Friday, April 23, 2010

Generosity, Verizon & My Mama

At the beginning of this year my mom divulged that her cell phone bill was over $400 a month. She explained that she believed it was due to the fact that she had a family plan with three phones, the number of peak minutes on the plan, unlimited text and internet for one of the phones, and the insurance. I heard her logic and thought… MOM!!! FOUR HUNDERED DOLLARS A MONTH?!

I don’t pay too much attention to the plan options that are out there for Verizon. But I do see many new cell phone company ads and plans on subway cars with unlimited everything for nearly free ninety-nine. So I was appalled. She asked what she could do about it. I told her, “No! I’m calling these m*tha%@ck&#s!” Well, I didn’t actually curse - but I wanted to.

When I got to a customer service agent (because we all know it could be a long wait), he seemed pleasant enough. I explained that I felt my mother was being robbed every 13th of the month and that I planned to find another cell phone carrier if by the end of the call if I didn’t get the rate down to a reasonable price. As a customer for over 10 years, she deserved some platinum care – especially since she was clearly putting generations of Verizon employees’ children through college.

Turns out he’s originally from Brooklyn, living in the Midwest for a job. A job! (That’s a whole other blog.) And he was more than happy to give me a “hook up.” (The reality is I’ll never know if it was or not.) I was able to trim her monthly bill - without cutting minutes – by $100. And in another month, my mom was able to get unlimited peak minutes and texting without it costing her another dime. I know, I know, $300 is still insane. But until I can figure out how to get it even lower, she can start putting that $100 a month into some socially conscious mutual fund.

Imagine if the moment there was a better package that suited my mom’s needs, a Verizon customer care agent gave her a ring and informed her?... Some say that’s wishful thinking. I say it’s just plain smart. They’d have a customer who wouldn’t even think of using another cell phone carrier (unless the service was really bad). And their customers would rave about the company, shutting out all their competitors.

I think I’m going to send this blog to someone at Verizon. Maybe they’ve read Good to Great by Jim Collins or Linchpin by Seth Godin and would be willing to look at how they can step their behemoth brand up a notch.

True customer service – what a novel idea.