I have been having a hell of a time canceling my old web hosting with Burstband. It's been a few months now and I've called, emailed, filled out online forms, and I have never reached a live person or received confirmation that my account was shut down, and I still get charged. I finally had to file a dispute through my credit card company. It's $8.99/month, so they owe me at least $26.97. I got to thinking about it, and I realized they really should pay me for the two hours of my life I have wasted trying to cancel the damn thing. I usually charge $80/hr for consulting so the total comes to $186.97.
The experience brought to mind other companies that have aggravated me recently, and I thought about Peter Drucker. Drucker said that purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. What follows is a list of 9 companies that aren't creating customers, they are creating enemies. Instead of me paying them for their product or service, they should be paying me for putting up with them. That kind of cash flow isn't a good business model, but now that Andy Fastow is out of a job maybe he can work with these folks and help them show some profits.
If you work for one of these companies, please let your management know how they are treating their customers.
- Burstband – For reasons explained above.
- BankCard Services – For telling me in one phone call that I could dispute a charge over the phone once they were open on Monday, then telling me when I called back that I would have to mail something in. Mixed messages to customers is not good business.
- Every rental car company except Hertz – Because every time I go and I decline the extra insurance, I get tired of being lectured about what a bad choice that is. Making customers feel stupid is not good business.
- Discover Card – I joined in 1997 when I was in college because it was the only credit card Sam's Club would take. Now they send me something in the mail several times a week and usually call me once every 4-6 months to see if I want a Discover Card. Somebody didn't sync up some databases.
- The Courier Journal – It doesn't suck, it's just uninteresting- unless you like a business section that reprints WSJ articles that you have already read. I stay subscribed because Mrs. Businesspundit loves the coupons.
- Insight Media – Insight upgraded some hardware that led to unplanned Internet outages of up to 7 days for tons of local subscribers. To my knowledge, the only response they have issued so far is that they are sorry and are figuring out what to do. Business 101 would say that if you don't provide a service you said you would provide, customers should receive a credit. I think Insight's plan is to make excuses that they are working on that until we forgive and forget.
- Verizon Wireless, for being sure that my cell phone bill stays so complicated that I just pay it and don't ask questions, and for being sure not to offer plans that allow for an apples to apples comparison to other wireless providers.
- Ford – The local Ford plant has a separate parking lot for employees that don't drive Fords. Note to Ford – treating your employees like outcasts is not a morale booster (although I wouldn't be surprised if there was a management book entitled "Ostracizification: Using Attrition To Improve Employee Performance). If your own employees won't use your product, perhaps that is the first clue that something is wrong. It doesn't affect me personally, but I still do not like it.
- Technorati – It's the blog search casino. You never know if you are going to get a hit or a busy signal, but it sure makes the wait exciting.
So at this rate, I think soon I will probably quit my job and just have companies pay me for the pain I go through to do business with them. Then they can book my lifetime estimated revenue this quarter, offload the future payments they will owe me to some special purpose entity, and watch their stock shoot through the roof as earnings go up and up while everyone ignores the fact that they haven't made any real money. And to think I went to business school because I thought commerce makes the world a better place.
Feel free to add entries in the comments if there are companies that you deal with that should be paying you. Or if you write your own blog post about it, shoot me an email so I'm sure to see it.
I feel much better now.
(I found that cool picture above at PayMe Design)