retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday's FaceTime video was about what I thought was a really good customer service experience I had with Netflix when I changed from a DVD-and-streaming subscription to just streaming.  (I found an old DVD that had been rented years before, which is what got me thinking about it.  Netflix didn't charge me for two that were lost.)

One MNB reader responded:

Great video clip on NetFlix’s customer service.

I certainly wish more companies would empower their customer service agents to make the call as described in your experience with NetFlix – that is the way it should be.

I’ve been a Direct TV customer for years and for the last several years, I’ve found their customer service becoming worse and worse.

Calling their customer service is very painful… to actually get to an agent takes forever.  And I get calls all the time throughout the day and night from AT&T/Direct TV trying to sell me a phone plan, or security service or enroll me in Showtime, etc. and when I say no thank you, the agent just hangs up!

Of the last dozen unsolicited calls I’ve received from AT&T, only one time did the agent say thanks for being a customer before hanging up – all other calls the agent hangs up.

I’ve thought hard about buying 1 share of AT&T stock just to attend a shareholder meeting to ask the CEO “why does he allow his employees to hang up on their customers?”

From another reader:

Wow, that is exceptional customer service.  Hope similar things happen to me in the future.  But then I wondered, would the right thing to do on my end be to pay the $15 for the lost DVD.  That would be holding up my end of the “contract”.

Maybe.  But if they're not going to charge me because I'm a good customer, I'm going to be gracious enough to accept the offer.

And from another reader:

Interesting to hear your Netflix interaction.  I had a different reason for calling and a much different outcome.

I was just going through my AmEx statement (even though I still get print bills, this is something I rarely do and even then only scan through it).  This time something caught my eye – I saw a Netflix charge, on the 21st, then when I was shuffling the paper back to the front (it was a big bill, one reason I was going through it), I saw another Netflix charge, and then another one.  Needless to say, to my knowledge, I only have one account that I began in 2017 (not nearly as long as your 2002 start).  Intrigued and perhaps a bit miffed, I went online to look at AmEx charges for Netflix and found 3 charges/month going back to November 2019 (the farthest back I could search on AmEx).

I logged onto my Netflix account and found a Live Chat feature.  After what seems like a lot of back and forth about my situation, I was told by the CR that the 2 accounts were linked to “gibberish” email accounts but were effectively fraudulent.  Netflix would provide a single refund of $15.99 and put a lock on my account so that the accounts could not be restarted, but that I would need to report it to my credit card.  Their policy is they can only refund one month of overcharges and would do nothing about the additional $285 of extra charges seen on AmEx.  Following this Live Chat, after another long interaction with AmEx, AmEx said they would refund 10 ½ months of the overcharging ($335) as part of their fraud investigation and would send me bills going back to 2015 to see if I found more charges that I would have to report to AmEx with proof (highlighted charges on my bills).  Needless to say, I looked those up myself and found the charges started in June 2018.  A total of $875 has been charged on my AmEx for the 2 fraudulent accounts.

While I understand that I did not notice the overcharges for 2 ½ years and it is my responsibility to review my own bills, I was surprised that it was being dropped back into my lap, first by Netflix with their one monthly charge refund rule and then by AmEx who would need to receive 17 monthly bills with highlighted charges to provide any additional restitution.  Netflix could clearly see that the accounts were linked to “gibberish” emails and were presumably fraudulent, but had never reached out and let me know about the accounts, or inquire if I was using them.  They were just happy to have 2 extra payments from one customer.  Interesting too, that AmEx has not sent me any additional bills so that I may recover more of my loss.

And from yet another reader:

This happened about a year or so ago … I got an email from Netflix that my password and email address was changed and asked me if I authorized it. I did not! After double checking the email to make sure it was legit, I called Netflix and informed them I did not change anything on my account. They informed me; my primary language had also changed from English to Spanish. I am not sure how they broke into my account because I did not have a simple password or one that could be easily guest and have not had any other account compromised at the time or since.

After they verified, I was the account holder, they reset all devices that had my Netflix account on, sent me an email to reset my password and kept English as my primary language. This all happens in about an hour or so, from the time they hijack my account to me finding out from Netflix, Netflix resetting my account and getting the email from them to reset my password.

When I got home, I had to log on to Netflix for each device I wanted to use it on. It was nice to see they had my back covered and the fraud didn't last long. It's a reason to stay a customer of Netflix.  

MNB reader Adam Dill wrote:

The real question…what were the 2 DVDs you found?  

The Bridge on the River Kwai.  And Angels & Demons.

And another MNB reader wrote:

Ha Ha!! We still get those red Netflix envelopes!


Well, if you want to watch The Bridge on the River Kwai or Angels & Demons, there are a couple of DVDs back in the system.

Responding to a story about shoppers working for online delivery services are making the store experience problematic, one MNB reader wrote:

I rarely reply to your posts but had to! This one is so important - and full disclosure I worked for Whole Foods for 10 years and the shopping experience was one of our differentiators.

I  am a person that likes (liked?) to shop for my food. Some of the older WFM stores are especially harder to shop in, like mine in Silver Spring, MD which was an old Fresh Fields location. It is small, like a Trader Joe’s. So to navigate around the Amazon Prime Shoppers is nearly impossible. And because they don’t know the store, they are often handing their phone over to the butcher or other Team Members trying to get help, but need to rush because time is money. I  support the gig economy and know these workers need to make ends meet like all of us, but like you note, there are two types of stores now. 

With so many retailers/restaurants closing, I’m curious if the dark hubs (logistics-centric) stores will take their place. Probably not ideal for communities that want store-fronts but I  don't know what else will fill these vacancies.