I think I’m an addict. Addicted to my XM radio news channels that is. I love my XM radio news channels almost more than salty snacks, crème brulee and dry martinis (clearly my dietary discipline is hard core).
So when my free six month trial subscription ended today and my channels were replaced with repetitive XM radio promotions, I was horrified. Almost like I had run out of water. Not proud of it, but it’s the truth.
I have been through this process before, and I dreaded the thought of making the XM activation call. I had to gear up. I learned from my days of disciplined mint.com budgeting that persistence pays when you want a lower rate for almost anything. If you can stomach it, that is. So I mustered up all the patience and fortitude that I could and I started the call in the car this morning. I knew this was going to take a while so I settled into the thought of it.
After a good ten minutes of strong accent assimilation and phone number/name combination spellings and respellings, Ms. XM was able to locate my account. We were on a roll. The monthly subscription “special savings” offer of the day she found ‘just for special customers like me’ was $18.99 per month. I knew this was a jump from my last subscription so I asked her to pull up my previous subscription and tell me how it compared. But, she explained, it wasn’t an active account. I pressed on, explaining that I realized it wasn’t active but I wanted to know what I previously paid (clearly this wasn’t part of her script and I think her head spun).
After respelling my name another fourteen times with ” C as in cat, D as in dog, B as in brain damage” she was able to locate it and tell me the lower amount I used to pay, very quickly moving on to the new deal of the day which was several dollars higher. She moved on briskly, pretending like I didn’t just learn that information. (By this time she was most likely reading a screen from her supervisor to “Move on. Clock is ticking. CLOSE THE SALE”). I wouldn’t budge and she knew it. I almost felt sorry for her as a robotic “does not compute, does not compute….” went through my mind.
After another sigh of desperation from Ms. XM, she started quickly typing again to look for even more extra special savings just for me today. (I picture her pressing a button to play sound bite of recorded clicking so it sounds like she is searching diligently.) She “found” a $17.99/month plan. I told her I only listened to three channels and that still wouldn’t work. She sighed with exasperation and asked me to respell the channel names several times more, thinking that would cause me to throw in the towel and accept the terms out of exhaustion. I battled on.
Next I got it to $14.99 for the extra special deal of the day – again ‘just for me’. She said it with a wince in her voice as if she knew I wasn’t going to quit. And by this time I think she had another supervisor message on her screen telling her “The time/revenue ratio on this call is REDLINING. GET IT DONE.”
Then she plays the prerecorded clicking sound bite some more and finds a $9.99 special per month (at the end of the script). I pushed for a prepay option that would bring it down further. (By now there are probably just exclamation points on her screen from her supervisor, “ABORT ABORT. GIVE HER ANYTHING.”
I ended up at $7.09 per month, prepaid at an annual amount. After taking my credit card she slipped in that this rate would only be for a year. Then after repeating my credit card number, she quickly and casually mentioned that I would be authorizing a recurring payment (gotta give a girl credit for determination). I let her know that I would like to be notified each year before renewals (so I can do all this fun over again).
By this time, she relinquished all hope. I had won. We both needed a nap. I think it was 30 minutes later but still, I felt that I had triumphed.
Tip of the day: Know that this only works only if a) the Wall Street Journal has been reporting that the company’s business model is in trouble and 2) for cable and phone companies you must have the details of the specific promotional offering of the competitor at the ready. And it certainly helps if you can mention that your spouse likes the competitor and wants you to switch.
But have the Tums at the ready, you’ve got to be able to stomach it. And today I was. For this small victory, I am grateful.