Sunday, October 09, 2005

Loyalty is for wimps

A great deal of nonsense is talked about ‘loyalty’. Stuff like: the 50-plus are more loyal than the young. The behaviour behind ‘loyalty’ is most often determined by it not being worth the effort to change. Some might label this as laziness. In reality it is a reflection of our society where most of us are rushing around like lunatics and unless a product or service is really causing us grief we continue to buy.

Too many companies rely on this condition. Most of their marketing effort goes into gaining new customers and to hell with the existing ones.

This note from an old friend beautifully describes this condition.

I have a mobile phone. As a desk bound manager, I use it more for domestic and family purposes than for business and am thus a relatively light user. Text messages have passed me by. Middle aged eyesight, stiffening thumbs and the sheer tedium of keying in the message make this a most unattractive communications option.

A couple of years ago T-Mobile made me at an unsolicited offer of a loyalty bonus provided I stayed with them for a further two years. This I accepted and for the past two years I have enjoyed a £7 50 reduction in my monthly bill. We all know that all good things must end eventually and two months ago the honeymoon ended.

From previous encounters with the T-Mobile call centre (where "unexpected call volumes have given rise to waiting times in excess of 10 minutes" for the past two years) I made my coffee, settled down in the study with the speakerphone and a magazine and called them. Eventually having negotiated the options of the options of the options I asked the human being what other offers were available since I was not going to pay my restored high charges.

Clearly, this was not a question that had been anticipated by his script and thus I was directed to the T-Mobile site where I could browse at my leisure. Undeterred, I laid before him what should have been my attractions to his company as a customer: reliable, prompt payer, only one handset upgrade in seven years, e-billing, etc. I might as well have been talking Martian!

Two days later, in the middle of a rather good evening programme on television, an enthusiastic salesman called to try and persuade me to change to T-mobile and to take advantage of their amazing free high-tech phone, camera, bottle opener and all year round barbecue.

I have a perfectly serviceable handset. I come from an age where throwing away working electronics can only be done when no one is watching. I have been a good customer but thanks to their completely inappropriate responses, but for T-Mobile not much longer. Maybe they don't care? The £3000 I have spent with them over the past few years is nothing compared to the riches on offer from those two generations after me.

The final straw - goodbye T-Mobile


Having made up my mind to get rid of T-Mobile, I found myself parking next to a Carphone Warehouse whilst visiting my local retail park. No time like the present so in I go. Charming young lady finds me a better tariff with Vodafone plus a new handset which I do not need. (You try getting the cash instead!). All I need to do is ask T-Mobile for some serial number or other.

Time for the options of the options of the options again. I decide to report a lost or stolen handset and what do you know, immediate response. I ask for the serial number in question and when asked why I want it, am immediately transferred to a customer services manager who immediately offers me and even better deal plus a £10 a month discount if I sign up for a further year. I did!

With age and wisdom comes the understanding that Vodafone are rather unlikely to be much better than T-Mobile; and, I've already cut too much off my nose to be able to afford to spite my face further.

The moral? Scrap logic. No more Mr Nice Guy. My relationship means nothing unless I intend to sever it. Threats work better than reason.
Dick Stroud


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