I can’t believe this is still a thing. Based on the request to renew the license of my FTP software, it still is a thing.
This email is coming from an unmonitored account or so says the copy. Yet when I hit reply, the email went to sales@.
That’s the right thing to do… though they do need to update their form email to say you can hit reply if you need help.
Every email you send should allow replies.
The reply doesn’t have to go to the same person, department, or mailing list that sent the email to the recipient. But if people naturally hit reply, let that email go SOMEWHERE where it gets attention.
Perhaps that reply generates a support ticket. Perhaps it goes to a real person or team. But it shouldn’t go nowhere.
And we shouldn’t even message people anything that sounds like they won’t be able to easily get service or support. Need help? Hit reply. Make it easy for them.
I was on the website for a company… a company I have recently replaced with a competitor. I needed to log in. I needed my login name and my password. Well, I forgot those.
The wasn’t a “I forgot my login name” but there was a link that was something along the lines of account info retrieval.
And here is the page to which it took me:
First I thought I was on the wrong form. I must be on a general contact form. Nope. I looked at the page headline and I DO appear to be on a page that helps me retrieve the login name I can’t remember.
And that’s a LOT of required fields.
I just emailed them and said I’m not filling that out. Send me my login name and a temporary password. Within hours, someone emailed me my login name and a temporary password.
Why couldn’t the website initiate that? Why have this form at all?
Even after a vomitous experiene with RelayRides, I was determined to see if I could rent my car. That seems like a better option than getting rid of it or letting it sit in the driveway.
I checked out GetAround. Looks like they’re cooking up some interesting things. I started by emailing customer support my usual questions about insurance and liability.
Customer support emailed back quickly that I had some questions that would need more attention than the usual service requests, and to please give them some time to track down the answers. Sure! I just want answers.
About 2 days later, I got a lovely and thorough email with answers to my questions. In short, GetAround was able to tell me in writing how I shouldn’t have any liability or financial risk other than “normal wear and tear” of someone driving my car. They explained their insurance and how if someone sues for $15M, the State of California ultimately holds the renter liable (not me).
So I put my car on GetAround. Visiting SF and need a great car in great condition? Rent mine! 🙂
Last week, I wrote a blog post about RelayRides. The short version is that their customer support seemed non-existent, and I was too concerned about insurance to be their customer. The longer version is a good read.
After that blog post, RelayRides tweeted me that they wanted to “clarify” things I wrote in my blog post. This implies that things I wrote were incorrect and needed to be corrected. OK, whatcha got?
I was emailed by the “Community Manager” named Steve. He wanted to schedule calls with me. I didn’t want to take the time. Plus, I like having everything in writing. It makes quoting people SO much easier later.
In short, I had a few key questions that nobody from RelayRides had answered:
- If someone renting my car causes a bad accident, can I be personally sued as the car owner?
- Why do you only have $1M of insurance when that’s what I have as a UX consultant? Given the total carnage a car can cause, shouldn’t you have way more insurance?
- If someone renting my car causes a bad accident that creates millions of dollars in medical care for injured people, who pays that? RelayRides only carries $1 million in insurance. What if someone sues for $15M for ongoing medical care for gravely injured people? Am I stuck paying for that? Who pays that?
Those were the types of questions I’d love to get clarified because in reality, I hoped RelayRides had all ducks in a row and would tell me that renting with them is a zero liability, zero financial risk activity for a car owner. I’d LOVE to be using a service like that. My car sits in my driveway unused.
So how were those emails with RelayRides?
Painful. I learned two main things from Steve’s emails back and forth for days:
- California has a law that allows people to rent their cars to other people without having commercial plates or commercial insurance. OK, so we can legally DO it. That still doesn’t answer the insurance questions.
- RelayRides is proud of their $1M insurance policy because it’s so much more than the state minimum. It’s so much more than most people buy for their own car insurance.
