Why do some companies have rules that can only annoy their customers? My daughter's phone is with 3 Mobile and is in my name. She is on a £15 a month contract, which includes 600 texts. Seems a lot to me, but not to her. The latest 3 offer is a £15 a month contract with unlimited texts.
So I rang up 3 and asked if we could switch. The answer was, of course, no. The offer was for new customers only. Now this concept has been brilliantly parodied by Mark Benton in the Nationwide adverts. The ads, showing how Nationwide does not have offers for "brand new customers only", are said to have brought them a million new customers.
I asked the two customer service people I talked to from 3 whether they thought it better to follow a strict rule or to make a customer happy. They both laughed and agreed it would be good to make the customer happy. But they weren't allowed to. They weren't even allowed to give me a contact number or email for somebody who might be allowed to.
Why does 3 (and many other mobile companies) do this? The extra cost of the new contract is marginal. Much of that £15 actually goes to subsidising the cost of the phone that came with the contract. But the rule is rigid and you can only have the original deal you signed up to.
I am happy to give 3 a simple idea for their next marketing campaign. Why not offer any customer signing up to them the chance to swap to any other contract of the same monthly cost that comes out over the period of their contract? It would be a simple promise that they value their customers and want to keep them happy. And it would cost very little.
Of course 3 aren't alone here. I could give stories of dreadful recent service from Sony, Virgin and many others. I have a simple principle here: Don't have rigid rules that annoy your customers. One day I hope that won't seem too radical and crazy an idea.