Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Happened to Honesty?

Today the Washington Post revealed that the House ethics committee formally unveiled charges against Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). But this post is not about the ethical lapses of Rangel, but about the growing lapses in honest marketing, specifically Time-Warner. Cable.  Both Rangel and Time-Warner Cable demonstrate that those in power have little regard for ethical behavior.

In this case, we received a brochure from Time-Warner Cable informing us of a free Showtime preview.  The glossy we are your friend brochure had some instruction on how to locate the channel.  When I tried those instructions, I could not find the channel.  So I decided to call customer service - surely they would know what channel the free showing would be on. Well, I was greeted to a recorded message informing me of a 20 minute wait time.  I had a cordless phone, so I was able to do other things while holding. As I listened to the recording, over, and  over, I developed the list below. This is only a short list of an even longer list.
  1. Time-Warner claimed that customer service was one of their top priorities.  So why would I have to wait 20+ minutes to get customer service.
  2. Time-Warner advertised how they offered movies before they hit certain stores.  Of course Time-Warner does not mention that they entered into agreements with these stores so that the stores would delay the rental of certain movies. Seems like restraint of trade, not the free-market at work.
  3. The most irritating part of the experience was the remote control  Who would think that the remote control would be purposely programmed to be "difficult". In searching for the free preview I scrolled through some of the premium channels.  It turns out that if you are in the remote's program guide and are on a premium channel you can not exit back to your program! With the free channels you can simply press "exit" and get back to your program.  With the premium channels you have to get back to the guide (step 1), then use the program guide to find a free channel (step 2), then when you find a free channel you can then exit the guide (step3), but to return to the channel that you were previously watching you have to find it again (four steps in all)! Unbelievable
  4. Time-Warner claims blazing fast internet speed, but they have never clearly articulated what you are actually getting. Time-Warner also advertises that for some extra $$$ you can get power boost.  I seem to remember that this was part of our subscription, but I really can't remember.  Nevertheless, I am left with a suspicious feeling - me being a conspiracy type - that the service may have been initially offered, then silently discontinued; and now being offered as an extra feature that you have to pay for.  Unfortunately, I don't know whether that is the case or not.  But after Comcast's boondoggle of "traffic shaping" you have to wonder.
 After listening to the endless stream of sales pitches the customer service representative finally answered.  He was very helpful and after fumbling a few times finally figured out what channel we needed.  The customer service guy did a great job, but it also illustrates how poorly implemented marketing strategies that are quite disingenuous in nature create customer ill will and actually cost companies money.

When our political leaders (Rangel) and our corporate leaders (Time -Warner) act soley out of their self-interest it sets a bad example. If they do not feel constrained to act in an ethical manner, then why should the general population?  Anarchy anyone?  Individually, these examples, within the context of the whole US economy, may not seem significant; but when you add in spectacular failures such as Enron and Lehman Brothers you have to wonder where honesty went.

1 comment:

Patrick Mullen said...

Apparently Time-Warner figures if Charlie Rangle can get away with it so can they!!

There has to be a better way to do business.