That’s true. I don’t carry $1M of insurance. But I also don’t expect to cause $1M or more of sue-able carnage. I don’t get into car accidents or cause them. There are a number of personality traits I have and choices I make that make me really unlikely to cause any car accident ever. Which means my insurance won’t be paying for someone else’s medical care. The person responsible for the accident will be stuck with that, and I’m rather confident it won’t be me.
That doesn’t mean that I can be sure that strangers renting my car are as serious as I am about personal choices, rules of the road, health, and defensive driving. For all I know, I’m renting to a guy with a drinking habit and insomnia who sometimes loses consciousness behind the wheel. He could cause over $1M in bodily harm.
So that’s great for most people that you went higher than state minimums. Thanks! But what happens when someone is sued for $15M and you have $1M of insurance? I never got that answer. What I’ve chosen personally for my car insurance is barely relevant. You’re picking strangers to drive my car and you’re putting your insurance on the line. Does that insurance really protect me in a worst case scenario?
Did you ever learn why they didn’t previously answer your emails asking these questions?
Steve acted like it was some awful customer service snafu that my same questions weren’t answered in my original email to customer service when my car had a potential rental… nor were the questions answered after I rejected the rental and emailed the company to tell them my concerns. A customer service OOPS, he was sure.
But it’s not an awful customer service mistake at all because Steve, Mr Community Manager, didn’t answer them either. He wanted me to take a phone call with the COO, but I want things in writing. TELL me in writing that I will have no liability. Because I can’t find that anywhere on your site in writing. Can’t tell me in writing? Then something’s up.
And everything’s coming up roses!
Steve also gleefully told me that their marketplace has been working just fine and just the way it was designed. Great! Will it work when a guy driving my car crashes into a school bus of kids and paralyses all of them? I need a platform that works in ALL cases, not just the happiest cases where everything goes right.
I shop Amazon because they cover my butt the moment I have a concern or complaint, no negotiation, no “OH we don’t cover that.” I go to a mechanic that stands behind his work if the work doesn’t turn out to fix my problem. When I consult for eBay sellers, we have a clause in our contract that says if something we put in the seller’s eBay listings breaks eBay rules at the time we install it, we will fix the problem at no charge since it’s our fault.
I’m not comfy with a platform that is playing 80/20 rule with people’s lives and medical needs when the chips are down and things go really badly. Any of us can end up in the 20.
So what did he clarify from your original blog post?
Nothing. I still don’t know what my original blog post had so wrong other than it drew attention to things to which they don’t want attention drawn.
I also knew that it was going to be a weak conversation when Steve replied to one of my emails complaining about how upsetting it was to get an email with profanities. I was unhappy with his email linking me to go read things on his site (that I had already read) and referred to that as “shit” he linked. And when he happily told me that a recent court case they were involved in was resolved to their satisfaction, I congratulated him on not getting “unwantedly fucked.”
When an adult professional acts medieval Puritan about “shit” and “fuck” when not used AT the person (it’s not like I said he was a fucking shithead), I know he doesn’t have much to say and needs to fill email space by acting like I’ve written something so awful. Put the focus on ME.
Hey, Deb. What happened when you asked him a fifth time to answer your same questions?
When I tried again to get my same questions answered, Steve wrote me back that their marketplace was not going to be for everybody. He then wrote, “Good bye!”
Good bye, Steve, Community Manager for RelayRides. You had a chance to clarify for me, and you didn’t. You had the chance to retain me as a customer by addressing my concerns, and you didn’t (and you didn’t).
Maybe I should talk to COO Alex Benn. Even if he doesn’t answer my questions either, he should know this is his community manager.
The sharing economy is a work in progress.
In my previous blog post about RelayRides, I said that given this approach, RelayRides has to hope that their drivers are either too lazy to have researched these liability issues OR don’t mind huge amounts of personal and financial risk. Because if anybody really stopped, researched, and cared about some bad potential outcomes, I’m not sure anybody would rent their personal car to friends or strangers.
I remind all of you to dig deeper. The sharing economy is still finding its sea legs. There are lots of legal holes, and in this case, insurance and liability holes. RelayRides isn’t alone in facing these issues. But they are alone in contacting me directly claiming they wanted to clarify things, and then not answering my questions.
