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When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the friendly-until-they-have-your-money dept.
jammag writes: A new trend has emerged where tech companies have realized that abusing users pays big. Examples include the highly publicized Comcast harassing service call, Facebook "experiments," Twitter timeline tinkering, rude Korean telecoms — tech is an area where the term "customer service" has an Orwellian slant. Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?
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When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

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  • Free market (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:24PM (#47732085)

    Don't worry guys, the free market fairy will take care of it.

    • Free market (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:37PM (#47732203)

      Don't worry guys, the free market fairy will take care of it.

      The free market has taken care of it. Good customer service is expensive. Consumers have demonstrated that they are unwilling to pay additional money for good customer service. Successful companies have aborted customer service to keep prices low.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eneville (745111)
        Indeed, the phrase "you get what you pay" comes to mind. The moment big corporations in the UK (BT, I'm looking at you) off-shored their customer service things went downhill for the ISP. However, in that void PlusNet grew (from Force9) into a very successful ISP who promotes northern broadband and they do indeed have UK call centres who you can understand. They may be marginally more expensive but it goes to show that people in the UK are starting to vote with their feet and choose a company that they can
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In general, I agree, except I don't think "keeping prices low" is key. I think "making more money" is key, and "keeping prices low" is a pretty poor strategy for accomplishing that. Raising prices as high as you can without losing market share is the goal, and there are many ways of doing that without giving better service or a better product. Make it hard to leave, buy your competition (knowing there's no such thing as antitrust any more), manipulative marketing (proven to work, yes, even with proud, self-

      • Re:Free market (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:47PM (#47732807)

        No. The execs have realized that they can get fatter paychecks if they eliminate "cost centers" that don't deliver any perceived value. Anyone not working in the executive suite is viewed as a liability to the company and needs to be eliminated to reduce the pesky overhead involved in having real employees.

        • Re:Free market (Score:4, Informative)

          by NotSanguine (1917456) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:24PM (#47733105) Journal

          No. The execs have realized that they can get fatter paychecks if they eliminate "cost centers" that don't deliver positive cash flow. You know, things like infrastructure upgrades, maintenance and customer service.. Anyone not working in the executive suite is viewed as a liability to the company and needs to be eliminated to reduce the pesky overhead involved in having real employees.

          There. FTFY.

      • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

        by twotacocombo (1529393) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:06PM (#47732957)

        Good customer service is expensive.

        Good customer service is less expensive than bad customer service. A smaller call center staffed with decently trained and compensated CSRs is far more cost effective than watching the headcount continuously grow and churn to deal with the increased call volume due to poorly trained staff dumping calls, permaholds, supervisor escalations, previous callers figuring out they've been lied to, etc. At some point, your call center will outgrow its allotted space, and then you'll have to deal with a costly move or additional locations. Both companies I worked for experienced this, one of them had to move TWICE in 4 years, and the cost was mindblowing. Then, as you lose a lot of your customers, there's the cost of downsizing.. all of which could have been avoided by just properly hiring, training, and compensating a solid, core group of people to take care of your customers and make sure they didn't become unhappy with the thought of giving you their money.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:18PM (#47733063)

        The "free market" rewards greed in all forms. It is intended to reward these behaviors.

        The entire purpose of capitalism is to turn the greed in human nature into a force of productivity. But the side effect is that it rewards that greed. One of the only things that can keep that greed in check is regulation. But that has a side effect of creating a separate power base and thus regulatory capture and barriers to entry and so on. So what's the next step? How do we watch the watchers? We need a new framework for productivity but I am confident we can find it. Civilization and democracy has reliably marched forward. The world has (mostly) ended slavery, brought reading and writing to the masses, eradicated diseases, put a man on the moon, and so on.

        This science of "how much the consumer will endure" is not limited to tech companies -- nor even customers. This is the approach of the corporation to all matters, legal, financial, PR, lobbying, etc. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive. Sure there are a few good corporations, and some acts of altruism and benevolence. But the "free market" rewards greed.

        So we need a new framework for productivity, and we need to start looking now.

      • Re:Free market (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bickerdyke (670000) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:05PM (#47733321)

        Well, I once thought that too.

        But after receiving the same shitty customer "service" from a more expensive phone company, I decided that if I'm to get screwed over, I'm not going to pay extra for it.

      • by dnavid (2842431)

        Don't worry guys, the free market fairy will take care of it.

