Saturday, June 3, 2006

Nyet-Flix: A Customer Service Nightmare

Nyet-Flix: A Customer Service Nightmare

By Susan Jacobson

It's REALLY bad when a service provider does everything in its power to REPEL prospective customers, which is what happened to editor-at-large Julie Jacobson's mother when she tried to reinstate her Netflix account. This is her story.

Five years ago, for a "special" birthday, my daughter Julie (of CE Pro fame) and Duane (of Julie's husband fame) gave me a year's subscription to Netflix. A great gift, but at year's end, I realized my sporadic flick-watching didn't justify $17.99 a month, so I unsubscribed.

The Flixters do not hold a grudge. That they would be there for me when I came to my senses and re-joined was made clear.

Very clear. Exceedingly clear. So clear that I finally blocked their emails and barbecued dinner for ten over a fire fueled by Netflix postal offers.

So, when I decided recently to re-enroll, I expected maybe Gene Hackman to show up at my door with a La-Z-Boy recliner and a lifetime supply of popcorn.

Not even close.

Attempting to subscribe online I clicked on "new member," and before I could type five letters of my email address the whole thing was supplied. Now that's what I call customer service. I then chose a password and clicked "next."

"Your password does not match your email address," I was told in red. How could it? I was a new member.

I tried again. Same admonition.

Maybe I'm a "returning customer," I thought. After five years? Possible. I signed in again, clicking on "returning customer." Same result.

I called customer service. That's when the fun began (doesn't it always?).

I wish I could remember whom I spoke to; all I can say is that the DaVinci code would never have been cracked had this guy been in charge. Let's call him "Dave" in honor of David Spade the nope-nope-nope guy in the TV ad.

Dave: Can I help you?

SJ: I'm having a strange problem. I'm trying to join Netflix online and it says my password doesn't match my email address. I don't know how that can be when I have no password to begin with.

Dave: What's your email address?

SJ: [supplies address]

Dave: You are a member.

SJ: I was five years ago, but not since then.

Dave: No, you're a member. We have you on file.

SJ: How do I find out my password?

Dave: You'll have to remember it.

SJ: It was five years ago and the membership was a gift. I don't know the password that was used.

Dave: Sorry, you'll have to find out what it was.

SJ: I'm not sure I can.

Dave: What credit card number was used?

SJ: I have no idea; it was a gift.

Dave: We need your credit card information or your password; you're a returning member.

SJ: Well, I'll subscribe as a new member.

Dave: No, you can't.

SJ: Because...?

Dave: ...The system already has your email address and it won't accept you as a new member.

SJ: Are you telling me I can't join Netflix?

Dave: Not unless you provide us with your password or credit card number.

SJ: Can't you mail me my password? Lord knows you're not shy about sending me emails.

Dave: Nope.

'Round and 'round it went, but the bottom line is that I was flicked off by Netflix. I'd rather not get into where this might fall on the list of all-time lows in rejection.

I called gift-givers Julie and Duane to share this surreal situation. After several minutes of their predictable ridicule, laughter, mother/mother-in-law jokes, and snide remarks, they finally caught their breath and suggested I try some of the 20-or-so customary passwords they've used over the years.

Whaddya know? It worked -- on about the sixth try!

Naturally, I hated giving Netflix the satisfaction, but the choices are few. And I've got to admit I'm lovin' these flicks. It's a good thing, too, because no way can I ever let my Netflix membership expire; I have no idea which of the 22 passwords worked.

No comments: