Companies and their customers…

Why do companies go out of there way to make customers angry? Have you noticed how many products and services seem like they were designed to frustrate the customer? This blog entry is going to be a rant. It won’t accomplish much except to make me feel better at the end :) Below are some products, services, or business practices that I feel are a complete slap in the face to the consumer.

1) DVDs that won’t allow you to skip the advertisements at the beginning before you can watch them – I can only imagine the group of dimwits sitting around a table deciding that angering millions of people to make a quick advertising buck was worth it. I can’t stand to start a movie for my kids only to have to wait 10 minutes to actually start the movie. I avoid buying kids movies for this very reason. When will they ever learn?

2) AC power adapters with no label on them – Everyone I know has a drawer full of black ac power adapters that they have no idea what they are used for. Manufacturers don’t have them labeled because they cost a little bit more. Many of these are used for several different devices and they save their 2 cents by not having them labeled for their specific device. Sure I can label my devices myself but should I have to? Come on!

3) Airlines miles that you can’t use when you want, and have to pay double when you do use them – The days of 25,000 points equal to a single coach airline ticket are gone for most airlines. Sure they “advertise” it, but when you try to use them you find out that those tickets are full but if you want you can “upgrade” and use double your points to get what you should have gotten in the first place. Delta Airlines is the king of customer dissatisfaction. Based on my findings I estimate that they provide somewhere between 4-6 seats per flight that are the 25,000 points per ticket. After that you need to use DOUBLE your points for the same ticket. Airlines are probably the worst offenders of any company when it comes to dealing with customers. The level of disgust is enormous in this market!

4) Any company that does mail in rebates – Mail in rebates were invented to charge people with more money a higher cost than those without. That has been the marketing/sales problem for many a company. How do we get the most money out of each customer? The problem is that all it does is make your customers angry. I will always avoid buying a product with a mail in rebate because I find the marketing practive so distasteful. Over the years it has become such a problem with customers that many large retail chain stores like Staples won’t even allow it anymore. If the rebate can’t be taken at the register then don’t even have it. There aren’t many things that makes a customer feel more put out than mail in rebates!

There are obviously more customer relationship issues than what I mentioned above, but those are some that get to me personally. Companies should consider the long term implications of their short term decisions with regard to customers. For some companies it doesn’t matter how they treat the consumer. In return, we should reward these companies by taking our business elsewhere. If company executives would simply ask themselves if they personally would like to deal with/participate/use the products in the manner that they expect their customers to do so that many of these ridiculous practices would be eliminated.

I feel much better now :)

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

26 Responses to “Companies and their customers…”

  1. Here, here on the power adapters! The only one I have seen recently was for the Sirius Stiletto 100 satellite radio, and I was pleased. A good way to overcome this is with a silver Sharpie pen.

    My biggest customer service issue is with voice-response systems. Sure, menu after menu of “press 1 for…” are obnoxious, but the pre-recorded voice that pretends to be human is not, and they can never understand me. One company I recently called gave the option of speaking or pressing a button, which was a good compromise.

  2. Andrew says:

    I buy kids dvds and immediately rip/re-burn them with only the movie on them. I put the original away as a backup and let my kids use the burned copy. It’s a quick and easy way to eliminate those pesky commercials and immediately start the movie.

  3. The ads on DVDs that you can’t skip are terrible. The kids DVDs are the very DVDs I need to be able to skip. There are a few kids DVDs that work the right way and will just start playing. Also, the Baby Einstein DVDs have an option for continuous play which is awesome for longer trips.

  4. Douglas T says:

    The DVD thing drives me nuts. I like the whole movie experience myself. Sitting down to watch a movie, catch a few previews, then the movie. The first time. After that I want to skip that stuff. Kids DVDs are the worst.

  5. daves1997 says:

    Companies and their Customers. Well I have appreciated your honesty in your emails and on your blog. So I will be straightforward also.
    Why would any company take down a server for an upgrade in the middle of the business day? I currently have 7 websites down because you chose to do this. As a former IT guy, we did these things in the middle of the night so that the upgrade would impact less customers.
    Please, Use common sense!