        The free market has taken care of it. Good customer service is expensive. Consumers have demonstrated that they are unwilling to pay additional money for good customer service. Successful companies have aborted customer service to keep prices low.

        Something to keep in mind whenever someone says "the free market will take care of it." The free market doesn't solve problems. It "takes care of them."

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Don't worry guys, the free market fairy will take care of it.

        The free market has taken care of it. Good customer service is expensive. Consumers have demonstrated that they are unwilling to pay additional money for good customer service. Successful companies have aborted customer service to keep prices low.

        US telco's are amongst the most expensive in the western world and the shittiest in terms of service.

        I'm with Australia's most expensive telco, I pay $30 a month for prepaid on a BYO device plan (month by month) with 400 MB data included. The cheapest AT US it would cost me AU$45 for half the amount of data and with Telstra, I can use the same $30 to get an additional 1GB of data. Even though every time I have to call Telstra (about twice a year) I'm connected through to Bangalore they at least have been

    • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

      by therealkevinkretz (1585825) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:46PM (#47732291)

      bought-and-paid-for politicians using the law to favor their friends isn't "the free market"

      • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:59PM (#47732441) Journal

        I find it funny how people who defend capitalism in this day and age like to say that what we have is "crony capitalism" and if we'd just give real capitalism a try for once it would be super awesome.

        What does that sound like?

        • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:09PM (#47732511)

          No TRUE Scotsman would fall for such a thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Flavianoep (1404029)

          I find it funny how people who defend capitalism in this day and age like to say that what we have is "crony capitalism" and if we'd just give real capitalism a try for once it would be super awesome.

          It's the same attitude you may have noticed that come from people who defend socialism but when confronted with the flaws of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, or Cuba will claim that those were, nor are, not under real socialism, but something else (tsarism, in the case of Russia).

          • by NoMaster (142776)

            The difference there is that Socialism, its various types, & the path to Communism, were all clearly defined by Marx, Engels, et al. well before it actually happened - while the excuse of 'crony Capitalism' is a post-facto excuse for the failures of Capitalism.

            Your examples - the Societ Union, Maoist China, and Cuba - while bastardised implementations of Communism (not Socialism; forget your propaganda-based US-influenced "education"), were not the natural outcome of the Socialist progression. Crony Cap

          • by Kjella (173770)

            It's the same attitude you may have noticed that come from people who defend socialism but when confronted with the flaws of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, or Cuba will claim that those were, nor are, not under real socialism, but something else (tsarism, in the case of Russia).

            It's the same attitude you may have noticed that come from people who defend libertarianism but when confronted with the flaws of Somalia will claim that those were, nor are, not under real libertarianism, but something else (anarchy, in the case of Somalia).

            The truth is, people game any system. They want that cushy job, that fat pay check, the easy life. Any form of organization whether it's corporate, government, non-profit or otherwise end up serving at least three distinct interests. The one they're sup

        • I'm more against government having unaccountable powers (which this is a good example of) than I am ultra-pro-capitalism.

    • by alen (225700)

      yeah, it's called not buying the absolutely cheapest thing

      people as a group have proven to buy the cheapest products with bad support and then complain about it. but when given the choice to spend more money on support, they never do

    • long time ago, a slashdotter cut right to the chase when he posted "Microsoft is not a software company. they are an abuse company. they utilize software to inflict their abuse." somebody tore down the copy I had hanging next to the copier, so alas, I cannot credit the statement properly. easily 10 years ago, and it hasn't changed since.

  • "abuse" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Twitter timeline tinkering" is abusive? That's a bit of a stretch.

    • Re:"abuse" (Score:4, Informative)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:49PM (#47732325) Homepage
      agreed, Lets stop trying to lump twitter changing their web page, and facebook experiments at the same level of comcast harassing customers. there is a major difference between the 3

      no one pays to use FB or twitter, as such if they change their page for whatever reason, so what? if you dont like it go to myspace or whatever else is around or make a new site

      comcast harassing callers, and the new info dropped about their 20% upselling grade for techs is a legit concern when it comes to customer dissatisfaction. I think you are watering down the severity of comcast when you lump in twitter and FB making changes to their pages
    • by maliqua (1316471)

      a more apt comparison would have been EA games i think

  • by robinsonne (952701) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:27PM (#47732113)
    Where are customers supposed to flee to? Many of these companies are de facto monopolies in many areas or at the very least in lock-step with their "competitors." There aren't very many choices for tech companies unless you want to do without, which is unpalatable for many.
    • by Matheus (586080) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:31PM (#47732153) Homepage

      ^ This exactly (mod parent up).

