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The Art of Getting Over

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by Milton, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. Milton

    Milton Senior Member

    Joined: May 21, 2003 Messages: 2,253 Likes Received: 0

    Milton is back from a year of law-school and an extremely easy summer job that left me with a lot of time to figure out how to get major corporations to do what I want.

    It was a warm Wednesday morning in July, the birds chirpping, the sun shining. The splitting headache from a fiasco the night before was slowly waning as the energy from a cup of potent brazilian roast kicked in. My clothes were in a pile at the foot of my bed. I reached into my pocket for a cigarette and my cell-phone to see if work had called. And to my utter astonishment, my phone was nowhere to be found. It seemed that in the prior nights debaucle, my phone was stolen, dropped, or given to a strange woman. In any event I was phoneless. No sweat I thought, I'll have an insurance policy on the phone, I'll get all of it sorted out in time to catch the next bus to work. The time is 10:15 AM.

    I call cingular from the payphone outside of my apartment building. Cingular informs me to call lockline insurance. Lockline insurance says they have no record of any insurance on the phone, they transfer me back to Cingular. Cingular says they have no record of any insurance and that it is my problem. The time is 11:35 AM. I make a decision, not only will I get my phone back, I will talk them into upgrading me to a better phone.

    I call Cingular again, they say they have no record of any insurance on my contract and that the authorized agent "probably ripped me off." I hang up. I find the authorized agent's number online, and call them. They assure me that I have insurance and that I should call cingular. I call cingular who transfers me to lockline insurance who transfers me back to cingular who is unhelpful. The time is 1:15 PM.

    I think of a plan of action and call Cingular back. Here is the course of our conversation.

    Milton: Hello
    Service: Hello, can I help you?
    Milton: I hope so. I lost my cellphone, I purchased insurance with the cellphone, no I'm being told I have no insurance. Is there anything you can do?
    Service: Sure, I'll transfer you to lockline, please hold.
    Milton: No, do not transfer me to lockline, let me speak to your manager.
    Manager: Hello, what seems to be the problem.
    Milton: I've been on the phone with you all for the past 3 hours, that is the first problem. The second problem is that I purcahsed insurance with my phone, I would like for someone to make good on it.
    Manager: I'm sorry sir, did you purchase the phone from a cingular store?
    Milton: Yes, from a Kiosk store, I found it on your website.
    Manager: Your record shows that it wasn't a Cingular store, but an authorized agent?
    Milton: So, what are you telling me?
    Manager: Your insurance is between you and them.
    Miltion: But you said they were Cingular's agent?
    Manager: Yes...
    Milton: So Cingular the company is going to make good on the agreement right?
    Manager: I'm sorry to be rude sir, but like I told you, this is your problem?
    Milton: Let me talk to your supervisor...
    Manager: I don't have a supervisor sir.
    Milton: So you're a freelance customer support manager?
    Manager: No, I have a team leader, but he's not here.
    Milton: Let me talk to his supervisor...
    Manager: He isn't here either.
    Milton: Listen, I'm getting tired of this shit. I know that you are not the highest ranking Cingular official in the office today, so whoever is a person with more authority than you transfer me to them...
    Manager: Cynthia my team coordinator is joining the line...
    Cynthia: Hello Mr. Milton, I hear that you are having some trouble.
    Milton: A great deal of trouble. I've been calling you, your insurance, your authorized agent for the past three hours. I am no longer going to call anyone. You and I are going to take care of this right now.
    Cynthia: I don't know what I can do, your account shows no insurance. You could be lying about the insurance. Like we have told you, this is your problem not ours.
    Milton: Excuse me?
    Cynthia: I don't mean to be argumentative, but this is not our issue.
    Milton: Thats exactly what you're fucking and let me tell you: this IS your issue. I'll tell you why. Your "authorized agent" sold me insurance, whatever deal your agent enters into Cingular the company enters into, period.
    Cynthia: I'm sorry, but thats not the law --
    Milton: -- Oh, you're a contracts lawyer, tell me how it is then...
    Cynthia: If I go into Wal-mart to buy a pair of Levis, I don't entere into a contract with Levis.
    Milton: Is there a sign outside the store that says "Official Levis store?" Do you sign a "Levi's contract?"

