Friday, May 7, 2010

Feeling the Love


My wife is participating in a sponsored half-marathon for St. Catherine’s Hospice.
Okay, she’s not actually running, and it’s only a half-marathon, but she is doing it between midnight and 6 AM so she deserves some support.
Horsham Midnight Walk to sponsor St. Catherine’s Hospice
19 June 2010 – midnight to 6:00 AM


I just cancelled my ISP after eight complaint-free years to sign up with BT Broadband, on the theory that having a consolidated bill and paying two pounds less each month would somehow transform my life. That’s like divorcing your wife and marrying your dental hygienist because you’ll save money on your biannual cleaning and won’t have to drive to the dentist.

I’m sure someone out there has done that and is dying to tell me how badly it went. Thanks, but don’t bother. I’m committed; the hygienist is awaiting my call and the wife already found out. I told her, I mean, I informed my ISP this morning. They took it hard.

This surprised me. England not being the spiritual home of customer service, I fully expected the rep to give me the equivalent of a verbal shrug and move on. Instead, they dragged me through the seven stages of separation grief, which, as an American, pleased me. We don’t like people letting us cast them aside lightly, so I’m used to a bit of grovelling when I call to cancel a service. I think I was more prepared for it than the rep.

“But we’ve been together so long! Was it something we did? Have we made you unhappy?”

“No,” I said, my voice laced with faux regret, “it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed; I’m not the person you thought I was when I signed on.”

“But we can change, we’ll make you happy.”

“But BT is offering…”

“BT! That slag! You deserve better! Please come back to us.”

“I’m sorry, really I am. I know I shouldn’t have been looking around when I was happy with you, but this deal caught my eye and, well,… You really don’t want to stay with someone as fickle as I am.”

“It’s not your fault. We forgive you! Can’t you see how much we want you?”

“Look, I gotta go. I need some space right now-“

“No! Please! Can we still be friends?”

“I don’t think so.”

I hung up, feeling a mixture of guilt, amusement and admiration. Whether or not it was true, they made me feel like they cared, and that gave me just the slightest pang of homesickness. It made me ponder my ISP infidelity and I began to second-guess my decision. Really, what was so bad about my current provider that I had to jump on the first sleek and shiny thing to saunter by? Maybe I was being too hasty. Maybe I should call them. Maybe they would take me back.

Then, as I replayed the conversation in my mind, analysing the begging, the promises and the resolutions, I realized there was one thing they had not done: they had not offered me a better deal. That’s the way we do it in America, Sparky, and if you can’t see your way to it, then get used to the sight of my backside as I walk away from you.

I’m so glad I didn’t weaken. Now I’m looking forward to my new ISP; I’m going to love slagging off BT.


  1. And you will get ample opportunity to slag off BT, they really are trully awful at times. However that is not true in all cases and I hope it works out fine for you. I have been with Virginmedia for a Loooong time and have had no issues whatsoever, but, like BT, they also have their detractors, so I suppose it could be a case of "Swings and Roundabouts"

    Going back to bed now as I was up most of the night watching the results come in for the election. It seems that we, as a country, voted for "No one in particular", I wonder when the next election will be then?

  2. I had a similar break up with my electricity supplier recently, only it didnt go as well. They stopped just short of telling me I was an idiot for believing the new company when they said they had a better offer for me! It was the tone of voice... After the call I had to actually go look up all the deals of both companies to make sure I had in fact made the right decision. I had. It was an unpleasant experience, but par for the course. Although saying that, usually there is more apathy in British 'customer service' and less aggression.

    I loved this: 'England not being the spiritual home of customer service' It is the very best way I have ever read this idea presented!

  3. Yes I read "What's New" - keep it going.

    I apologise for not sponsoring your wife but I already sponsor others for this event - I have no choice as it passes my house and they threaten to beat me up on the way past if I don't.

  4. I read what's new too....

  5. You've been in England too long. Most Americans don't feel any guilt whatsoever about switching. Hey, if they're not coming up with the goods?... Snooze you lose, etc.

  6. Yeah, I never feel much guilt about switching either. Then again, I've rarely switched providers for anything. Haha. Good luck with the transition, Mike!

    Dropping by to let you know that I got your book in the mail and I'm loving it so far. Thanks so much! And also to tell you that you've won a blogger award! You can claim it at:

    I hope you enjoy the award and that you have a nice weekend. :)

  7. Hello - you mean they have customer service in England?--That's meant as a joke, not a snarky remark. I will admit I was slightly shocked by the lack of customer service when I first moved here. Now I think overall the willingness to please the customer here has either greatly improved or I have gotten used to it, perhaps a bit of both.

  8. What's New readers: Thanks, I'll keep it going then.

    I can't say if this phenomenon is a new thing or not as I have never had occasion to swap services before. But I must be getting soft, as EPM suggests, because in the States, when it came time to renew my cell phone contract, I would go to the mall and visit each provider in turn, telling them what the previous company promised me and walking out if they wouldn't better it. The difference, as I point out in my post is, they usually did, whereas these guys did not.

  9. Lis: See, mail does make it form the UK to the Us, sometimes. And thanks for the award ;)

  10. MidwastToMidlands, Welcome! And yes, the sort of customer service you get here takes a bit of getting used to. I find it odd now, when I visit back home, that people genuinely want to help me.