      Every single company listed in the summary has little to fear from competition at the moment. They have no incentive to placate the user base so the corporate drive of "maximize profits and growth" goes unabated.

      • The incentive to find the boundaries of what kills your clientele and what just makes them gnash their teeth but return is becoming a science of profitable intolerance.

        Bribed legislatures have trashed consumer protection laws or made them ignore updating them. It's almost like large organizations have voting rights. But nobody cards them at the polls if the campaign contributions are fat enough.

        • by bmo (77928) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:44PM (#47732271)

          It's almost like large organizations have voting rights.

          What do you mean "almost"?

          They have more voting rights than you, me, or anyone.

          And you know what? We've got "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" who will fight you tooth-and-nail to defend that, in spite of their own interests.

          --
          BMO

          • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@@@gmail...com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:17PM (#47733059) Journal

            And you know what? We've got "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" who will fight you tooth-and-nail to defend that, in spite of their own interests.

            This. Further, there's the tortured logic of libertarian theology where taxing those who can pay is immoral, and that as a moral people, we must not victimized these poor, poor, wealthy people.

            The wealthy and powerful, on the other hand, have no problem voting their own interests as well as hiring pied pipers to convince the masses to vote against their own interests through propaganda. There's a reason why nominal wages haven't risen significantly in over thirty years [nytimes.com] while the stock market has: someone is making money and it ain't us.

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:50PM (#47732329)

          Nononono, they don't have voting rights. They get to choose who you may vote for, and you then get to choose between their candidates.

          IIRC it's called "separation of power" or something like that.

      • by lucm (889690) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:53PM (#47732377)

        Even when there is intense competition the service is usually bad, because then the companies are stuck in a price war (like the one in the cloud involving Amazon, Google and Microsoft) so resources are scarce for great customer service. And once a winner emerges from a price war, the service remains poor because the company can get away with it.

        This is not specific to the tech industry. A long time ago people were greeted by a small army of sharp-looking attendants at the gas station who made sure to check the oil, clean the windows and check the tires. Nowadays you are lucky to get the attention of a nonchalant clerk facebooking behind a 4 inch bullet-proof window when the pump does not accept your credit card directly or when you don't get a working code for the automated carwash.

    • by Krishnoid (984597)

      I recommend you start your own, with blackjack and hookers.

    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:45PM (#47732275)

      What do they mean "tech companies"?

      The abuse began back when telephone menus replaced human operators, music-on-hold by the hour became the norm ("Please stay on the line. Your call is VERY important to us.") and service in general became self-serve or no-serve.

      And hasn't been solely a tech company thing. It's been an every company thing.

      In fact, I dropped a pest control company in favor of a competitor because the competitor didn't run me through phone menu hell just to get them to come out, inspect, and get paid.

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        There is a difference between lack of service and straight up abuse. Like cable companies who don't have enough staff to answer my 30 second request for cancellation, but can pay an army of a-holes to keep my on the phone for an hour arguing about whether I should cancel or not. An understaffed company that can't afford human customer service would just put a cancellation request on their website. Instead, when you sign the contract you agree that you can ONLY cancel by calling their cancellation number.

      • sometimes automation is preferable to human interaction. I bet comcast would be lauded if they had a phone menu with the option of "press 1 to terminate your service."
    • And where there is no monopoly, there's a cartel.

      I live in an area with four (or was it five?) allegedly competing cell phone carriers. Curiously enough, they ALL charge the same "service fee", have the same calling plans and charge the same amount of money for it (give or take a few cents. Literally CENTS).

      But nooo, that's not agreed on. It's pure coincidence that they ALL "invent" the same new charges every couple month (and don't even bother to invent different names for them) and it's pure coincidence t

    • The government who is supposed to regulate isn't going to change things for the better. If anything they'll make things worse since they're bought off by the corporations.

      For a long time the idiots would say,"Well who cares if the corporations buy off the government? The corporations need the people to survive so they act in the people's best interest."
      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        For a long time the idiots would say,"Well who cares if the corporations buy off the government? The corporations need the people to survive so they act in the people's best interest."

