Narrow Escape From The Shack

Posted on February 16, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings |

Customer service.

We all hate it. (Not the service, the lack thereof.)

So yesterday, Saturday, I’m prowling around a Radio Shack outlet. Just kind of browsing, indulging my inner geek a bit I guess. And I’m checking out the telephones on sale – I need a new business level phone, one that has the buttons you push to end a call and make a new one. So I can make rapid fire calls. That kind of phone. But most of the phones are equipped with digital answering machines, I don’t need that. And they seem mostly aimed at consumer interests, including the ones with huge buttons for elderly eyes. (Probably good for alcohol-bleared eyes as well.) Long story short, I’m about to go check out the NASCAR racing action on the LED TVs going in the store when I see this pamphlet for a telephone service called MagicJack. Hey, it’s been seen on TV according to the brochure, something that obviously confers instant credibility upon the product. I mean, they wouldn’t let them show this on TV unless it was good, would they?

Seems like MagicJack gives you instant access to a telephone number that you can use anywhere in the country for local and long distance calls. For $40, the service and telephone number included. That’s $40 for a year’s worth of telephoning, no other charges. Sounds too good to be true, me says.

“Sounds too good to be true,” says I to the young guy at the cash register who’s correctly observed that I’m clutching the brochure with one hand while proferring a package of telephone line connectors to him with the other one. (The connectors seem useful, like something that could be used to test automotive circuits as well as connecting telephone lines somehow.)

It’s a great device, says the salesman. It really works, he swears. They can’t keep them in stock, says he. People love them, some buy five at a time for their entire family to use. All you need is a broadband connection and you’ve got a new telephone line, he says.

“Easy as 1-2-3, to save up to $1,000 a year!” exclaims the brochure.

“Well, uh, for $40 it might be worth a try,” I allow.

“You can always return it if it doesn’t work,” he says, closing the deal.

“Right,” I say. “I’ll take it too.”

“Hey, what about your wireless service?” he asks. “Who do you use?”

“I just switched to Verizon,” answers I.

My previous wireless provider just dropped their service and urged us subscribers to roll over to Verizon, which they are now reselling. Well I did get the Verizon service, but only after checking out other services as well. But since I hadn’t actually activated the Verizon service, not yet, there was a chance I could still switch to someone else if they offered a better deal.

A better deal. Radio Shack was bursting with great telephone deals in the estimation of this energetic young salesman. Just take this Boost Mobile deal. $50 per month and all the telephone service you could want, with no long-term contract!

“Ha,” I says. “Let me see.” So he takes me over to the Boost Mobile display, and while I’m gingerly checking it out he gets asked a question by another customer. “Go ahead and help her,” I says.

That’s my break! I grab a brochure and call out to him, “I’ll check this out and come back later!”

Whew. One too-good-to-be-true deal per store visit!

But that sales guy, he was good – sharp and aggressive without seeming to be too pushy. Kind of refreshing actually. And it happened in a Radio Shack of all places. A bastion of customer service! (Actually I’ve mostly always had good luck with customer service at Radio Shack.)


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