Odd Approach to Customer Service

Recently, I allowed myself to get sucked in by a “trial offer” that combinedcolonmed700 the Pure Acai Berry we’ve been hearing so much about from Oprah and a product called Colon 700.

You know the offer. Buy now and pay only shipping. If you like the product, we’ll bill you the normal price of …whatever…and deliver the product to your door automatically each month until you tell us to stop.

This is a common sales tactic used on the internet and technically there is nothing wrong with it. The company has something to sell so they throw out a teaser offer. The offer almost always includes a fairly low financial barrier to entry and they tell you can cancel or return the product if you don’t like it at any time. Always sounds great.

The problem is that most of the time the terms are confusing. In the case of the products I ordered, I didn’t realize they would be coming from two different places and two different companies, which then meant two different bills down the road. Both are pretty expensive for a monthly supply of products I’m not convinced I’ll use. I decide to cancel the Colon 700 first.

Customer service or the lack thereof is a hot button for me. You can read the contents of the email exchange I had with the company when canceling my ColonMed order. Is it just me or is the person a bit hostile even though I’ve admitted that I blew it.

On 1/9/09, Barbara Giamanco <barb@talentbuildersinc.com> wrote:

I didn’t realize when I did the trial that I was also agreeing to be billed for more shipments every month. My mistake. Please cancel this immediately!! I did try to use the online service. Said it couldn’t find me. Not sure why.

Sent: Friday, January 09, 2009 3:29 PM
To: barb@talentbuildersinc.com
Subject: Re: Cancel my order

You received a charge of $88.97 because you did not cancel your account within the allowed 15 day trial period, as stated in our terms and conditions that you are required to read before purchasing. As stated in the terms and conditions, you have 15 days from your trial order to cancel or you will be sent another fresh 30 day supply of Colonmed700 for a total of $88.97.

This is a continuity program for customers who like the product. Any customer who cancels within that 15 day period is removed from the continuity auto-shipment program and does not receive any further charges or shipments. Here is a direct link to our order page which contains the terms and conditions on the page above the Order button (http://www.colonmed700.com/order.aspx). Please be advised that your order would not have been processed unless you agreed and accepted the terms and conditions.

You were canceled so you will not receive any more products and will not incur any further charges from us.

Barb says: OK, interesting service approach…slap down the customer with a reminder of how stupid you think they are.

Telling me that the product wouldn’t have shipped if I had canceled within the 15 day trial period isn’t helpful, especially since I’d already admitted that I made a mistake. My only request was to cancel future shipments. So I respond with…

On 1/9/09, Barbara Giamanco <barb@talentbuildersinc.com> wrote:

Indeed – I know why I was charged and was not complaining. Your form letter – fyi – isn’t very customer friendly. I realize I missed the fine print…said so in my email. I just realized that I needed to stop “future” shipments. Thanks a bunch. I see that you did that.

Sincerely,

Barb

Barb says: I would have thought that was the end of it, but imagine my surprise when I received the following email response. Now I can’t swear to it, but I think someone has a bit of an attitude problem.

Sent: Friday, January 09, 2009 5:34 PM
To: barb@talentbuildersinc.com
Subject: Re: Cancel my order

The terms and conditions, which you were required to read and accept upon ordering clearly explained how the program works. If the terms and conditions were not agreed to, the website WOULD NOT process your order. We have thousands of customers who actually read these terms and conditions and either cancel their membership within the allowed time period, or choose to keep the product for many months.

Since you did not cancel your trial membership within the 15 day allowed time period, what I can do for you is to let you keep the (2) bottles and give you a refund of $34.99, which would be half of the total you were charged, minus shipping charges since we cannot refund those.

Barb says: Telling me that “thousands of people actually read the terms” is not very customer friendly. I said I goofed up! Just cancel the damn thing already. I’m getting a refund out of the deal even though I didn’t ask for it. That’s something. But heck, what’s the problem do you think? This guy was pretty caught up in “defending” himself even though I wasn’t asking him to do anything other than cancel future orders.

But this little incident is indicative of what’s wrong with so many customer service situations. Companies are quick to defend and very, very slow to listen. What they’ve forgotten is it is not about them. With an economic tightening of the belt, maybe it’s about time they remember.

As a side note…I googled this product and have since found a number of complaints about the business practices of this company. Maybe they have a reason to be defensive after all:)

Comments

  1. says

    This is hysterical! Thanks for sharing. I can’t believe these kinds of “sales” tactics work! What I do know is that over time we still do not know how to sell our products. If you watch the shopping channel, you’ll see thousands of products that look pretty interesting. They offer their products at a special reduced rate and then cut them even further when they offer two for one! How do they make money?

    Here’s how. I heard last night from someone who actually called one of those 1-800 numbers. She said once she gave them her order and credit card number, they tried to sell her something else. She said, no thanks. This went on and on and on. Finally she had to hang up on them. Please!

    My question is why do so many companies participate in these tactics? Maybe we need to start talking about these things on our social networks to protect one another from falling into such traps. What do you think?

  2. Barbara Giamanco says

    Thanks Joan for your comment!

    I guess the tactics usually work, because we want to feel like we can try something to be sure it works for us. The problem is in trying to “cancel”. That’s where you usually have trouble if the company isn’t quite on the up and up. Interesting enough, canceling the Acai Berry product was no problem at all. I sent the email saying please cancel. They did and that was that.

    As for the Colon 700…

    -The guy wasn’t listening to me. I admitted the mistake from the beginning. No need to basically call me an idiot.

    -I didn’t ask for them to refund anything. Again, I already knew that I goofed. I was being responsible for my own mistake. He says I’m getting back money anyway, although it has not materialized in my bank account, so I won’t hold my breath.

    -Telling me that other people “actually read” the information was beyond the idea of being customer friendly. And it’s probably not true anyway. I know I am not the only one who doesn’t read every single line of the legal mumbo-jumbo they put out there.

    And what I didn’t say is that they also managed to ship my product to me 10 days into the 15 day trial. Hum..

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