        For a long time the idiots would say, "Well who cares if government regulation harms corporations? The government needs to regulate so that the corporations will act in peoples best interest."

        Except we find that when you attack a group they don't just sit their and take it. They defend themselves. In this case they first defend themselves by influencing government to not harm them, and then since that influence came so damn easy they leverage that influence for offense as well as defense.

        Since a never

    • Google+? Works for 2 out of the 4
    • by xlsior (524145) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:00PM (#47732445) Homepage
      "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company"
    • Where are customers supposed to flee to? Many of these companies are de facto monopolies in many areas or at the very least in lock-step with their "competitors." There aren't very many choices for tech companies unless you want to do without, which is unpalatable for many.

      And again, they are not monopolies. Why does this myth persist? The guy they're talking about here, Ryan Block, lives in San Fransico. There are 15 pages of ISPs in the area on yelp: http://www.yelp.com/search?cfl... [yelp.com]

      FIFTEEN PAGES

      More than a few provide phone and television as well.

      The poor support works because most people are not Slashdot users, and do not use their internet for anything more than facebook and a game or two. As a result they do not call often, if ever and rarely have a technical issue. So

    • by fermion (181285)
      When I got my second iPad a few years ago, I got a Verizon model. That way I had an ATT phone and a Verizon iPad so there was some redundancy. What I did not realize it that the Verizon iPad had no SIM card so that traveling was a hassle. Sure a Verizon product is supposed to provide a higher level of customer experience, as long as you are always in a home region.

      I probably will buy an unlocked phone when I upgrade so I can immediately use it to travel instead of having to keep an older unlocked phone

  • No alternatives. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cammi (1956130)
    The only way to flee is to have an alternative. And despite all of the wanna-bes, there are no real quality alternatives.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      The only way to flee is to have an alternative. And despite all of the wanna-bes, there are no real quality alternatives.

      Or network effects make alternatives less attractive.

      Take eBay for example. The network effect makes it such that despite its fees and policies, it remains the #1 site for buy and selling goods.

      Sure other sites have started up and are better in many ways, but you see complaints from buyers along the lines of "If I wanted to pay eBay prices, I'd use eBay!" and complaints from sellers of "B

    • by Chas (5144)

      The only way to flee is to have an alternative. And despite all of the wanna-bes, there are no real quality alternatives.

      Contrary to popular belief, "do without" IS an alternative.
      Just, in this day and age, it's a very self-limiting, "cut off your nose to spite your face" alternative. As the only one who continues to be hurt is you.

  • by Maxwell (13985) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:28PM (#47732131) Homepage

    Required comment: the big corps have won. Deal with it.

    • Deal with it? Do you mean with torches and pitchforks, or...?
    • by ArmoredDragon (3450605) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:47PM (#47732295)

      I work for a big corp, and we don't treat our customers like crap.

      I think what you're looking at is companies like Comcast who have government guaranteed monopoly in the areas they serve. Smaller outfits or community broadband outfits are either forbidden from competing or are forced to pay exorbitant easement fees. Not by the federal government, but by the local governments. For companies in Comcast's position, there's no need to be concerned how you treat the customer, mainly because the local governments tell them not to worry about it.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Do you have a wide enough view of the company to be sure?

        It is possible everything's fine there. It's also possible that your department doesn't happen to be the place it does it's screwing.

      • In the USA at least, as I was recently schooled on another thread, local monopolies are forbidden by federal law. Now exorbitant fees are a different matter.
  • Customer/product (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:34PM (#47732177)

    Remember, if something is free you aren't the customer, you are the product and so long as they're not pissing off their advertisers these companies can do anything that doesn't significantly reduce their user counts.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      No, that's not true. If they piss you off, then their advertisers don't get views and also get pissed off. You're paying them - just in screen space, not dollars.
    • You lost me. What is free in this case? Customers are paying massive fees for lousy service -- please explain where the free is.

      Note: this is not about the Comcast-advertisers relationship. But if it was, it is safe to say advertisers are not happy with Comcast.