Good bye! I asked Steve to please cancel and delete my account yesterday morning.
Remember when Steve apologised for my struggle to get off their mailing lists and said I wouldn’t get another email again?
Yes, that was part of our days of emails back and forth. Yesterday afternoon, I got this!
Test Name is a nice touch, Community Manager Steve. I unsubscribed AGAIN. I figured that I guess I’ll have to log into my account, delete my account, and really get myself off their email lists.
I went to their website. Went to log in. And got this dialogue box:
Wow! Hey, fine by me. But if you cancelled my account and don’t want me back, and you promised you’d stop emailing me, why are you still emailing me? Now you look silly on top of looking very silly.
Since I mostly drive my moto, my car sits in the driveway. I’m thinking about selling it, but my boyfriend thinks we won’t be able to share his car. I’m not convinced, so I’ll spend the rest of the year keeping a list of when I use my car so I can then present a good case for selling it.
I found out about RelayRides. It’s like Uber backwards. It’s like AirBnB for cars. You offer your car for people to rent. RelayRides takes car of matching people with you, handling the transaction, etc… They’re the platform.
Well this would be great! Even if I break even on my monthly loan and insurance payment, at least it’s money coming in for a car otherwise sitting in my driveway. So I posted my car for a few dollars less per day than RelayRides suggested. I figured with all the cars available near me, I’d have weeks to keep researching them before someone actually wanted it.
The next day, someone requested to rent my car for a month.
Holy cats, that went fast! Um, OK… Well, the guy seemed like a perfect rental on paper. Looks 50-something. American guy living in Israel. Has his own little marketing company. OK, hypothetically, he should be a low risk, responsible guy.
I emailed RelayRides from their contact page. I asked them to please clarify insurance, especially in light of what I’ve been reading online. Nobody ever responded.
I asked my boyfriend what he thought. Boyfriend did some Googling and wrote back with an article where some people who rented their cars through RelayRides ended up being stuck in really bad insurance situations. In one case, someone other than the renter damaged the car, the renter didn’t feel like getting a police report, and the car owner got stuck paying the insurance deductible. In a way worse case, a driver of a rented car killed himself when he crashed into a car. All of the passengers ended up with critical injuries. The medical bills for multiple people totalled more than the $1M insurance RelayRides carries.
As a UX consultant, I carry $1M of insurance. And I am really unlikely to damage your property, send you to the hospital, make you need lifelong care, or kill you. Beyond unlikely!
So how is it that someone could assess the risk of a car rental and decide that only $1M is needed? The cost of 50 years of daily care for someone who is paralysed runs around $14M.
But wait, it gets worse. My insurance company said they wouldn’t cover me at all when my car is rented.
You might think hey, I have good car insurance. If someone got into an accident, I’d just have my insurance cover it. Well newsflash, they probably won’t.
Why? Because you probably have a personal car insurance policy. You didn’t insure your car as a business vehicle. You didn’t tell the insurance company that other people will be driving it so you can make money. This means you need a commercial policy because this is a commercial activity. A personal policy would not cover a business use of the car. So expect your insurance company to stay totally out of anything that happens while your car is on a RelayRides adventure.
And in some states, you can be sued personally as the car owner.
It’s all bad, so I rejected the rental request (at least you can do that!) and explained to him what I learned… and that I just can’t take that risk. He was very nice and understood. I deactivated my car’s listing on RelayRides.
RelayRides then emailed me about rejecting that rental. Why they thought I rejected it was way wrong.
When you agree to rent your car, you put in an address where people can meet you (like your home) or you pick an airport. I picked a shopping centre near my home (why would I give my home address out?!?!?!?) and I picked the SFO airport. Sure, I’ll go meet people at the airport. A $25 cab home is worth making nearly $500 by renting my car out for a month (though I would be 1099’ed and have to pay taxes).
The email I got after rejecting the rental said that they found that many people don’t want to go to the airport. So here’s a new service they’ll offer so I don’t have to go to the airport.
