed me that my service call was the last one I had for my yearly service. I asked if I could go ahead and pay for another year, because my year was up in October. They said it wouldn’t make any difference, because I’d still have to wait until my renewal time to utilize my service.
This means that they don’t want my money. How’s that you ask? Well, if, in the interim, I find another company that offers roadside service that is suitable, I’m going to go with them, because I can pay for the service and get it immediately. AAA seems to be forgetting that we are in a “Have-it-your-way” society. Technology has made most things easily accessible, and if they don’t want to supply me with another year of service, which I was willing to pay for at that time, then I will be inclined to move on and find someone who will. I mean, in all honesty, how logical is this?
If I use my services up in 9 months versus 12, and I’m willing to pay for another year of service from that time, why would any smart business refuse to accept money? Isn’t that the bottom line? It’s not like they are giving the service away and therefore can pick and choose who to bless indiscriminately. I’m paying for this. So if this means that I’m willing to pay more money, which I would be, repurchasing a year of service for 9 months of use; then isn’t that my prerogative? If I used the service in 6 months and wanted to buy another year, does it make sense to tell me no, and refuse to accept 2 payments for a year of service, and furthermore, potentially lose me as a customer, especially if I have been a longstanding customer? In the Business to Customer scenario, this just doesn’t make sense.
Costco does the same stupid nonsense. Costco is so rigid to time frames that if I renew my Executive membership a month late, I only get 11 months of service for the same $110, but I’m supposed to get a year. My year of membership should start whenever I pay for the renewal, but that is not what these companies are doing. At the time I was supposed to renew I had some financial challenges, so I waited. Then I lost the job I had then, and had to wait longer. I went into the store and asked them when would my next renewal date be if I renewed the Gold membership at that point? Mind you, this was 3 or more months after my original renewal date of March. They told me I’d still have to renew again next March, and pleaded with me to renew the Executive membership. They even sent me a coupon for $34 to purchase if I renewed my Executive membership. By the time I got myself another job and a little financial stabilization, more than 6 months had past and I had not renewed yet.
However, I refuse to renew with them now. It makes no difference which membership, whether the Executive, which I certainly won’t buy now, or the Gold. I refuse to buy a membership with them because if I bought it now, four to five months from now, I’d have to purchase another one! They have me locked in for renewal in March, so I see no point in repurchasing any membership with them until next March, because I won’t get the full year membership.
I’m not going to pay the same amount of money for a shorter term, and then immediately have to pay again, without getting a year of use out of my membership. There’s no value in that and isn’t value what its all about? It is stupid for them to be such sticklers about the date the membership renews, because look at the entire year of purchases I could have been making in their store, but instead, I’m taking my business elsewhere. I had an Executive membership because I regularly spent $500-$1000 in their store when I shopped there. So does their policy make sense?
And when did anyone sign a contract with them saying they had to renew on the exact renewal date they assign, or loose part of their year membership? That’s sorts feels scammish, doesn’t it? That is poor Business to Customer service, and opens up the door for the competition to make a better offer. Not great business sense if you ask me. But what about for Business to Business?
I used to work for a small graphic design company that focused on children’s menus and books. We had a problem with our printers, which were under something like a 5 year or 20 million piece contract. The owner had hired me to handle the kids menu department and put the other girl in a new department doing regular restaurant menus. I was the first person they had hired; outside of this other girl who had started with them; that could handle the kids department.
Not only did I handle it well, but I increased his company’s revenue over 54% in the first year I was there. So he was very comfortable making me the designer/supervisor of that department. I was designing and processing so many orders that our printers exceeded the volume in the contract 2 years before the timeframe of the contract was up. They started breaking down daily, and this cost us in reliability with our customers because we guaranteed 1-2 day delivery.
The owner was very frustrated because the company we contracted with to rent and service those printers refused to give us new ones; as their machines could not handle our volume. So because they were trying to hold us to the time frame of the contract, and were too small minded in their thinking, my boss started looking around at other printer servicing companies. After all, we had almost lost a major account, which I had saved by simply being honest with the president and explaining our printing problem to him as a fellow businessman with experience with poor service from a service company.
I left the company before all the new printers were brought in, but the first printer supplier lost my boss’ business, because of they could not see a growing company’s options had changed, and refused to adjust accordingly to keep their customer satisfied and maintain their business. Do these businesses think that they are so big that they don’t have to provide great customer service? This is why people are returning to local small businesses. They are looking for more of that customer friendly service. The big businesses may get away with it for a while, but just like Comcast…word spreads fast, and some of these companies need to wake up before they do themselves in.