      To sum up, no one is getting anything for free in this case, and no one is happy (except Comcast, because they are a monopoly provider in the markets they dbi). So this is a monopoly issue, not a "sucker, you're the product" issue.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:35PM (#47732187) Homepage Journal

    Cable companies are granted "franchises" in most cities. If you want fast internet net you have no choice.
    Add to the fact that we have been in a race to the bottom for customer service for a long time. You average slashdot reader calls anything that is available cheaper from china on Ebay over priced.
    The constantly want free as in beer software.
    And yet complain over bad customer support.
    Back in the long dark history of computers I worked in a computer store. We had a large margin on the computers so we took the time help people learn how to use them. Today their is probably $10 margin on your typical PC and yet you wonder why companies farm out support.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      What you're ignoring is that the support for free software is often better than the support for commercial software. That in many cases free software is more responsive to consumers desire for functionality than is commercial software.

      OTOH, as projects get larger and older they tend to become less responsive, whether commercial or free. So there's something else going on. Call is "Standard Social Structure" or some such. Developers of a project that's been going a long time tend to feel that they are th

  • by grumpyman (849537) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:36PM (#47732197)
    ...they are the product. Need more repeating?
  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:38PM (#47732215)

    Right after the BP oil spill, I stood outside my house and watched cars go into an AM/PM for gas. Right across the road was a Shell (not that Shell is innocent or anything). I thought to myself "BP just did a Bad Thing, why are people buying from AM/PM? It says 'part of BP' right on the sign!"

    Perhaps it was habit? Perhaps it was that the gas was 5cents cheaper a gallon?

    This still bugs me to this day. Five cents a gallon, with each person having approximately a 10-15gal tank.. They couldn't or wouldn't spend 50-75 cents to send a message.

    There are already a lot of posts saying "where would they go to?". I get that. I do. But we still need to pull our heads out of our (not so) collective asses. There is only one thing that a company fears, and that is a drop in profit. As long as it's profitable to take advantage of us, they will. It's not THAT much effort to be a conscious consumer. People have been doing it with food. They just need to extend it to other things.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      It's so far removed though - the gas at the Shell is probably in part coming from BP wells anyways
    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Maybe they were smart enough to realize BP isn't the problem? As long as we're dependent on fossil fuels we're going to extract them from the ground. Really what's the difference between a few million barrels spilled in the ocean or burned in the air? Other than pictures of greasy ducks on the nightly news.

    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:25PM (#47732651) Journal

      Perhaps it was habit? Perhaps it was that the gas was 5cents cheaper a gallon?

      A nickle a gallon? I'd buy gasoline made from pressed baby kitties and the condensed death agonies of the last endangered whales on earth for a 5 cents a gallon less than the local competitors.

      I guess that makes me part of the problem.

      And, of course, as other responders have pointed out, the BP pumps were stocked from the exact same local distributor as the Shell pumps across the street, and the Exxon ones up the road, and the "independent" one across town... and quite possibly all from crude from the platform and oil field that went "boom!".

      So unless you were willing to completely give up all petroleum products (including textiles and agro-chemical based foodstuffs), or drill your own well in your own back yard and build your own refinery, you aren't going to be able to avoid feeding the machine you hate. Welcome to the 21st Century.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      I doubt most people thought BP blew out the rig intentionally; one can argue that they should have been more careful but I don't think anyone can claim they intended to spill all that oil. Plus it was clear form the beginning that the Deep Water Horizon spill would cost BP several billion dollars; that would seem to send a message.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        They didn't do it intentionally, but they did do it because of criminally illegal negligence. They were let off easy for some strange reason.

  • ...FREE!

    When I was a kid, I learned the signs of desperation...bad customer service and expiring food...the first sign of any store going south. All the companies that had success, treated their customers with respect and didn't do any pennypicking. The first sign is ALWAYS pennypicking, the second sign is worker efficiency followed by unhappy overworked workers. The third and last sign, is when they're lashing out on their customer base, trying to fault the customers instead of their products - simply because they can't afford to fix it (and basically because we wanted cheap stuff for free to begin with).
  • by chispito (1870390) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:43PM (#47732265)
    And no, I don't think they abused their "product" either. They did what they always do--show people things selectively to elicit a response. Usually it's called "advertising." In this case called it "research."
    • And no, I don't think they abused their "product" either. They did what they always do--show people things selectively to elicit a response. Usually it's called "advertising." In this case called it "research."

      Question, how do you manage to type these shilling/apology post for facebook bent over with your head up your ass?

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:00PM (#47732443)

    " Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?"

