Monday, August 16, 2010

Credit Is Due. In More Ways than One.

Since I seldom hesitate to complain about the various slings and arrows that life shoves at us (actually, that's not true: I hesitate quite a bit. But then I usually plunge on), I try also to give equal time to praise-singing. The former, I find, comes pretty easily; the latter requires more volition.

(Aside: When I was in the advertising game 20-some years ago, we used to share with clients an important bit of information: The ordinary citizen, if pleased with goods, services, or experiences, will share that news with two people, on average. If displeased, he or she will share the news with an average of eleven people. Here endeth the aside.)

Last month, before the kids jetted off to Europe, we spent upwards of an hour at a local Verizon store trying to arrange things so that the kids could call us via our son's Blackberry, which has international capabilities or whatever they called it. So the people at Verizon, after a certain amount of confabbing among themselves as to the best way to make our wishes come true, decided that we needed to sign up for some Global Something-or-Other (which required the extraction of the SIM card from our son's phone--no easy feat) and give Verizon money, and then get set up with a Skype account, and give them money. The kids then would be able to call back here via Skype, which would be cheaper per minute.

I am here reminded of the line from Disney's adaptation of The Wind in the Willows: "There was only one thing wrong with Rat's plan: It didn't work."

Every time the kids tried the Skype trick, they were informed that international calls could not be placed with Skype on the Verizon network.

So yesterday I sent e-mail to Skype's customer service informing them that, like Rat's plan, Verizon's didn't work, and inquiring about getting a refund on the Skype Credits I'd purchased.

To my surprise, I had a nice reply yesterday evening already--Sunday, mind you--apologizing for my troubles and requesting some additional information. I sent off the info this morning and--again to my surprise--received in short order another nice note from someone at Skype, again apologizing for the inconvenience and informing me that my credit card would be credited the full amount.

I imagine it says something about the state of customer "service" these days that I find it remarkable that a company
    1. Does the right thing
    2. Does it right away
    3. Does it without having to be cajoled, threatened, or blackmailed
    4. Does it in a polite, even friendly fashion
but that's precisely my experience with Skype. In a word: Wow.

Not that I wouldn't have liked it better had the Skype trick worked. I've had a peek at the next cellphone bill. Not pretty. But worth it to be able to stay in touch with the travelers.

Perhaps needless to say, I'd be more than willing to give the Skype thing another go next time I want to be in touch with someone traveling abroad, or if I find myself in that situation. Certainly I'd recommend Skype. 

Indeed, it seems I just have.

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