  6. Amen.

    I would like someone to explain to my 3 year old why the movie just doesn’t start like she wants it to. Disney has gotten slightly better with this, but still it isn’t the greatest.

    Also would like to add that I am checking out your hosting service and one of friends directed me to read your blog when she recommended you. I am throughly impressed so far.

  7. Icyone says:

    I agree, I truly dislike mail in rebates. I think they know just how annoying it is to complete one and wait. Then have to email support because it never got sent after waiting the required 8 to 10 week waiting period. It’s just a scam and they know many people will just not submit one or give up or even hopefully forget about it. Advertise the real price please.

  8. P.Wolfe says:

    Preach it! I avoid buying rebated items as well.

    In the last few days I been told by 3 telephone systems that the company I was calling believes ‘your call is very important to us’. Of course we know that if were really that important, they would use the system historical data to determine how many CSRs (customer service reps) to put into the site at the right times.

  9. Rick says:

    I can entirely sympathise Matt, though if you feel customer service is poor in the US, you should try the shoddy service we get in the UK!

    My example is from my car insurer. I’m leaving the country soon on business and selling my car before I go. I rang my insurer to ask if they would simply cancel my policy to be told that not only did I have to pay for postage to return my policy document, but that there would be an “administration fee”.

    So instead I have them still covering my car, even though I don’t own it any more (!) , until May this year as there is no fee for not renewing a policy.

    It is a classic case of them cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  10. Scott Finman says:

    And then there are those of us who like to rant about grammar:

    “Why do companies go out of there way to make customers angry?”

    …that should be ‘their’, not ‘there’.

    :-)

    Feel free to modify and delete this comment.

  11. You know what else makes customers angry? Making changes that affect the customer’s personalized SpamAssassin email filter configuration without the customer’s knowledge. To add insult to injury, Technical Support staff clearly lack the knowledge to understand the issue and when the customer insists on speaking with a Supervisor or even the President of the Company, the customer is told they are “unavailable.” That’s why I left my last Hosting Service.

  12. Wes says:

    Talking about voice-response systems, when you want take up a service its so quick and you wont have to wait for long, but if you have a query or want to cancel then you will have to wait for a long time being told that ‘our customers reps are busy, they will be with you soon’. Its just annoying.

  13. Randy says:

    I was going to write to say what Andrew has already said. It’s a shame you have to break the law (DMCA) in order to do that… But that’s a rant for another day, right?

  14. Noah says:

    I must have a dozen of those power adapters and they are unlabeled. It’s very annoying. What’s even more annoying is that there is so many different power input types for cell phones and other devices even some with the same requirement of volts/etc are different. I’ve been lucky enough to find some that work with each other.

    Mail-in rebates are awkward and they discourage the customer of taking that offer resulting in extra money for the company. It works though.

  15. Ethan says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Especially regarding the mail-in rebates.

    A thing that bugs me is when you go to a movie at a theater, and you have to sit through ten minutes of ads for cars and soft drinks. I mean movie previews, OK fine. They’re part of the show in a way and sort of fun. But I didn’t plunk down $20 so that I and a guest could watch a car commercial. That’s a major reason I rarely go to theaters any more, despite the fact that some movie are best enjoyed on a big screen.

  16. Ben says:

    Personally, I just discovered an interesting trick on how to skip previews yesterday. Interestingly enough, if you wait 15 seconds into the first preview, you can hit menu and skip the rest of the previews as that action is allowed once you’ve started the preview.

  17. Bijan says:

    Actually, a correction on that point about MIR with staples- now we do ‘Easy Online Rebates’ with which you just go online and enter some numbers. Mind you, HP is the only company that gets MIR at staples, and they force us. I hate HP.
    I avoid the DVD problem by downloading dvds. If MPAA is gonna force us to watch ads before the dvd, then i’m just going to pirate them. That and i’m in canada so we do whatever we want :P

  18. [...] … there are those in his own backyard who could provide some valuable insight on this. Be the first to comment! posted on January 30, 2007 @ 4:00 pm by: Dave (http://www.davidmeade.com)   [...]

