My parents were incredibly generous and surprised us with a big new HDTV, which meant I had to upgrade my Dish Network service from regular to HD. I was already unhappy with Dish Network's "nickel and dime" mentality, and felt like I was paying too much monthly. I had called a few months ago to ask them to waive a few of the monthly charges but had only been successful in getting one knocked off.
Before calling, I checked their competitor's website (Direct TV) and found that they were offering similar service for a whole lot less (for 12 months). I called Direct TV but found out that although the monthly deal was good I wouldn't be able to get the same kind of DVR recorder that I have now, and we really like the features we have now.
Armed with that knowledge, I called Dish Network to find out my options. The first person I talked to told me that it's an additional $10/month for the HD service and it's $125 to get the new DVR installed. I asked about a charge on my bill that I thought shouldn't be there (a recurring $5/charge) and the person was entirely unhelpful. I thanked them, hung up, and called back again. The second person was more helpful and seemed genuinely puzzled about the charge, but wasn't able to get in touch with a supervisor to have them check it out.
After the boys went down for naps, I tried a third time. The woman I got seemed very rote at first, but warmed up as we went along. When she was puzzled about that same charge, I explained how frustrated I was getting with dealing with the little charges. She said she understood. After putting me on hold for a while, she came back and said she'd canceled that charge and refunded me for the last few months of it. I explained the sale that Direct TV was having, and asked if she coudl give me any consideration for being a long-time customer.
She put me on hold again, and then came back with this offer: waiving the $125 installation charge, and a 6-month hold on the $10/monthly fee for the HD service. We were very chatty at this point (she has 3 daughters: 9, 2, and 1), so I thanked her and asked if there was any way we could get a trial period on HBO; she laughed and threw in 3 months. Not bad for an extra 20 minutes of my time!
So here's my lesson learned: if you don't like the answers you get, politely hang up and try again. You'll "click" better with some people and those people have a whole lot of discretion. Being nice to her made her want to be nice to me. And if these are the biggest problems I have, I'm very very lucky.
Thanks Mom and Dad.