If you extend a short-term introductory offer to encourage prospects to become regular customers, both the product and the service should be exceptional. Here’s a personal experience where the product was great but the service left much to be desired. This week I’ll describe my treatment as a customer. Next week I’ll offer some recommendations on what would have made it a higher value set of experiences.
I received a promotional email from a well-known newspaper offering a huge discount on an 8-week trial digital subscription. Having a positive impression of the paper, I thought I’d try it. The trial price was the same for all three levels of access; computer + mobile, computer + tablet, or all access. Since I don’t have a tablet, I opted for the first choice. Later I learned a
specially formatted reader that runs on laptops requires one of the options that support the tablet. No problem I thought, I’ll just call Customer Support and have them change my trial subscription to the all access. This shouldn’t be a problem because the trial price was the same for all options.
This is when it became a little challenging. The Customer Service Rep listened to my situation and agreed to switch my trial subscription from computer + mobile to all access. This was quick and easy. Only when I reviewed the confirming e-mail did I notice that the trial period was now 4 weeks, not the previous 8 weeks. So I called Customer Support back.
After over half an hour explaining the circumstances and checking with her supervisor, I was told they were not aware of any 8-week trial offer and could only offer me the 4-week period. When I politely explained I didn’t want the trial period to be cut in half just because they weren’t aware of it, she suggested I cancel the current 4-week all access subscription and resubscribe
for the 8-week all access subscription using the link from the initial email. She assured me I would not get billed for two subscriptions. Guess what happened?
When I received my credit card statement, there were two charges; one for the 8-week all access trial and one for the 4-week all access trial. I called Customer Support for assistance in correcting the erroneous billing. I was politely informed it was against their policy to offer refunds on trial subscriptions so there was nothing they could do. My calm, logical explanation that this was not a refund but correcting a double-billing had no impact. So I wrote the VP of Customer Service politely explaining the situation. I received a prompt reply with an apology and a credit for the second charge that should have been cancelled.
A few days later, I learned I could share my all access subscription with a relative. I entered the necessary information on my account page and discovered after a reasonable amount of time the connection was not working. On my first call to Customer Service, I was told their computer system was down and they couldn’t help me. The next day, my second call was met with puzzlement as to why it wasn’t working but was told their computer system was down and they couldn’t help me again. My third call on the following day resulted in the suggestion to delete the connection and try to reestablish it. This didn’t work either.
On my fourth call on the fourth day, I was informed the person I was to share my subscription with hadn’t completed the confirmation procedure of which we were never notified. The Customer Service Rep volunteered to complete the confirmation so the connection could be completed.
To summarize, in order to change my subscription from one level of access to another and set up a shared subscription, I had to call customer support seven times for a total of close to two hours on the phone and write to a VP of Customer Service to correct an erroneous double billing.

Next week I’ll comment on how I’d like to be treated as a customer and make some recommendations to companies which will improve the experience they offer their customers.

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