Harness Your Consumer Power
It’s happened again. Just two months after Bank of America reversed its decision to charge a debit card usage fee “in response to customer feedback,” now Verizon Wireless is doing a the same. Last Friday, Verizon announced a new fee that would charge customers $2 each time they make one-time payments online or over the phone. The very next day, Verizon reversed their decision, citing customer complaints. Whether it was an actual decision or part of a publicity ploy (as some blogs have posited), it’s another example of consumers speaking up and showing their power.
Did you realize how much power you have? What are some ways you can get involved as a savvy consumer? Give feedback, for both positive and negative. Do you give feedback to a restaurant manager when your service is excellent or poor? While many retailers are used to customers complaining, it can be refreshing to hear positive feedback.
Once last summer, I sought out the manager at The Children’s Place Outlet during a particular busy shopping day. She looked defensive as she approached me, and I let her know how much I appreciated the fantastic service I always receive at her store, even during the busiest of times. She seemed shocked to hear it, and it prompted me to make a point of noticing and remarking on great service elsewhere.
Participate in social media, again for both complaints and compliments. Most companies, brands, and services have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds at this point. If you’re not getting adequate service through typical online or phone customer service, consider contacting a rep through the company’s social media. With its public face, you may have quicker results. In the case of this Verizon fiasco, over 100,000 customers quickly signed an online petition at Change.org which showed how quickly social media promotion connected disgruntled consumers for a common complaint.
Take away your dollars, by canceling service or avoiding a retailer or brand. Put your money where your mouth is and show the company how strongly you feel. Many consumers are currently boycotting Lowe’s stores because they caved to pressure from a specific religious group and removed their advertising from a television show. Both sides of this story show the power of consumer protest, in fact. In another vein, I am one of the one million customers who canceled my Netflix service after their poor customer treatment this past summer. Instead of putting up with poor service and higher prices, I chose to take my money elsewhere.
Ask for discounts, such as with insurance companies and TV/phone contracts. Once per year, I call my auto insurance company and ask them to review my account for discounts. Almost always, there’s a new discount that can be attached (look for odd ones like college alumni discounts, professional association discounts, etc.). With my satellite/internet provider, I call several times a year looking for reductions to my bill or any new promos that are running. If they can’t knock some dollars off my bill, they usually offer free movie channels or another temporary subscription. Just be sure to mark your calendar to cancel before you’re charged full price.
What are some ways you’ve shown your consumer power?