Winning the Customer Service Cancelation Phone Battle

In regards to the story of Ryan Block and the recording of his request to cancel cable service, Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica has some advice for how to get through to the right people and get a cancelation without having to go through endless badgering from a rep who needs to retain the account. It involves losing your temper -or at least acting as if you have lost it.

Here is where a bit of unreasonableness will go a long, long way toward getting what you want. Politeness has its place, but this is not that place. To get pushed immediately through to retention, get mad. You don’t have to swear at them—cursing at a call center rep at any point is a great way to get them to hang up on you—but anger will serve you a lot better here than being nice.

"Look," you can say, "I was just talking with the retention group about canceling and we got disconnected. I don’t have time for this today. I am extremely frustrated and angry and I need you to put me back through to them right now."

If they try to guide you back to a script, get angrier and interrupt them. Raise your voice and talk over them. Demand an immediate escalation to retention—or, if you don’t want to be so exact-sounding, demand to be escalated "to the people who can cancel my account right now." You often won’t even have to give the representative any personal details. Enough bluster and bluff will almost always get you pushed through within thirty seconds. The trick is to be exasperated, angry, and frustrated—but not so angry that you’re yelling or threatening. If you have a good extemporaneous reading voice, it might be helpful to write down a quick script.

The advice is specifically for people trying to cancel their service. I’ve tried canceling a few times, but I’ve never really wanted to cancel the service -I just wanted my bill lowered, and the only way to do that is to request your service to be canceled. But in 2008, I had one truly horrific experience with the cable company (not Comcast) that caused me to lose my temper in the worst way. I took at least 12 hours of the runaround before I let loose, and I truly regret that my children witnessed it. The lesson they learned was that being civil doesn’t get results, but acting like a pure maniac gets the job done quickly.  

-via Digg

(Image credit: Dave Winer)

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I cancelled my service after trying to negotiate a lower price, as I pretty much only watch the Daily Show. They flatly refused, so I cancelled. I was immediately innundated with at least three phone calls per day, not to mention numerous emails, and regular snail mails, all offering me a ridiculously low price. I told them to stop harrassing me, that the time to give me the lower price had long passed.
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This worked the first times tried it: We are being recorded, right? Good. My brother has had a stroke and will never work again. I do not care if you cancel his service, I am just calling to tell you that he will never pay another bill.
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