The “Don’t Leave Me” Discount

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About six months ago I noticed that I hadn’t been using XM much. We mainly listened to the satellite stations in the car when taking long trips.

The thing about a subscription is, it’s easy to just look at that monthly charge and figure that either you’ll recommit to using the service or you’ll cancel some time. Mostly, I have to admit, I don’t pay enough attention to these monthly charges.

And then XM posted my renewal to my credit card. It was huge. For some reason they renewed for multiple years and all of a sudden I was confronted with a large dollar amount of what their radio stations were worth to me.

They weren’t worth that much.

So I called the number on the website and spoke to one of the most helpful people ever.

She first figured out how the large charge had appeared on my bill. I’d signed up during a promotion when I could get the service for cheap if I signed up for two years. They were now renewing me for two years at the not so cheap amount. She adjusted that.

Then she quickly determined that I’d be more likely to listen to the radio on my iPhone or in a browser window so she suggested I could add that to my existing plan.

I asked if I could replace my existing plan with the internet plan. She said sure and typed in things here or there and then found a promotion where I could add the radio back for almost no charge.

As we wrapped up the call I asked her where all these deals came from.

“Oh,” she said, “we’re always running a promotion.”

I was torn. Why hadn’t someone looked at what I, an existing customer, was paying and offer me this promotion to continue being a customer. It’s not her fault — but why do companies treat new customers and customers who are about to leave better than the loyal customers that stay with them?

I suppose the reason they don’t treat their loyal customers better is that they don’t have to.

“One more thing,” the woman said to me, “make a note in your calendar to call next year and check to see what deals we’re offering.”

When she said “have a nice day”, I did.

Earlier this week I had a nearly identical conversation with my internet provider. The DSL speeds had never been what they said they would be and I’d been trying a cable provider and getting more than ten times the speed up and down and paying less for the privilege.

The woman at Earthlink said, “well you can get the same service you are currently getting from us for $20 a month less.”

“Really?” I asked. “If you weren’t delivering the service you’d promised, why wasn’t I offered these lower rates sooner?”

It was a rhetorical question and she mostly answered it by telling me how much she understood my frustration. Again it wasn’t her fault. She was trying the same thing the XM woman had tried but in a less personal way and it made a difference. It wouldn’t have been enough to keep me in any case – their service just wasn’t near the speed and reliability of their competition.

“Would you like to keep your email address?” she asked.

“Not if there is a fee,” I answered.

She then came at me five or six different ways to get me to sign up for the email only package as there wasn’t much of a fee. I kept thanking her politely and she kept coming up with new ideas.

When she said “have a nice day”, I didn’t believe her. I didn’t feel important or valued. I may be asking too much, but I’d like to be appreciated while I am your customer, your employee, or your neighbor. I don’t want to wait til I leave to have you throw the party for me. I was a little frustrated by our interaction.

I had a nice day anyway.