  19. Kel says:

    Mike, most companies (even if they don’t tell you you can) will actually allow you to press a button corresponding with the order in which they tell you the options…

  20. Steve Karg says:

    Hi Matt,

    Do you know how many companies go out of THEIR way? Your grammer is getting there, and usually top notch!

    Best Regards,

    Steve

  21. Bobert says:

    yeah one of the few that does label the adapters is [surprisingly] Iomega’s zip drives [any one remember those things!! :-)]. i think they don’t label them because you can use them for other things, esp, when you have a drawer full of them, ya start to simply match the output volts and amps and hope the plug physically fits!!

    Amen andrew, on the rip/burn! i do the same thing! let the kiddies scratch up the copies.

    i’ve never been a fan of coupon/rebates/store “savings” cards. i mean come on if you are going to give me a dollar off my jar of peanut butter cause i clipped a piece of square paper out and handed it to the casher, why not just lower the price??? same with like a CVS card. these don’t even cost money to obtain. so why use them. even when you don’t have one the cashier usually takes one off the stack and scans it for you anyway… what’s the point??? why not save the plastic and production cost of these things as well as the additional cost of scanning equipment and just lower the price that 20cents that i’d save by scanning my card.

    rebates are you stupid! …if you even get money back, usually you don’t! gimmick

  22. Bob Cadle says:

    Hello…

    I was linked to your company and am examining what I may do, since I have about ten domains with 1and1, a company that aced GoDaddy when they stopped charging for the private domain registration.

    This was my first thing to find out, which I did just now with a nice young man named Sean, or Shawn. He assured me that 6.95 (or current) included the private registration.

    Then I saw the CEO blog and leaped in here instantly to see what kind of CEO “exampled the show”.

    First, your most recent entry about the fact that merit should be the reason for reward struck the sound of a twenty dollar gold piece in my mind. Wow, here is a straight shootin guy.

    Now I read this rant (mightly soft for a rant, seeing as how I am Irish, so don’t get me started on treason and sell outs and the like)

    Anyway, total agreement. The outsourcing system will find the chickens coming home to roost someday. There is an undersurge in the population to return to quality in service and in product AND in mamners and honor.

    I guess that is because, unlike in Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED, the productive do NOT have a secret place in Colorado to hide and prosper.

    Thanks for skilled writing and honest reflection of what your company must be like.

    Bob

  23. Hans says:

    Something that annoys me: as domain admin not having the right to maintain e-mail addresses of the domain. Somehow I have to know all the passwords. This should be an option for the domain admin to decide, not Bluehost. I’m extremely disappointed in that decision from some months ago. Bluehost is not the only one that does this, but why? Not all hosting services do it. I’m just having a hard time finding one that doesn’t. Must be some law or something. It is extremely annoying. Now I’m repeating myself. Also annoying. I want that feature back!

  24. Juan Jimenez says:

    I have to wonder… how many of these products come from companies where the management truly believes customers should be happy with the kind of treatment or product they get?

    My personal theory is that the globalization of commerce has resulted in people in charge of companies who themselves are used to getting braindead products and service as a norm because of the country/culture they came from. This is why they don’t think twice when it comes to inflicting the same experience on their customers and thinking that’s just fine. It’s similar to the vicious circle of child abuse, IMO. My $0.02…

  25. As a matter of fact, Staples still does the mail-in rebate thing. On Black friday this past year, I wanted to buy a Hard Drive that was advertised as $20. I had $40 cash on me, but was unable to buy the Drive because I would have had to pay $70 cash, and get a $50 mail-in rebate.

  26. Mark J says:

    Yes..that whole rebate process is a big pain. Why does Staples make you mail in a rebate for one of their own products bought in their own store. This has got to be one of the stupidest things I have ever seen put upon the customer. Just lower the darn price for the week instead of causing more trouble and cost offering a mail in rebate. Are this people really that dumb. I realize that some people may skip mailing in the rebate and Staples then makes out…but for the customer looking at sales in the Sunday paper this eventually becomes a turn off. I refuse to participate anymore.

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