    Sure, would love to move. Where do you want me to go, Boardwalk or Park Place?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I too dislike Comcast, my only option for non-dial-up internet (other than my cell provider, which I find myself preferring despite awful speeds & device limits).
    But what options do I have? I can't bring my money elsewhere. Protesting in the USA has been deadly lately. So I'm encouraging the Comcast-TimeWarner merger. TW was just as bad when I lived in their monopoly. With 55% of the US forced into 1 very bad company, either:
    - Enough people will wake up & complain to matter
    - The US will no-longer be

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:18PM (#47732581)

    The best (most profitable) customer is the one that can be bullied into puting up with your bullshit. The demanding ones, the ones who know how the service should work and cause trouble when it doesn't measure up are worth getting rid of.

    Thank you, sir. May I have another?

  • I don't like Facebook. I don't use Facebook (despite pressure). But that doesn't mean I think Facebook's publicised test was abusive. It was a standard A/B test, done by website owners everywhere, all the time, from the smallest to the largest. If you reword it slightly, all the negative connotations vanish:

    Users seemed to enjoy the newsfeed more when we adjusted the filter algorithm to prefer positive (rather than negative) content.

    Said this way it sounds just like any other test (Google changing their ran

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:26PM (#47732661) Homepage

    You don't have to put up with jerks.

    • Internet provider - Sonic.net DSL. No packet filtering, good support, no nonsense.
    • Phone - Caterpillar B15 ruggeized Android phone.. Bought from Caterpillar dealer, not carrier. Declined Google account at first power up. Google services disabled. No updates from Google.
    • Cellular carrier - T-Mobile. Has no control over phone. No carrier apps.
    • Email - IMAP server. SpamAssassin spam blocking.
    • Main desktop machine - Ubuntu 12.4 LTS.
    • No Google account. No Twitter account. No pay TV. Ad blocking on all browsers.
    • Main news source - Reuters. (More news about Ukraine and ISIS, less about Bieber and Apple.)
    • Main food store - Trader Joe's. No "club card" required. Good prices.

    For almost every crap business, there's a competitor that isn't crap. Find them.

    • I had DSL. YMMV of course, but in our location it was pathetic. And anyone I use will be running over AT&T's equipment, and it took them a week to fix my problem (which was in their data center) the last time I dealt with them. So yes, when it comes to ISPs, I do have to put up with jerks, because my only other option is Comcast. they're incredibly evil, but at least they deliver fast internet.
    • DSL is a joke in the US. Got a load coil on your POTS line? Sucks to be you but enjoy the 2Mb/s "broadband" anyway.

  • Spirit Airlines was the most profitable US airline (per flight) in 2013. They also had 30% more customer complaints than any other airline.

    Most of the other comments are screaming about monopolies, but the airline industry is pretty competitive. American consumers really just don't care about customer service.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:32PM (#47733471)

    Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?

    Fleeing to where? Some other company where the service is just as bad or worse?

    I'm currently displeased with T-Mobile and the lies they told me about their "no overages fees" promise. I walked into AT&T and asked "how much to put your SIM in my phone?"

    "$20 a month for 300Mb data, unlimited talk/text". Oh, ok!

    "Plus $25/month to use a phone with that service." WTF? You can buy a service that requires a phone and then charge EXTRA to be able to use a phone with it? MY own phone, to boot?

    I could understand if you were adding additional devices to the service (two phones sharing one plan, e.g.). I could understand a charge to get a phone from them. But I consider it dishonest to separate out the plan from any devices that you need to have to use that service. It makes the cost look artificially low.

    $20/month! Great deal. $45/month, not so good anymore.

    Adding in that they charge for texts coming through the email to SMS gateway despite being "unlimited text", the service was more expensive for less product. I could choose to send a message to T-Mobile but it would wind up costing me more per month, and I have no reason to believe that AT&T's customer service is any better than T-Mobile's.

    So, it is likely that the idea of fleeing companies with bad customer service would only result in increased thrashing as 100 people move from company A to company B and 100 move from B to A, and 200 people find out that neither one is any good at helping them, and 200 people find out that they couldn't get as good a deal at their new provider as they had at the old.

    There is also the issue of the devil you know vs. the one you don't. AT&T may have better service, but they probably don't, and I already know how bad T-Mobile is. Changing providers for no benefit, added cost, and potentially no better service is a lose for me and T-Mobile probably wouldn't even notice.

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

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