    2:30 Pacific Daylight Time. I will have my new phone.
  2. dead sentiment

    dead sentiment Member

    Joined: Nov 29, 2004 Messages: 422 Likes Received: 0
  3. spectr

    spectr Guest

    lol cingular sucks i lost my phone in west virgina this summer and i had to go all the way back to the bay to get a new one becuase they wouldnt ship to anywhere off the billing addy etc etc i couldnt check my voicemail for 3 months becuase i needed my cell to do it etc i had so many drunk angry conversations with them they must have a file on me. its all about just asking the people who get on the phone if they have a manager or co-worker who they dont like whose day you would like to ruin. prepare for lots of bitching for hours with them
  4. Milton

    Milton Senior Member

    Joined: May 21, 2003 Messages: 2,253 Likes Received: 0
    THE ART:

    Know your enemy:
    The major corporation of the 21st century operates in a very particular way. They are the monolith of modern times. An impenetrable mass that very few have been able to conquer. They are arranged intentionally to keep the customer as far from those in control as possible. Have you ever wondered how long Dell puts its corporate customers on hold. 30 seconds or less. I tried putting random customer care numbers in once and happened upon “military support.� Zero wait time, immediate response. They have the resources to resolve your issue immediately, anyone who tells you differently is lying to you.
    The major corporation will placate you and give you the run around until you make clear that it is going to cost them more to deal with you than to give you what you want. But you cannot convince them of this by arguing with customer service. I will tell you this, take it or leave it: no one in the customer service office, outside of perhaps the highest level supervisor can do anything that is not scripted on a 100-page or less online manual. Therefore, if you need actual services you have to go a different route. Regular customer services is a front. It is their infantry, their pawns. They put those people into the fray to delay you from fixing your problem long enough that you give up.

    Beating them at their own game: A few tips for getting over
    1. Write everything down: At least to start, write down the names of people in customer service that you speak with and what was said. They have all of this in their records, so should you. You need to arm yourself adequately for when you actually talk to someone who can resolve your problem. Take special note of the people who are unnecessarily rude/abusive on the phone. You will make those people pay soon enough.
    2. Don’t give them anything on you: You might want to swear at them, in fact, I do this all the time. But never threaten them, never say anything that could get you in any serious trouble. You need to be squeaky clean so that if Debbie in HR comes down on Suzie in customer service, Suzie can’t say “that bad man said he was going to cut my face off.� If you’re going to yell at them, make sure they’re being legitimately argumentative first.
    3. Catching more flies: Be nice to the first few people you talk to. On the off chance that somebody has some real authority and can help you out. If you’re mean right off the bat you lose this potential opportunity. Never be mean to anyone who first answers the phone. These people are secretaries, don’t fuck with them, they can’t help it. Wait for them to be rude before you go off on them. After waiting on hold, you really want to yell at someone. The time will come.
    4. Never argue with anyone more than twice: Make your point, if they disagree try to convince them once and once only, engaging them in an argument increases the risk that a) they won’t help you even if they can, and b) they hang up and you have to wait on hold another hour. When the situation becomes argumentative ask to be transferred to a manager. (A note on hold, they want to keep you on hold, because they could care less about losing an individuals business. The longer you’re on hold the better the odds that you’ll give up.)
    5. I don’t have a manager is never an excuse: They always have a manager, insist on talking to them. They’re supposed to say they don’t, but if you press them they have to.
    6. Never give ground: If you know that you’re in the right, never say anything to the contrary. Never agree with them. If they can point to an instance where you agreed, all is lost, you have no leverage.
    7. Leave, ambiguously: If you can’t get through to them on the phone, leave things ambiguous. “You’ll be hearing from me,� or “We’ll have to resolve this later� work well. Leave the door open to further action.

