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How to Lose a Customer (Epilogue)

I realized, after my vent earlier today about National Geographic, that I never closed the loop on an earlier screed–that one, regarding my home alarm system and ADT. The executive summary of that post: I got ticked off at ADT’s appallingly poor service–and, when time came to pick a new vendor, went elsewhere.

I realized, after my vent earlier today about National Geographic, that I never closed the loop on an earlier screed–that one, regarding my home alarm system and ADT.

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The executive summary of that post: I got ticked off at ADT’s appallingly poor service–and, when time came to pick a new vendor, went elsewhere.

So, here’s the update. I enjoy a slightly eccentic hobby, in situations like this, of writing old-fashioned letters of complaint to the boss. Partly because doing so makes me feel better, but also because I’m curious what effect, if any, the letter will have.

So I wrote Ed Breen, the CEO of Tyco, ADT’s parent company. Pretty much spilled my guts; told him the whole, sad story.

Here’s what happened. About two weeks later, a generic ADT customer service rep called me at home to tell me my letter had been received–and that the company would act on it.

The same morning, the ADT’s regional manager called to chat. He had received the letter, was concerned, and wanted to hear more about my problem. He sounded genuinely surprised that his office had performed so poorly–though he noted that local management had recently turned over. There wasn’t much he could do about his company’s inexplicable failure to have a sales rep call me when I asked–but he did ask how his own customer service operation could get better.

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Inevitably, he asked whether there was anything ADT could do to get my business back. I said, no, sorry.

That afternoon, another generic customer service rep called to confirm that my letter had been addressed. I said it had, and thanked her.

So, I dunno. I came away feeling that the response had a pro forma, perfunctory, big-company sense about it. Like, here’s the script we follow when some loon writes a cranky letter to the CEO. On the other hand…

–I wrote the boss, and I got a response (not from him, but you can’t have everything.)
–The regional guy seemed genuinely interested and eager to make his operation better.
–I managed to disrupt, in a tiny but sort of satisfying way, an otherwise soulless machine.

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