You mean you think I wrote in my profile that I WOULD go to the airport and then rejected nearly $500 because I didn’t want to go to the airport? I would think that the people who didn’t want to go to the airport are the people who did NOT mark their profile as willing to go to the airport! Try emailing THEM!
I wrote back a long email about why I declined the rental. Nobody wrote me back even though it was a real human’s email and not a no-reply. So that’s twice I contacted them with my concerns and got no reply.
And then they put me on their mailing list and started mailing me about coming to their cool car owners’ parties. I keep trying to unsubscribe, but it looks like each email is its own mailing list… so I guess I’ll be unsubscribing from party and webinar invites forever.
This means their target car owner does no research or doesn’t mind serious personal and financial risk.
If that were my target audience, I would be trying to anticipate their problems and solving them. Your target car owner doesn’t read fine print and doesn’t imagine possible outcomes.
You don’t want to go to an airport? We have a $X service where you leave the car with us and we personally connect with your renter.
You are concerned that $1M in insurance isn’t enough because it’s what a UX consultant doing Axure prototypes carries for liability? You’re right. We went and got a $50M insurance policy, and here is our written guarantee that a car owner will NEVER pay a dollar for anything a renter does. We’ll also agree to hold you personally harmless and make sure our legal team fights for you (ie: covers your legal fees) if someone personally sues you because of something that happens in/because of your vehicle.
I need my problem solved, and my problem is way more than a cool website and some nice options like approving or declining a rental request. I have serious problems that can’t be swept under the rug.
RelayRides could have made crazy money off my car. It sits in the driveway because I drive the most beautiful moto ever made. My car is in near perfect condition. It gets great mileage. Easy to park. Good cargo space. I’m the original owner. It’s a 2011 Honda Fit with under 23,000 miles. I barely drive it. I’d love to rent it out. But not while the insurance situation is too risky. Maybe I’ll end up selling it next year.
Maybe RelayRides will improve their insurance situation. They should then email me and tell me to come back. If it’s not too late.
Edited 18 July 2014 to include my attempt to contact customer service before I rejected the rental.
I tried MightText what feels like a year or two ago. I didn’t like it and uninstalled. Fast forward to July 2014 and my Facebook friends are raving about MightyText. It’s like if you are not using this, you are a freaking loser. Fine, I’ll try it again.
My first problem was that I ended up in a bad web reload loop in Chrome. I was able to Google the problem, see that it’s a known issue, and navigate the handful of things I had to do to get out of that. I understand that you need a third party domain OK’ed but I would NOT suggest that every Chrome user OK EVERY third party domain! We should just OK yours. Why open Chrome users up to malicious crap just so we can use MightyText?
I ran into another problem. Every few minutes, my Chrome browser would open a new tab with MightyText. I didn’t want that. Not even close. I wanted to only go into MightyText when I wanted. I Googled to try to find the fix to this, and couldn’t find anything about not having it sync automatically (unless it’s paid) nor could I find anything about Chrome tabs randomly opening.
I had enough frustration and decided to uninstall this again. I feel kinda done. The people raving about it, you go and enjoy. I’m not having a problem managing text messages on my rather awesome phone.
Then, MightyText emailed me because I went dormant for a few days
It only took a few days until I got this canned email:
They’d love to hear from me and it’s not a no-reply email, so OK, I’ll tell you what went wrong for me.
What did I think would happen next?
I thought MightyText would want to try to retain me as a customer, and would tell me how to fix that. Even though I’m making it clear that I feel done with them, there’s almost always a chance to save a relationship. Even if they had said HEY here is how you fix that, and if you don’t give us another chance, we understand.
But this is what I got back:
Hmmmm, in the time someone took to reply that, they could have just given me the solution. Instead, the steak is dangling out there, and would I like to get a solution to that? Would I? We will wait until we hear from you that you’d like a solution to that because it wouldn’t make sense for us to be proactively helpful.
It made me comically wonder if every time someone writes in for support, do they write back and say, “Great question. Did you want an answer to that?”