    Doing the deed: You’re going to need to do one of two things. Usually you will write a letter to someone in charge demanding what you want. Other times you will be able to call someone.
    1) Gather information: You have a list of things that you have discussed and the people you discussed them with, this is a start. Now the fun part begins. Research the company. Go on consumer complaint websites to try to find a “corporate contact� or “head of HR,� “head of customer relations� etc. Any of these will do. Also, look over your contract and make sure you are certain of all of the facts, and what you are entitled to. Most of them have an arbitration clause. Finally, look on Google for their corporate information and write down names of key officials so that if worse comes to worse you can look these people up online and call them personally.
    2) Drafting:
    A) have an idea in mind of what you want. Keep it reasonable, in my case I wanted to upgrade phones and have my insurance refunded. Do not demand more than what you want. This is not an arms length negotiation. If they think you’re a jackass who doesn’t know what he wants and what he can get, they’ll tell you to shove it.
    B) compose your arguments. You should have two sets of arguments, 1) why you deserve something, and; 2) Why what you’re asking is reasonable. Your argument about what you deserve doesn’t need to be extremely technical as long as it is understandable and well reasoned. Saying something like “I’ve been with XYZ Corp. for 10 years and have done a great deal of business with you, therefore it is only fair that you accommodate me on this...� is sufficient. If you want to get really technical look up law on the topic you’re discussing and throw in a few legal terms. This really fucks with them. Your second argument should explain why what you’re asking for is reasonable under the circumstances.
    C) your demands are dogshit unless you can back them up. You have to make it clear that you will take them to arbitration or small claims if they don’t make an effort to resolve it. Say you have discussed the matter with counsel. Also, say that you are making a final good faith effort to resolve the matter. But remember, they would rather deal with you than have you make a fuss, so the more you are aggressive, the more they will give you what you want.
    D) the people who were especially rude. It is good to point them out in your arguments as reason for them to accommodate you. After all the people who were rude to you gave them a bad image. And if it were exposed that they had people working for them that were like that it could be bad news. If you are particularly angry, demand apologies from them as well. Let the company know how their people are behaving.
    Putting it together: The letter should go like this.
    Paragraph 1: (Introduction)Your name and a brief summary of your issue. Brief summary of what you’ve done to resolve it, and your results. The fact that you’ve spoken with counsel and the fact that this is your last effort to make a deal before pursuing other remedies.
    Paragraph 2: (Facts) Detail the facts of your case, what happened, why are you upset. Who has been mean and why?
    Paragraph 3: (Argument 1) Elaborate the argument as to why those facts give you the right to demand accommodation. (Be reasonable, just because Becky in housewares was short with you doesn’t mean you get a free coffee table.)
    Paragraph 4: (Explicit demand) Tell them in no uncertain terms what it is that you want.
    Paragraph 5: (Argument 2) Explain why your demands are reasonable, and required.
    Paragraph 6: (Conclusion) Again stress that you are making a good faith effort to resolve the matter.

    Sending the damn thing:
    You must strike deep in the heart of this beast to slay it. Send it the highest person you could find. CC it to anyone important. They key is finding someone who can pass it on to the correct people. This is the key to getting things done. It only takes a few minutes worth of time on google to find the right people, so do it. Make sure the letter is legible, in proper English etc. Your chance of success goes down substantially for every LOL or smilie in the email.

    The phone call:
    So you have customer service’s number, or you have to resort to calling an official at home. This should be your LAST resort. Call during normal business hours. Prepare a summary of your issue and base the conversation off of that. Be very cordial, these are not the customer service goons, these people have some real power to get things done. Don’t argue with them, tell them that you need some help, and you’re sure XYZ Corp, will go the extra mile to help a customer. Apologize for bothering them.
    If you are forced to leave a message, have something written down ahead of time. Leave all of the information necessary to look up your file and to contact you.
    Don’t call back after the first time, calling someone at home is borderline harassment as it is.
  5. Milton

