I can’t figure out Black Friday. If we live in an efficient economy, in which retailers such as Amazon, Costco, and Walmart, have pushed everything to the limit, how is it possible for anyone to offer a temporarily lower price and not just bleed cash?
Verizon’s behavior is the most bizarre. Their computer systems sent me the following text:
FREE VZW MSG: This weekend only! Get one of our best phones for $100 when you trade in your device. $4.17/mo after trade and bill credits over 24 mos; 0% APR. Call 866.396.3999 or visit a Verizon Store.. Device pymt purch req’d. Reply “X” to stop msgs.
I’ve been wanting to upgrade my iPhone 6 Plus to a 7 Plus in order to take portraits with the normal lens that Apple calls a “telephoto” lens. So I called the number. After literally one hour and three minutes on hold the agent answers, looks up my number, and says “that’s a small business account so I can’t sell you a phone. Let me transfer you to the right person.” Before he transferred me he explained that to get a 7 Plus I would have to pay $200 over 24 months, or about $8/month. The person to whom I was transferred said that his job was helping people with already-placed Internet orders and he couldn’t transfer me to the small business sales people, but I could call them directly. I did that and waited on hold for about 30 minutes until the robot hung up on me (presumably because it was closing time for the humans).
Calls later in the weekend weren’t more successful. Even before calling, I had tried and failed to arrange the upgrade using their Web site. Though I was logged in and it knew everything about the phone line and the account, the server offered me the low-priced upgrade offer but then there was no way to actually purchase it (selecting a phone and then a trade-in resulted in an “internal server error” page).
This raises a whole bunch of questions:
- Given that Verizon has computers, why wouldn’t they send me the correct phone number for my type of account in the first place?
- Given that Verizon knows that I have an iPhone 6 Plus, the basis for the $100 offer, why didn’t the message just say “reply 1 to get an iPhone 7 Plus mailed to your billing address”? (and then walk through some color and memory choices) Why ask people to call human agents when it can be predicted in advance that they won’t be able to pick up the phone? At least get people to register that they want the upgrade and then deal with them calmly over the next week?
- Why would Verizon want to do something that was almost guaranteed to result in hours of wasted time and frustration for a long-term customer? (landlines since the 1980s; mobile phone service continuously since about 2009)
- Why would Verizon communicate to customers that the fair price for an upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus is $200 when, now that the weekend is over and it is easy to buy stuff from Verizon again, they are going to try to sell people the same phone for $770?
How was this ever supposed to do anything other than annoy customers? Instead of trying to get every customer to call or come into a store during one weekend of madness, why not just offer a $150 discount on iPhones until the next Samsung comes out and then increase the discount to $250? Maybe T-Mobile grabs some customers who love to stand in line a day after eating turkey, but isn’t that better than having loyal customers who are frustrated?
I have to assume that I’m wrong about all of the above. Verizon is full of competent marketing people so they are presumably doing what is optimum (though the purchase of Yahoo suggests otherwise?). My question is therefore “Why is this artificial customer service charlie-foxtrot the optimum?”
[Note that I did finally manage to get an iPhone 7 Plus on order during the fourth phone call (Monday afternoon). It turns out to be a rather bizarre process in which first the full retail price is charged and then, three months later, after the customer goes online and jumps through some hoops and returns the trade-in phone, credits begin to be applied. The guy on the phone said that it wouldn’t be any simpler in the stores; the trade-ins have to be done via the web site.]