In my last two blog posts, I described how an unfortunate series of negative experiences in setting up a trial subscription to a digital newspaper overshadowed the high quality of the newspaper itself. It’s a good example of how value is defined by the sum of the experiences and is not exclusively related to the features of the product itself.
 
I thought I was ready to put this frustrating situation behind me. As I reported earlier, I decided not to renew the trial subscription. So I carefully counted the days of the trial period and made sure I cancelled prior to its conclusion so I wouldn’t be billed for any additional service. The trial ended on a Tuesday so I cancelle  on the day before, Monday.
 
Guess what. When my next credit card statement arrived, I had been charged for another month of service at the regular rate. This was frustrating for three reasons; first I had cancelled prior to the period for which they were trying to charge me; second, the charge was $35 for one month which is significantly more than the $0.99 I paid for my 90-day trial; and third I had received an email confirming I had cancelled the subscription so I was not reading the digital paper for which they were charging.
 
After I counted to 10 and took a couple of deep breaths to calm down, I called customer service to correct this obvious mistake. There I learned that the billing occurred on a Saturday, three days before my trial subscription ended and two days before I cancelled. I politely explained this was inconsistent with the terms of the trial and that I had cancelled prior to its conclusion. Although courteous in tone, the customer service rep did not seem at all sympathetic and explained that the billing cycle is on Saturdays and that’s when I was billed. After a couple of slow and detailed attempts to explain why this was not logical, I was told there was nothing he could do to remedy the situation.
 
So I resorted to my previous tactic of sending an email to the VP of Customer Service and carefully pleaded my case. To his credit, I received a response within12 hours which included an apology and a complete refund for erroneous charge.
 
Now I think this trying journey is finally over. It was infuriating but reinforced two valuable lessons. Value is the sum of the experiences you have and there is a strong emotional element in assessing the way you are treated. These can overshadow the benefits of an innovative and unique product.

 


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