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Negotiating With Telecom Customer Service Departments:

For this guide, we will use Roaming charges as an example.

Best to avoid the charges in the first place by:

1/ Enable Airplane Mode on your Smartphone, this can cut off the phone from the Wireless carrier of the country you are in.

2/ Remove the Sim Card from the Smartphone, this will cut off the phone from the Wireless carrier of the country you are in.

3/ If in a Cell phone contract, purchase appropriate Roaming package before traveling

4/ If not in a contract, purchase prepaid Sim Card for a fraction of the cost from the wireless carrier of the country you are going to.

If you do have a Cell phone bill that you find to be unfair consider the following:

a) Understand that the full charge will not disappear. Have a realistic figure already in mind for what you are willing to pay.

b) Compare your usage with one of the several travel packs offered by your provider and determine if your usage would be fully covered by an option of lesser value than your current charges. This will be useful when negotiating.

c) The first line of customer service agents will have limited abilities in terms of crediting charges and will seldom make you the BEST offer.

d) ALWAYS REMAIN CALM, there is no point in getting frustrated at the agent, this will only make them want to help you less. It is important to remember that they are also human; however they have protocols to follow. If there is a loophole available that they know of, they will be more inclined to help you, if you treat them with respect.

e) In relation to point d, if a client starts yelling or ranting, agents are trained to remain silent until the client is finished speaking. They will then proceed to ask you “may I continue now?” You can be sure if this happens to you in a conversation, the agent is less inclined to help you.

Steps: 

1) Call in to your provider and speak to them about billing issues, make sure you speak to customer service and have not been transferred to accounts receivable.

2) Understand that in 90% of cases, the maximum that the first line agents can offer you is a 50% reduction of overages. If this is not satisfactory, make sure to escalate the request to a supervisor.

3) When dealing with the supervisor, calmly  explain the situation, i.e.;

“Sir/Madam, I have been charged $22,000 for using data while roaming.

I was never notified that the charges were mounting until it was too late and I find it unfair that I am being held responsible, when you ultimately had control of the situation and could have notified me of the impending charges.”

A supervisor’s goal at this point is to work with your to resolve this issue AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, remember that every minute on the phone with these issues costs the providers.

4) The supervisor at this point will once again reiterate why the provider hold’s no responsibility in the matter. As they have ensured protecting themselves against the matter.

5) At this point, it is important to refuse to accept his answer, catching him off guard and having him work a little harder to try and reason with you (remember that the clock is ticking for him and there is the possibility of a line up of other callers wanting to speak to a supervisor which causes a backlog, costing the company money and resources).  The goal is to find out why the company did not warn you earlier that charges were building up, to which his answer will ALWAYS be “it is not our responsibility”.

If they tell you that they did send a text and you didn’t receive it, depending on the provider they more then likely made that up, once again this varies provider to provider.

6) Now try to take control of the call, inform the supervisor that you are willing to pay an amount, just not an exorbitant amount. Be pro-active and “right-fit” the situation. This means that if you were charged $300/70MB of Data with Rogers while in Mexico. A similar pack offering you 75MB is available for $225. Attempt to make a deal with them, telling the agent that you are willing to pay $225 for the data and act as if you have added a roaming pack.

There is a chance that they will offer this before hand, but it never hurts to be pro-active with them.

7) If the agent doesn’t accept your offer and will not make a reasonable offer, thank him for his time, but inform him that you will be sending a letter to the Office of the President. AGAIN ALWAYS ACT CALMLY.

8) Submit a letter to the Office of the President, inform them that you have tried to negotiate with a supervisor to no avail and that you would like to discuss this with someone further up.

9) They will contact you; remember that at this point you are costing the company more money in time and resources.

10) In most cases, the Office of the President will go ahead and right fit the charges for you. As discussed earlier, remember to establish a dollar figure of what you are expecting to pay. If you can come to a mutually satisfying settlement, you have successfully negotiated with your Telecom Provider.

11) If unsatisfied at this point, escalate your complaint to the Company Ombudsman. One of the advantages of this tactic is that the questioned charges will be set aside until a resolution takes place. Make sure to pay your pre-authorized amounts to keep your account in good order.

12) If unsatisfied after this point then escalate it to the “Commissioner of Complaints for Telecommunication Services”    http://www.ccts-cprst.ca/

It is possible, that your complaint will be resolved at this level.

13) Since you have already written your Letter of Complaint, you may consider forwarding it to:

      A/ the CRTC http://www.crtc.gc.ca/RapidsCCM/Register.asp?lang=E

      B/ Your Member of Parliament to raise awareness of this corporate misbehavior for him or her to encourage the CRTC to properly regulate this industry

      C/ Christian Paradis, Canadian Minister of Industry

           christian.paradis@parl.gc.ca

      D/ If comfortable, let your local media know of your challenge by sending them your letter of complaint.

14) It is helpful to diffuse one’s anger and frustration with some humor, if this applies, please check out:

Rick Mercer, Stupidest thing ever said:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/21/rick-mercer-telus-stupidest-thing-ever-said_n_2734060.html

Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9e3dTOJi0o

Good luck with your Telecom challenge. If you need additional help with your negotiations  please contact: Philip Passudetti  , www.passconsult.com  Philip@passconsult.com

For more information refer to www.openmedia.ca/mistreated

Matt Buie, Vancouver

$22k to $200. Roaming Charge Dad

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/03/07/cell-phone-horror-stories-openmedia-ca-report/

www.mattbuie.com

 

This material is provided for general information and is subject to change without notice. Every effort has been made to compile this material from reliable sources however no warranty can be made as to its accuracy or completeness. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Assante Capital Management Ltd. - member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and is registered with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.