Stop playing product games

I run a small business and we use a lot of different vendors for a variety of products and services. But last week we had a run-in with one of our vendors that could have been avoided very simply.

This is a company you’ve certainly heard of and have probably even used.

Essentially I needed to cancel our account with this vendor because we’d never actually used their paid features and had no plans to use them going forward. We were paying $30/month for a service we weren’t using. Not that big of a deal, but I feel stupid wasting money and this 3 billion dollar company certainly doesn’t need my company’s money.

When we created our account, a member of my team went to the website, entered a little bit of information about me, the company, and – of course – gave them our credit card info. It was a simple signup and billing process

Now when I want to suspend my account or downgrade to the free tier, I hop on the website, jump into the account setup pages and click on the… wait. I hop over to the admin page and click the unsub… wait it’s not there either. I have no problem finding the upgrade button – where I can buy more of the service that I’d actually like to buy less of. It’s a huge yellow button: UPGRADE.

So I search and search for the downgrade button. And I can’t find it. Now I feel like an idiot – especially since I make software for a living and should know how to use it. I almost gave up. But that’s what they want! So I Google “How to cancel Acme Corp account” and I find a relevant FAQ page from Acme Corp’s help pages. Cool. I have to file a ticket through their website. Not cool. I’m annoyed. I signed up online. So why the hell can’t I un-sign-up online??

The instructions for filing the ticket are very particular and I have no interest in doing this twice so I follow them exactly – which requires me to sign into my account again and dig around for the required information. Here was my initial ticket:

Subject: Cancel plan
Please cancel my paid XXXXXXXX plan. Thanks

account number: XXXXXXX
the email address associated with your account: XXXXX@
a good contact number: XXX-XXX-XXXX
and the last 4 digits of the credit card currently on file: AMEX ending in XXXX (expires 1/2020)

The next day I get the following response. Warning: If your blood boils easily, please don’t read further.

I reply back to the customer service rep that I’ve already supplied all of this information in my original request. He replies again asking for my company name – surely something he could have looked up with the information I’d already supplied. A few more days of back and forth and I’ve been billed again for the service. I now have to get them to refund me money when I can’t even get them to stop billing me!!

I’m so close to resorting to my secret weapon: my AMEX. I view my American Express card as a credit card with insurance. I do enough business with them that when I dispute a charge, they take it seriously. They also have amazing customer service. But I don’t like to play this card until it’s absolutely necessary.

Again, this is a company you’ve almost certainly heard of. They’re a technology company. They’re barely over 10 years old but worth billions. Their customers expect and deserve better than this. There’s no excuse.

I’m frustrated that they’ve actively made this horrible choice. So I hop on LinkedIn and message their SVP of Customer Service:

Two hours later I get a call from someone much higher up in customer support than the folks I was emailing. Seven minutes later, the issue is 100% resolved. I’ve been refunded, my account has been downgraded, and much more importantly, I’ve been heard.

But it shouldn’t be like this. I shouldn’t have to threaten with my AMEX. I shouldn’t have to message a senior vice president. It should be as easy.