    Milton Senior Member

    Joined: May 21, 2003 Messages: 2,253 Likes Received: 0

    Time 5:37 PM Pacific Standard Time

    My letter is complete:
    I begin with the facts of my issue. In November, 2004, I transferred my service from AT&T Wireless to Cingular, per the suggestion of a Cingular representative. In order to do so I visited a Cingular 'authorized agent,' the name and location of which I found on the Cingular website. This retailer was referred to as a "Cingular Wireless" kiosk store in the Sea-Tac mall in Washington State. The telephone number of this dealer is (XXX)XXX-XXXX, should you like to contact them directly. I purchased a new phone, Motorola V551 for $149.99. I am informed that the retail price of such phone ranges from $99.99 to $249.99. Additionally at the point of purchase I was informed by a Cingular agent that I could purchase a prepaid insurance policy for the life of my contract. I took the opportunity to purchase a "Valu-pak Platinum" insurance policy for $59.99. I was informed by the agent that I needed simply to call in for a replacement of lost, stolen or damaged hardware. My purchase of said insurance was confirmed on July 30, 2005 by a Cingular agent at the point-of-purchase.
    On July, 26, 2005 I lost my cellular phone. On July 27, 2005, I attempted to contact customer service via a Cingular store near my new home in Los Angeles, California. I called Lock/Line from this location and was informed that I had no insurance on record. I talked to an agent in this store who informed me that I may have been "ripped-off" by the agent at the Washington store. As I have had no prior problems with Cingular, I gave Cingular the benefit of the doubt and called customer service. The customer service representative with whom I spoke confirmed that I had no insurance on record with Cingular. I was told that I needed to contact the store directly and did so. At this point a manager informed me that I did, in fact, have an insurance policy and I was told to contact Lock/Line who again stated that they had no record of such. I again, called customer service and asked to speak to a manager. At this point the manager insinuated that I was lying about purchasing insurance. I asked to speak to his supervisor and was told that no such person was available. After repeated requests, he transferred me to someone who claimed to be a supervisor of his department. This supervisor was patently argumentative with me on the phone and disclaimed all responsibility. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that the issue was my problem, and refused to take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. Two days following this encounter I called customer service again, the representative contacted the location where I purchased my phone. At this time the agent at that location indicated that they did not have record of any insurance on my contract.
    As I attempted to explain to the supervisor of customer service, this is indeed, not "my problem." In fact, Washington state law has a substantial amount of precedent on this issue. The point-of-purchase was, at the very least, an ostensible or implied agent of Cingular. Per Matsumura v. Eilert, 74 Wash.2d 362, 368, agency exists where the facts either directly or by inference " establish that one person is acting at the instance of and in some material degree under the direction and control of the other." Moreover, Lamb v. General Associates, Inc., 60 Wash.2d 623, 628, clearly indicates that "[a] principal may be estopped to deny that his agent possesses the authority he assumes to exercise, where the principal knowingly causes or permits him so to act as to justify a third person of ordinarily careful and prudent business habits to believe that he possesses the authority exercised, and avails himself of the benefit of the agent's acts ."
