A Short Guide to Deceiving Your Customers

tl;dr: Don't. 🙅‍♂️

If I had to make a list of things I hate when contacting customer support, deceiving answers would be close to the top. Recently I had the unfortunate privilege of receiving one. I'd like to tap into that experience and see if there's anything I can take out of it. I am supporting you, after all. ✨

Make a Sale

When I was a remote work hatchling, I thought getting unlimited 4G mobile internet was the way to go. With almost symmetric upload/download in a portable and decently priced package, there wasn't much more for me to wish for.

When I came into the store I asked them to check the signal of my base of operations, home. I needed the Internet to be very stable. After confirming exceptional signal coverage, I was quick to sign the contract. Simple as. 👏

First month went by and I was a happy customer. Good Internet connection is the one you don't have to think about. Boy, was I in for a treat. 😏

Deflection

After a few months, my connection had developed an ability to shapeshift—it turned into a dial-up connection. The one you'd get from a stock modem. I could almost hear that dreadful sound. I was waiting so long for pages to load my hair was turning grey. Then I’d had enough. I called customer support. They quickly redirected me to a technical support email and asked me to explain the issue.

Hi there,

I'm using your Unlimited GB package on [number redacted], and the SIM card is plugged into my own router. For the last few days my download speed has been 1 Mbps (bad) with the upload speed being 17 Mbps (good). I have a static location, [address redacted]. I've reset my router and all other devices, tried a different router and even tried the SIM card in my mobile phone. The issue persists regardless of the device.

I'd be grateful if you could fix this. I'm a remote worker and need stable Internet.

Lie and Hope for the Best

What I got back was a primer in bad customer service: 426 words of utter bullshit and contradiction. I'll spare you the pain and give you paraphrased highlights.

We've analyzed the signal and have determined it's of very high quality with no interruptions. In addition, there have been no issues with our signal broadcasting equipment. Having said that, the speed can vary depending on the micro-location of your router. We advise you to reset your router to factory settings and update the firmware. Besides that, we recommend putting the router next to the south-facing window.

Did they want me to click the heels of my shoes and repeat "There's no speed like hyper speed" as well?

We expect to significantly improve the signal coverage by the end of the summer. We're expanding the capacity of signal emitters. We'll build new signal emitters by the end of the year, which will greatly improve the signal coverage on your location.

If that self-repeating snippet didn't make any sense to you, you're not alone. Why did they need to greatly improve signal coverage if it was already excellent? Would they improve it by the end of the summer, or the end of the year? Would the Tin Man ever find a heart?

The only thing I could say after reading the whole shebang was

I hope you'll be able to micro-locate my cancelled contract.

Redemption

I don't blame the person delivering the information. It's the responsibility of every company to empower its employees to give honest, empathetic answers. That's one of the reasons why I joined HelpDocs. 😉

If your product sucks in a certain area, that's ok. We're only humans. Acknowledge it, hear me out and assure me you're working on it. Here's what I wanted to hear.

Hey Sebastian,

Thanks for getting in touch and sorry you had to wait such a long time to hear from us.

I'm very sorry we haven't been able to match your expectations. Our infrastructure at your location can't handle all the traffic right now. ☹️

We are planning to significantly improve the service by the end of the summer. We're building additional signal emitters that should be able to meet the demands of your area.

I realize this isn't the answer you wanted to hear. If you do wish to stay with us, I'd like to offer you the next 3 months on us for both of your SIM cards.

Let me know if you'd like to take me up on the offer. 😊

If you ever catch me giving you dishonest and tone-deaf answers, I want you to tell me to stick it. 🖕 You'll do me a favor.

Negative Can Still Be Positive

Getting a negative answer can also turn into a positive experience. That's exactly what the folks at Ableton gave me when they couldn't meet my demands.

Ableton have three versions of their Live product: Intro, Standard, and Suite. Being a stingy person, I went for the cheapest, Intro version. It did all the things I wanted it to do, but I didn't get all the fancy stuff that actual musicians use.

After a few years, a new version came out and I got stung by the capitalist bee. 💸 I needed the latest version of Live Intro, but I didn't want to pay the full price. Yes, I was one of those people. Here's what I wrote:

Hi there,

I would like to upgrade from Live 9 Intro to Live 10 intro. Is there a special discount pricing for owners of Live 9 Intro? I can't seem to find any information about this. Paying 79 Euros (Full price) for upgrading the software that I use only for practice seems a bit too much for me.

Thanks,
Sebastian

I knew they didn't offer the upgrade path because it was nowhere to be found, but I decided to play dumb. Here's what I got back:

Hi Sebastian,

Thanks for getting in touch with Ableton.

We don't offer upgrade paths from Intro to Intro licenses unfortunately. You can either use your Intro license to upgrade to Standard or Suite or you would have to purchase a new Live 10 Intro license. If the 79 Euro seem to much, you could think about selling your Live 9 Intro license.

Hope this helps. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me again.

All the best from Berlin,

That was written by a person that actually read my question! They got straight to the point and delivered the bad news. No sugar coating, no fake apologies.

What they gave me were options. Heck, they even suggested to sell my old license. In fact, they have a whole forum section dedicated to selling them.

Even though I didn't get what I wanted and decided to keep using my old license, I had a positive experience. When does Ableton 11 come out? 🙃

A Short Guide to Deceiving Your Customers
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