Retention offers

One of the smaller efforts of last year’s cleaning was to ditch my ten year stash of Consumer Reports’ magazines in favor of their online version. The logic: online = available from work + less space + more updates. While that’s largely true, one hyper annoyance has been the lack of updates for model numbers and radical changes in their reliability ratings.

  • Example #1: — Our garage door opener broke (motor shot) and I needed a replacement. The online article was of marginal use because the models in my price range are all discontinued. This happens with almost every appliance, too. I found some good information on Google and the online stores (Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot). By the way, I don’t want to jinx my luck by blogging a whole entry about it, but the opener I bought at Sears took only an hour to install. No additional trips were required! (w00t)
  • Example #2: our Mazda MPV is now showing up with reliability “much worse than average.” Considering we were buying at the tail of the model year, after the then current moderately glowing recommendation was made, I have to wonder WTF is up with that. This thing can’t be as bad as the Chevy Cavalier it replaced, can it? Can it?
  • So anyway, the online subscription is up for renewal. Meanwhile, their price has jumped to $26/year, which is too much, in my opinion. I’ll just hold onto the magazines, thank you. I didn’t want to auto-renew, and logged in to cancel. Surprise! I get the “but wait…”, offering it to me for $18/year. They’ve adopted the
    double-plus secret flexible fixed pricing model, using it as a retention mechanism.
    Another example of retention pricing happened yesterday. But first, the background.

    The slimy
    asshats at Domain Registry of America sent a (*cough*) “courtesy renewal notice” — (Note the quotes. DROA sends these out to non-DROA customers in hopes they will panic and become slammed to their evilness for $35/year.) — for a domain name I own, and use because I don’t want all of my stuff to be under jimc.in.
    This resulted in an angry call from my spouse asking me why I was paying $35 for this (legitimate) domainname. “No, dear, I don’t pay $35/year for domains. DROA are oozing pustule-like vermin domain slammers. Say, did you do something to your hair, it looks lovely.” (No, it doesn’t work.) “Hey, can I take the kids off your hands for the evening.” (Slightly more success.)

    This call reminded me that I still own a domain name that I bought only because it seemed very funny at the time. (Hint: it has to do with The Onion) It’s a very, very stupid name, though. While it will expire naturally,
    I would prefer not to have this conversation again
    if the DROA rats me out with another “courtesy renewal notice.” It wouldn’t be pretty.

    I logged into Dotster, my registrar, to preemptively delete it, but the only way to delete a domain involves intervention from customer support. I logged a ticket, verified I read the FAQ (which told me to log the ticket) and, in a few hours, received a response from “Rosemary” with a litany of things I needed to do, but in the meantime, they’d close the ticket, thank-you-for-playing. The first item had said to use the same email address as my dotster account. I ignored the rest, of course, logged into that account, and re-forwarded the request. It bounced… because the ticket was closed. Rosemary kicked back my third, ticket appending a terse note saying I needed to do everything on the list. She was obviously perturbed that I wasn’t willing to do all ten items. (Like George Carlin’s Ten Commandments, I questioned the need to do all of these things.)

    I read through the list, item #3 is pretty stupid: mail them my account login and password. This exceeded my bullshit tolerance threshold, and I found another registrar and initiated a transfer of all my domains. This elicited a retention offer:

    Our records indicate you are transferring your domains from Dotster to [new registrar] I would like to take this opportunity to permanently reduce your Dotster account pricing for your loyalty to Dotster. I can meet or beat [new registrar’s] registration and renewal pricing at $8.95 and set you up with permanent $6.00 transfer pricing. As you may know transfers also include a one year renewal. If your new registrars registration and renewal pricing is cheaper than this offer please let me know and provide me with a link to their pricing page if available.

    I’m sensing a counter-offer:

    I’ll take your offer, if you delete the domain like I originally asked and Rosemary gives me ten push-ups.

    Okay, maybe I’ll leave out the part about the push-ups. These episodes, and the previous experience with variable offers on software and retention offers just make me want to continue haggling for stuff.
    Maybe not
    hot dogs, though.

    5 thoughts on “Retention offers”

    1. If I were you you, I’d stand firm on the ten push-ups request.
      A. Flabby arms just won’t do.
      B. I think the vile bastards need to comply with every item on your list.

    2. You should see the offers I got after recently closing accounts with two cell phone providers. It really kind of burned me too, because if I had known they were willing to help out with a new phone and lower my monthly cost/add features, I wouldn’t have been out shopping for a new provider. I only called to cancel after having signed a contract with my new provider(because I didn’t want a gap in service) and pretty much told the guys that it was too little too late on their part and that they should have been more willing to help me before I threatened to leave. I had gotten the impression two weeks prior when I broke my phone that there was no option other than paying full retail price for a new one. It’s like the regular CS people and the account closure people have no idea what the other is doing.

    3. Joney makes a great point — many of the offers come at a time when the customer has already decided to bolt. In my domain case, there’s a sufficient lag that the offer worked. When I switched cell phone providers, I had already signed a contract.

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