    I am sure that there is no dispute on this matter as Cingular took steps not only to permit the store to act in such a way as to justify reasonable persons in believing that the store and that it's employees were agents acting under the authority of, and for the benefit of Cingular; but took steps to encourage and validate this belief. First, the store was, and is referenced on Cingulars website as a "Cingular Wireless" store. The phone number and address, as well as a map to this location are on the website. This leads to the reasonable and valid inference that Cingular encouraged patrons of the Cingular Website to visit this Cingular Wireless store. Does it not? If a patron did visit the website and thus saw the location of the store and followed the mapped directions to the store, what would they discover? They would find, as I did, a kiosk store with a large bright orange sign reading Cingular Wireless. Moreover, they would find a store that sold only Cingular phones and Cingular service. They would find pleasant and professional salesmen in Cingular nametags. These salesmen would be filing data into Cingular's database, and signing Cingular contracts emblazoned with the Cingular logo. Does this not indicate to the reasonable buyer that they are engaged in a transaction authorized by Cingular? What's more, when I contacted customer service regarding this issue the salesmen were referred to as "authorized agents" and identified according to their "agent number."
    Assuming that the salesman who sold me the insurance was not "ripping me off," and also assuming that he was acting under Cingular's authority, an assumption I feel very safe in making for the reasons listed above; where does this leave us? The Cingular salesman indicated to me that I was purchasing insurance through Cingular which would cover me for loss, theft or damage to my cellular handset. Moreover, Cingular's "authorized agent" indicated to me that I would need only to place a phone call to Cingular in order to quickly and efficiently process my claim. In doing so, the "authorized agent" and I entered an oral contract whereby I would pay $59.99 as consideration for his promise that Cingular would quickly and efficiently process my insurance claim and replace my lost, stolen or damaged cellular device. Contrary to the contention of Cingular personnel, a salesman cannot "say whatever he wants." Instead, an agent, your authorized agent, entered into an oral agreement with me which he, and Cingular, are bound by law to uphold. The agreement was for quick and efficient replacement of lost, stolen or damaged hardware. As stated before, determining which third party my insurance was sold to and processing the claim is not "my problem." Instead Cingular is bound to uphold the contract which was entered into in November 2004, the valid and legally binding contract to quickly and efficiently replace my lost handset.
    It is in my best interest, as well as yours, to settle this matter quickly and without resorting to litigation. However, despite repeated attempts to resolve the issue, such a solution has not yet been offered me by Cingular personnel. Therefore, I propose a solution which I am positive will be beneficial to both sides and will result in the issue being resolved as quickly as possible. I ask that you simply: 1) refund the purchase price of the "Valu-Pak Platinum" insurance, $59.99; 2) Allow me to purchase a new device at the upgrade price versus the retail price, and; 3) place me on Cingular's Lock/Line insurance plan for which I am happy to pay the going rate of $3.99 per month. I find this to be a fair and equitable resolution of my issue for the following reasons. First, I firmly believe in the honest business practices of Cingular and am certain that I was not intentionally "ripped off" at the point-of-purchase. However, I find myself without usable insurance coverage. Therefore, it is only fair that I be repaid the cost of an insurance policy which is patently useless to me at this point, and which I have not used previously. Second, I have been with Cingular for nine months and have paid my monthly bill on time and without event. Furthermore, I was a prudent and responsible customer of AT&T wireless before that. I am happy with my service package and have no intention of leaving Cingular in the near future. As a result of my lengthy and continued business with Cingular I am due for a device upgrade in November. I am simply asking you to allow me to purchase a device at an upgrade price which will be offered to me in three months anyway. Finally, I am more than happy to pay for services I receive. I am willing to pay the $3.99 monthly cost for the insurance I believed I was purchasing to begin with. It is not as if I am trying to get something for nothing, I am only trying to get what I paid, and am willing to pay, my hard earned money to receive. I am positive that you will find this compromise just and equitable, and at the very minimum a small price to pay in order to keep a good customer with a good company.
    With my sincerest thanks and hope for a beneficial resolution,

