A Jacksonville, FL, woman got a nasty surprise when she went to buy medication for her sick child: no money in her bank account where nearly $1000 should be. Turns out that DirecTV had taken nearly $800 out of her account for an early cancellation fee because she referred a friend to the service who died a few months later. Countless phone calls to the company were all for naught, and it took throwing a local television station’s consumer protection crew onto the scent to get higher ups to notice and fix the problem.
While the money has since been returned to the woman, it’s likely that when her friend was signing up with whatever telemarketing firm they use, the people on the other end clicked “co-signer” instead of “referrer.” The low level workers handling her call probably didn’t have the power or experience to even consider such an option, and she didn’t know how to escalate it.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s a step by step solution to navigating the labyrinth of customer service:
1: Demand a supervisor.
2: If the supervisor is unhelpful, then threaten to call corporate
3: Make good on that threat, and don’t stop until you get a vice president on the line.
4: 1% of the time, if that doesn’t work, a local newspaper, TV station, or the internet will take up your cause and help you get it resolved
And the most important, bonus and unskippable step:
Listen to what they tell you, process it and consider it, because there is a chance you’re mistaken and/or in the wrong. Treat everyone you get like you would treat your own brother, and people will want to help you get your problem solved. Yelling or making threats in anger is the fastest path to the circular file. Good luck, and keep your head.