Los Angeles, CA
Big businesses with shady policies generate millions of dollars a year because of your laziness, stupidity, apathy, and fear of confrontation. That's why so many companies with a prominent web presence make you call them up to sever your relationship with them. It's in their benefit to make it as easy and quick as possible to take your money with the Internet, but they'll never want to give you that same instant access if you want to ditch them, especially for a competitor.
What they didn't know that I was a former Jedi warrior on the phones. I've done almost every type of high-pressure phone sales including the pitching bonds and stocks in the big leagues. I've also worked the phones for real estate scams, club memberships, my college's alumni fund, and even a pyramid scheme when I lived in Seattle.
I'm well versed at being able to read the person on the end of the phone very quickly, plus I know how to really hotbox someone. I haven't done it in years, relying on passive-aggressive emails instead, mainly because I'm too lazy to get into my Boiler Room character. But it only took a few seconds before I was back in the swing of things.
I knew that there would be three or four different lines of defenses that I needed to get through before I could cancel my subscription to TiVo. Actually, it's not even mine. It's my brother's but I had purchased the service five years ago (almost to the day) when I moved to Las Vegas for work. I bought a TiVo at the time in order to record some of the shows that I'd miss while away for the summer. Little did I know that that assignment would be a springboard to a career in the poker industry and that I'd spend the better part of four years constantly on the road. Whenever I returned from a journey, I sat on my brother's couch and caught up on programs that I missed.
Five years later, my brother wanted to ditch TiVo for a DVR with his cable company -- for something more modern and cheaper. Fine with me, considering that I was paying for the service every month on my American Express card. All I had to do was cancel the subscription, but as you'll soon discover, the TiVo people didn't make it easy.
The first line of defense was the ambiguous website itself. There's no flashbanners going off or quick links to CANCEL SUBSCRIPTION. I don't even bother trying to navigate the site because I knew I'd get a dead end. I simply hit the search engines. Within one click I found a forum which detailed the exact steps to cancel my account. There were no quick links to go to because I discovered that I had call them up and get a live operator on the phone -- who will do and say everything possible to persuade you not cancel your subscription. Luckily someone else posted this info, so I totally knew what was coming. I prepped for a verbal spat with a sales rep. Notice that I didn't say customer service rep, because these companies fill those positions with hardened salesmen. They have one directive -- do not let the customer leave.
I mentally prepped myself for a jousting match on the phone. I concocted a "cover story" why I did not need their service anymore, nearly foolproof, so that they had no angles to pursue. And if they still would not relent, I had the ultimate weapon -- the ability to deny the charges on my credit card. I actually pulled that dick move a few years ago with a different company when some slithery asshole on the other end kept running around and trying to get me to re-up with. I told him that if he didn't cancel my subscription (for the 10th time I asked), then I would simply call up my credit card company and deny any future charges. I would then have him personally prosecuted for credit card fraud because I specifically stated ten times that he no longer as authority to process future charges. I knew it was a total bullshit bluff, but he got scared. He finally gave in. Sometimes you gotta play hardball with these slimy fuckers.
Anyway, I was expecting an outsourced customer service rep or some slick cokehead former used car salesman. And, I was pleasantly surprised to have a young woman as my rep (obviously an American and according to the accent, somewhere from the South). Young white women are much easier to sweet talk.
Within five seconds of telling her that I wished to cancel, she tried to up-sell me. Hah, I already saw it coming. I told her no thanks, please let's go ahead with the cancellation process.
"Why do you wish to cancel?" she asked.
"I'm moving... out of the country."
That was my angle. They can't counter-argue against that because I can't take a TiVo with me. Luckily, she never asked where. If she did, I was going to say, "Iraq." I had other potential answers, but those might have seemed to suspicious or she might have had good rebuttles and we'd be engaged in verbal ping pong for fifteen minutes. I just wanted to end the call as quickly as possible and rip a bong hit.
She didn't ask why I was leaving the country either. If not a "deployment to Iraq," I would have said claimed, "For tax evasion. I'm one of those Tea Baggers you see on TV."
Instead of pressing the leaving the country angle from yours truly, she attempted a different approach and tried to get me to pawn off my subscription to a family member. I told her, "They all have DVRs."
I really sensed weakness with this rep. I was a tad disappointed. I was expecting a full-out brawl, but she gave up without much of a fight. She approved of my request to cancel my account. I won this battle.
Pauly 1, Big Business 0.