So I replied.
And I got a reply back!
Sorry I didn’t answer your question by asking if you wanted an answer to your question. Because asking if you want a solution IS offering help, and you are not appreciating that! I’m now also sorry that you were frustrated that I didn’t respond to your original problem by asking if you wanted a response to your problem. I’m very sensitive! I know sometimes people just express themselves to be heard and sometimes they want advice. You wouldn’t want to give advice to the person just looking to feel heard. We studied psychology.
I can only say that I would use every uninstall and every comment as an opportunity to do better. If they know about my issue and have a solution, blog about it, FAQ about it, get it somewhere so the next person who Googles will find it. And even when people tell me they are angry or uninstalling (or uninstalled), I always think of them as someone who might come back… so I should just keep giving the best support I can. You uninstalled because of X? Well, here is what to do about X, and we hope you’ll give us another try.
Because word gets around.
I’m always hoping that someone who didn’t like my app and uninstalled it will still think well of our service and care. Perhaps they’ll tell a friend it wasn’t right for them but hey, friend, you should try it. They did try to help me and their support was fast.
You always have a chance to leave a good impression, even on a sale you may have lost. Are you taking those chances or letting them pass you by?
I had booked a bunch of flights before I was approved for TSA Pre Check. I then needed to add my Known Traveler Number to all of my flights and frequent flyer accounts. Some made that easy… JetBlue had an obvious spot to add it to my profile and my upcoming flight. United was also easy. Got it in my account.
I couldn’t find where to do it in my Southwest Airlines account. So I emailed them. I got a reply that my email would be answered within 48 hours. Click to enlarge:
Within 1 day, I got a reply that explained their TSA Pre Check policy AND hey, they took care of it for me! Thanks, Southwest.
US Airways was next. Their site drives me crazy. The visual design is OK but the interaction design makes me crazy. There seemed to be no way to add my KTN to my upcoming flight or my frequent flyer account. So I went to Contact Us to send them an email. This was the auto-response to my email. Click to enlarge:
Please allow 21 days for a response. Maybe 30 days if we have to look something up. It takes up 9 more days to look things up.
Insane. In today’s modern world of immediate communication, why should this take weeks? Why can Southwest do it in 1-2 days and US Airways needs weeks?
By the time I wait for their email, I will have taken my flight. So then I called them. 23 minutes into being on hold, I noticed that the recording was making Mother’s Day suggestions. Mother’s Day passed. Does anybody over there care about any sort of customer experience?
If you need more than 2 days to handle support emails, you need to take another look at your email support programme.
Shouldn’t happen. The person in charge of US Air’s email support team should ask himself or herself if he/she would be happy with a company that needed a month to write back (especially when the email is about a flight in 10 days). No? You’d want to hear back within 2 calendar days? Then fix that.
I had Comcast installed in my new place in mid-April. I spoke to some nice women in Seattle to get that done. That’s where Comcast seems to have some of their sales. Really nice folks!
I ended up with lots of problems with our TV installation. Ended up taking a MONTH to fix, so I spoke to tier 1 and 2 tech support a LOT. They are in Colorado. Some really nice and mellow dudes out there. Friendly and helpful.
Now, 2.5 months later, my bill is incredibly messed up. A lot of people promised me various credits to apologise for the lack of TV service we had for a whole month. Evidently, you can have a credit with Comcast, but it takes months for it to be “applied” to your bill. So you have it but you don’t. This means I’m still getting way too high bills for what I think I owe them.
Guess where the billing department is. Atlanta? Nope. Tucson? Nope. North Carolina? Nope. The Philippines. Wow, takes me back to all the times I nearly cried on the phone while talking to Sprint’s outsourced people over there.
And this time was no different. I nearly cried. I could not understand these women at all. They WERE speaking English. I couldn’t understand them. They didn’t seem to really get me. Two different women. I gave up.
I understand that if you want people to be stuck paying higher bills, you make your billing department impossible to talk to. Back in NY, those guys would be in the mafia. You wouldn’t want to mess with them, so you just paid (except I would always fight them). Maybe Comcast thinks they can win by making it nearly impossible to fix your bill.
