Friday, February 6, 2009

Canadian Companies Cheat Less.

When I decided that I wanted to cancel my service for Sirius Canada satellite radio, I geared up for a battle, but was surprised at how easy it was to get done. I called the 1-800 number and waited of less than a minute to be answered. After talking to a very polite operator and explaining that I no longer wanted the service, he thanked me and promised that I'd get no more bills after this month. Was I surprised? You bet.

When I had an apartment in the USA, I tried to cancel something called WebTV, a service whereby you could get internet on your TV, without a computer. I called the 1-800 cancellation number every night for a week and was put on hold for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes before hanging up. When I finally got through to an operator, my line got mysteriously cut off.
Finally in frustration, I dialed the number listed that activated the service. As you can guess, I got through to an operator within two rings. When I explained that I wanted to cancel the service, he told me that I had to call another number."Whoa," I said. "Cancel the account now or transfer me to a supervisor!" It worked and I didn't think about the incident until I visited my parents in Florida and tagged along with my father to run some errands. We went to mall where he went to SEARS to renew his car insurance. I asked him why he would buy insurance at Sears instead of a broker, who would likely be cheaper.
He looked me straight in the eyes and said. "Son, they don't cheat you at SEARS"

I came to realize that he was completely right. In the years that I kept a vacation apartment in the US, I can't count the number of times I was cheated, it is ingrained in American business model.
When I finally gave up my apartment and as a final insult, the landlord refused to return the security deposit claiming some vague rule. When I threatened to take his company to small claims court, he laughed. "You Canadians never sue, you'll have to come back and it isn't worth it." Apparently he was talking from experience.
In the USA is routine to get your long distance carrier switched without your permission, to be overcharged for your cable and to be swindled on car repairs. Don't bother with phone cards, they don't give you a fraction of the minutes promised and don't ever get an American credit card, unless it's issued from the biggest banks. Hospitals charge $80 for an aspirin and will put you through a battery of useless tests just to wring more money out of you. It's no wonder that there are so many lawyers and so many lawsuits, it is a case of cheat or be cheated, it's ingrained in the American psyche.

For your entertainment, here is a taped conversation of someone trying to cancel his AOL account. It's a couple of years old but if you haven't heard it, it's hilarious and a good example of American business practices. An AOL rep tries to bully a client into not cancelling his service.

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