Big business is only interested in one thing: making money. Now that shouldn’t be news to anyone, it’s always been the way the world has worked and will continue to be forever more, but I remember a time when companies actually rewarded customer loyalty – sadly those times are seemingly gone.
It was two recent experiences that got me thinking about this subject, firstly in a dealing with EE and secondly with Admiral.
Earlier this year, both Hannah and I upgraded our phones – as is apparently the done thing these days. I decided to stick with my contract, but upgrade the device to a newer one. It ended up costing me well over £10 a month more than my previous contract, but after some extensive shopping around, it was the best I could get whilst getting the device I was after.
What irked me most about the whole experience was that EE themselves were not interested in me in the slightest. I have been an EE customer for the best part of a decade, paid them countless thousands of pounds and never threatened to leave or move away. So when it was time to upgrade, I logged on to “My EE” and checked my upgrade options… Extortion comes to mind. I shopped around and soon found the same phone with the same plan on the same contract through Carphone Warehouse £7 a month cheaper (that’s a saving of £168 over 2 years…).
“Right”, I thought, “I’ve been a loyal customer, I’ll phone up and speak to them and see what they can do”. Again, they weren’t bothered. I said I’d got a better offer elsewhere, they asked what it was and scoffed, “there’s no way we can match that Sir” and that was that.
Shortly after, it was Hannah’s turn. She went through a similar process, but ended up getting a better phone than me at a much cheaper price… How? Simple, a new contract. By closing her account (and losing her number in the process) and starting again (all still with EE) she was able to make massive savings and get a really good deal.
My conclusion: EE don’t give a toss about existing customers, only new business. Loyalty is dead.
Playing the “I’m leaving” card
The other thing which bugs me about these sorts of companies is how easy it can be to play the “I’m leaving” card. Granted, it doesn’t work on everyone (EE weren’t arsed) but when I was renewing my car insurance with Admiral it seemed to work a treat – something which ironically annoyed me somewhat.
The insurance on both our cars was up for renewal and the new premium was significantly more expensive than last year. Having shopped around, we found alternative quotes elsewhere which were more inline with the sort of prices we were looking for, so I phoned up Admiral to tell them to cancel it. The chap on the phone said “Is it the price”, I said “Yep” and he said “hold on a moment. What’s the difference between our price and your quotes”. I told him the difference and as if by magic he was able to drop the price to *almost* match – funny that!
It was a big drop, over £120, money which, unless I had threatened to leave, they would’ve quite happily taken off my hands.
Why do I have to say I’m leaving to get given the best price. Why can’t these companies just give me the best price in the first place? These days most new customers come from price comparison sites, so they know right off the bat that they are getting the best prices, but existing customers are simply told what their renewal price will be and are expected to accept it.
How is that right? Why do these companies feel that they can take advantage of their existing companies? I’ll tell you why…
Loyalty is dead.