Think about it. Lovely sales people in the USA. Lovely support people in the USA. Have a problem with your bill? Talk to the Philippines. It doesn’t have to be like that. Bringing those jobs home to the USA would be win-win. I get to talk to someone who gets me. And someone here gets a job.
I’ve run Facebook ads a bunch of times, and one thing amazes me every time I do it.
There is no customer support. Zero.
Need help? No phone number. No email address. No form to fill out to get help. I found a website claiming to have a secret link to get Ads help from Facebook. Filled out that form, and got an email from a no-reply address saying we don’t really get back to people who contact us.
Facebook suggests posting to the forums, which is peer to peer community help. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Facebook staff posting there, but maybe they do. They’ve never answered any questions I’ve put there.
And I need support because I have one question, over and over, for every campaign I’ve run.
I need Facebook to explain why their “potential reach” and the real “reach” are SOOOOOO far off. Potential reach looks at the number of people who fit the target audience you created. I want people who are 18-40 who are into startups and entrepreneurship in the Bay Area. OK, 80,000 people, Facebook says.
But my ad has been seen so far an average of 5 times each to 11,000 people. How are we NOT reaching the 80,000 people you said this could reach? If it’s unlikely to ever reach anywhere near 80,000, then why not prepare me for that when I’m creating my target audience. You know how active these accounts are. Maybe tell me this reaches 20,000 people. That’s still fine! Set reasonable expectations.
I know that Facebook ads are better for visibility and awareness rather than actual clicks and conversions. So my expectations are low. I’m hoping people will have “heard of me” and think of me when they need what I’m advertising.
It would be such a better experience if Facebook had someone to support paying customers. Facebook doesn’t have 1 billion paying customers. Just us advertisers. Why not court us. Why not make our advertising lives easier and more efficient. Why not answer our questions. We’re your revenue stream, and the best you can do is to give us no phone number and no email support.
That’s the ultimate in cocky. It says FU, we’re Facebook. You can take us or leave us. We don’t HAVE to help you. You need us more than we need you. That’s what that says.
I don’t think anybody should say that to customers, especially paying ones.
I had a weird experience with Fed Ex last week. A supplier shipped something to me from southern California up here to San Francisco. Priority Overnight, supposed to be delivered the next day by 10:30am.
When I tracked the package around noon, I noticed it was stuck in San Jose with no other information. It was not headed here. And it certainly wasn’t delivered.
I called Fed Ex. The woman told me the reason the package ended up there was because my supplier wrote San Jose on the package. But she would have it re-routed to me. I asked if Fed Ex then takes any responsibility for the package not being delivered. She said no because the problem was how it was addressed.
I emailed my supplier and told them that. They wrote back with a photo of the Fed Ex airbill for my shipment. And um, my address was exactly right. San Francisco was written.
I called Fed Ex back. A woman who called me, “Miss Debbie,” even after I asked her to call me just Debbie told me that the package was mis-sorted. She agreed that it was addressed correctly. She said it was their fault, and once it’s delivered, I am eligible for a refund on what I paid to have it shipped. It certainly didn’t get to me the next day by 10:30am.
I asked her if the system would automatically credit me. No, I have to call in. Fed Ex has a special 800 number for people calling in to get refunded for bad shipments.
Well that’s crap customer experience.
You know I didn’t get it by 10:30am on Wednesday. You know it was your fault. Why do I have to call again to get the refund? Obviously, the answer is that they are hoping you don’t bother. They’re hoping you just pay for it anyway.
Well that’s not cool. I’d love to know how much of Fed Ex’s revenue comes from packages that should have been partially or wholly refunded, but nobody called to ask for the credit.
PS: Because my third call to Fed Ex had put a “tracer” on the package, someone called me after it was delivered to make sure I got it. I had. I asked if she can initiate the refund. She said she could. So it only took three and not four calls to get this done. Or so I hope. Will have to check my bill.