    10:46 AM Thursday:
    My phone rings at work. Michele from Cingular. The agent has taken full responsibility and is accommodating all demands.

    The black Razr is mine.

    "I'm the definition of it..."


    I open for questions, comment...
  6. MrChupacabra

    MrChupacabra 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Oct 10, 2001 Messages: 10,940 Likes Received: 683
    What am i going to gain by reading this novel of a thread?

    Edit: from the responses, it seems that your lengthy posts are intelligent. In that case, i'll give it a read when my head doesnt feel like its being smashed by vice grips.
  7. Abracadabra

    Abracadabra Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Dec 28, 2001 Messages: 22,906 Likes Received: 113
    haha, the letter you wrote was hilarious. as soon as you busted out the lawyer talk i can just imagine the look on the face of the person reading it. being someone who works for an insurance company i get a great deal of pleasure out of the little guy making good, even though it's what i'm supposed to be working against
  8. Big Bruno

    Big Bruno Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 8, 2001 Messages: 2,472 Likes Received: 70
    Good form. Very good form.
  9. dumy

    dumy Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 8, 2004 Messages: 5,056 Likes Received: 0
    glad to see you're putting the education to good use.
  10. Milton

    Milton Senior Member

    Joined: May 21, 2003 Messages: 2,253 Likes Received: 0
    Cingular: In order to get them to pay the insurance you need to email their "corporate services." If you email me through 12oz I can forward you the email.

    Banks, generally: You have to go into the branch location where you started the account. From there you can basically change anything on your account like not allowing it to overdraw, not allowing them to place holds, etc. I had to go off on the bank too so they would quit putting holds on my acct.

    In general just demand whatever you want within reason and give no ground until someone is willing to resolve the issue, then you can compromise.
  11. fermentor666

    fermentor666 Veteran Member

    Joined: Sep 27, 2003 Messages: 8,152 Likes Received: 15
    Never forget the Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org

    Or your Attorney General's office.
  12. I.C.Shadow

    I.C.Shadow Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 9, 2004 Messages: 1,190 Likes Received: 1

    I was unaware there were two posts...

    My original posting

    Cingular did the EXACT SAME SHIT to me. I went into a bright orange Cingular building and got a phone from them. My phone broke, and when I tried to get cingular to replace it they said that I got it from a authorized retailer and not from the Cingular company. Note, this is not a kiosk, but a building devoted to cingular service and phones. I siad then I'd like to cancel my service, they said ok, but the agent has a 300 dollar termination fee and cingular itself had a 150 dollar termination fee. I ended up just paying for service without a phone for the next 4 months cause it was cheaper than terminating my account. FUCK THESE PEOPLE. It's wrong how they take advantage of people like that. I'm a student not a millionare, I can't afford these fees.

    On another note. Sovereign Bank. My brother cashed a check i wrote him without seeing if I had the funds. The check bounced and it cost me a 30 dollar fee. I went to the ATM the same day to take out cash,unknowing that money had been removed via my check. My account was at -57.00 dollars, I took out 100 bringing it to -157.00 dollars. Plus ANOTHER FUCKING 30 DOLLAR FEE. (Not once did the atm ask if I would like to overdraw my account) I had thr funds the previous day." Not once did it tell me of a fine. I always assumed that an atm would not let you take out the cash if you didn't have the funds. Now they do, but they charge you 30 bucks. All and all Im out 60 bucks of my own fucking money due to trickery by the bank.

    Corporate america is fucking us on so many levels, it's a matter of time before we pick up our tourches and storm the mother fucking gates.
  13. TresOne

    TresOne Member

    Joined: May 23, 2002 Messages: 447 Likes Received: 2
    Hats off, that shit is top notch.

    Telus has been jerking me around with my phone for the last 6 months, easily. My phone doesn't receive or send calls if you're inside a building of any kind. Text messages (that I pay for, per message received and sent) don't make it in to or out from my phone. Calls, when properly connected (you have to standing outside, away from any tall buildings) get dropped at completely random times (even when signal strength is full), and often the phone doesn't ring when the ringer's set on 'high and vibrate'.

    Telus won't do shit - and wouldn't do shit even when the phone was still under warranty. They're fucking thieves. I might have to take a closer look at this letter of yours for some ideas, and send one off to the Telus bitches.

    Fucking cell phone companies.. nothing worse.
  14. mr.yuck

    mr.yuck Veteran Member

    Joined: May 12, 2000 Messages: 6,952 Likes Received: 6
    Yeah. I have been getting the run around from a cell phone company and a collection agency that cant even prove i was ever a customer for going on 3 years now. They are all terrible pieces of shit.
  15. shameless self promotion

    shameless self promotion 12oz Legend

    Joined: Mar 7, 2001 Messages: 16,307 Likes Received: 114