A year ago I moved into a new building. Like my previous one, it offers two microwave/fiber internet providers with symmetrical internet speeds of up to 1Gbps (“symmetrical” meaning you can upload as fast as you can download. Pretty important for high def video conferences) as well as a cable company offering antiquated “asymmetrical” internet that’s really only useful for web browsing and content streaming.

The cable company, like all cable companies, can go fuck themselves with their crappy asymmetrical product and their data caps.

I thought over the other two when I moved, and decied to switch from Company A who I had used in my previous location, to Company B. Company B was offering gigabit speeds for a similar price as Company A with a 1-year commitment. I was signing a 1-year lease, so it seemed the better deal.

But over the course of a year, Company B has spammed me repeatedly with offers of “other” services I “absolutely needed.” (No, I didn’t and don’t.) They’re affiliated with a larger “brand” and seem to revel in reminding me of this.

Even as they were endlessly upselling (no, I don’t want any TV or video packages, just internet thank you) I suffered a couple of outages at the worst possible times forcing me to work from the office on nights I would have preferred to continue working from home. Having to go into the office at midnight for a late call with people on the other side of the world really, really sucks when you’re already wearing nothing but a robe and t-shirt and wanted to do it from your sofa.


A year later I’m renewing the lease because I like this place. Company B offered a renewal on the same terms.

I’m switching back to Company A. They never emailed me when I used them except to remind me I had received a bill (which was autopaid in any case). They never wasted their time or mine on irrelevant upsells. The one time I had an outage with them it was planned weeks in advance and I could adjust around it.

Company A are still marginally more expensive at the gigabit level ($3 more a month) but also offer a 100Mbps level that is more than enough for my needs — after all, I’m a single guy living alone — for marginally less than the competition, with a commitment to no price increases for 24 months. I’m happy to pay a lot less for 100Mbps, since I’ll rarely need even that. (I estimate my real need as about 20Mbps bidirectional, at peak use with a guest here.)

Questions?

  • Does anybody actually count how much business you lose by spamming people with upsells? I hear salespeople say they need to reach out once a week to business customers. As a former business customer, I have to say that’s well beyond the point where I’ll flag your email and phone number as spam.
  • Anecdotal evidence, including this one from Barry Ritholtz suggests I’m not the only one, and these are big-ticket losses.
  • It’s easy to count the upsides to this kind of aggressive upselling which is why it happens. Does anybody count the “customers who will never do business with you again because you keep interrupting them at the worst time and filling their inboxes with junk?” They should.

Lessons?

  • If all you need to do to retain a customer is “deliver and shut up” that is the cheapest, easiest and simplest thing you can possibly do.
  • Shove your “up-selling,” “cross-selling” or whatever else the fuck you call the endless spam. All you do is piss me off and make me want to find an alternative. Not every customer can be up-sold. Some just want a simple product to do a single thing. Leave us the fuck alone.
  • The first priority is delivering. You’re not going to “re-sell,” let alone up-sell, if your service sucks.
  • Sometimes, as my friend Corey points out, it’s OK to sell a “crappy” product for less money, because “crappy” may be plenty good for some people. (For me, 100Mbps for a lot less with your competitor is better than your “slight” price advantage on gigabit for example.)
  • IDGAF about your more powerful “brand.”
  • Tangentially related: if all I did was browse your website, I do not expect a week of “follow up” emails, “reminding” me that the product or service is still available.
  • Some of us just really, really don’t want to talk to salespeople. Ever. Go away.

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