Some Word of Mouth Marketing: Biting Back at Poor Customer Service

Some word of mouth marketing itself led me to the book Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz. So far I’m enjoying it and learning from it. And here’s some unsolicited marketing from myself to you. (Warning: it’s not all that positive. But it’s free and honest.)

1. Sahara VW Customer Satisfaction Review: POOR

My car broke down in Vegas last week. Actually, I was past Vegas but Sahara VW in Vegas was the closest dealership. It turns out I needed a new fuel injection pump. This was last Monday that my car broke down. They called me the next day and gave me a ridiculously high quote on fixing the IP, plus they wanted to put on a new timing belt, vacuum hoses, and fix the leaky CV boots. I told them, “just the IP, thanks,” and they said it would be until that Friday that they got the part in! So I got a round-trip flight home ‘cause I sure wasn’t going to stay in Vegas for a whole week doing nothing.

Next Tuesday rolls around, still no call from Sahara VW. I call them. They say that it turns out they couldn’t get the part after all and were looking for a new source for the part. So I cancel my return flight (more on that next) and frantically try to find the damned IP myself. I manage to find two IPs within a few hours and call them back letting them know I found one locally. Turns out they found the same one that I found and were ordering it. “A few days” is the estimate on when they’ll now get the part. Yeah. We’ll see…. Of course I had to call them to get this whole thing rolling. Apparently fixing cars in a timely manner isn’t part of their mission.

Meanwhile….

2. Frontier Airlines Customer Service Review: SUCKY

It cost me $212 for a round trip ticket from Vegas-Denver-Vegas. Not a bad deal. The plane took off on time and landed on time (LAS-DEN) even though the seat-back TVs were broken. Plus no snacks on the flight, only a small beverage. I call Frontier today to cancel my return trip (see above) and ask if I can have credit towards a future flight back to Vegas, even though I don’t know exactly when I’m going (see above). The first rep I talked to said, “sure, that’ll be $100 to rebook, just a sec…” then we had some phone difficulties and we disconnected. (Of course they don’t call me back, that would be silly! I have to call them back.) The next rep I talked to continued the story by saying that my return fare from Denver to Vegas gave me a credit of $48 and that I’d have to pay the difference in fares. “Fine,” I figure, “I’ll get a $48 credit towards my return ticket.” Oh no, that’s not how it works. You see, I have to pay $100 to rebook and use my $48 credit. So, for example, a $148 one-way ticket would cost me $200 if I wanted to use my $48 credit to pay for the difference: I’d have to pay a $100 rebooking fee plus the difference in fares would be $100. Frontier Airlines can KISS MY ASS! To save money means I have to eat the $48 and get a separate one-way ticket. Then I ask if I can at least donate my credit to someone or something. Ha. (I think Frontier should donate $48 to a charity of my choosing.)

I’d go with another airline but Frontier is the cheapest from Denver to Vegas. Now I see why. They give their customers the shaft. I already paid for two tickets! Now they want me to pay more to simply put me on another flight. “Yes, yes” you say, “that’s how the airline industry works.” Well that may be but it shouldn’t work that way. Frontier won’t be getting any more of my business unless they absolutely have to.

3. Online Dating Services Marketing Idea: GREAT

I just had a brilliant idea for an online dating service and I’m giving it away here for free! Places like Yahoo! Personals, Match.com, etc. charge a membership fee to contact members. That’s how they stay in business. Fine. But many of the people who put profiles on these dating sites aren’t members. To chat with someone you find interesting, both people have to pay. Now pay attention. I’m going to make the first adopter of this idea a very popular site: Every month, for one day of the month, all people who have profiles on the site can have full membership benefits. That’s right. For one day out of each month it’s like everyone has 24 full hours of paid subscription access—but for free! This can be a random day if the company chooses, or this can be a day that is scheduled in advance. What little they’d lose in revenue they’d surely make up for in additional memberships. Plus it’s great marketing and you get major bonus points with poor and lonely internet geeks.

In Summation

To sum up, Sahara VW in Las Vegas doesn’t have their act together. Their customer suport reps don’t know what they’re doing and they’ll try to charge you way too much for it. In contrast, my local dealership, Osborn VW, is still expensive but they do good work. And they even had an injector pump in stock. Gee, imagine that. Frontier Airlines wants too much money to change a reservation and their credit policies are apparently not designed to retain customers. Pity. I kind of liked their animals. Too bad they spend all their money on computer animated talking animals for their commercials and not enough on actually helping their customers. Without happy customers what is your company? Huh?

Think about it while I take my business elsewhere.

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Author: PhilRW

software engineer, pianist, polymath

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