Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday's Lesson: It Pays To Ask!

Today is a recovery day, as I clean up and neaten up after about two weeks of solid work, both paid and volunteer.
I have a natural tendency to set paperwork aside and get to it tomorrow; as a result, I have a full in-tray of paperwork to go through today. First I set up my work for tomorrow, and now after lunch I attack the backlog.
The most urgent item was a bill which, to my horror, appeared to be overdue. I have been fortunate in being rarely overdue (and never by necessity); it just really bugs me to be late on things and also vexes me to pay late charges - it's a tax on being disorganized.
I mentally prepared myself to face the embarrassment of late charges and get set up for some sort of autopay so this doesn't happen again, and then made the call. The tech support line was frankly slow; there were several issues that just seemed odd, but ultimately I got my late payment made and then, since we were on the line together and I was on the website, I set up autopay as the tech offered suggestions.
I had been hoping that the tech would at some point note that there was a late fee and offer to delete it, since my record as a customer was good, but he didn't. I frankly disliked bringing the subject up, but it's money that I need so I reflected that ten minutes invested to save $25 would be an hourly rate of $250 an hour or so. So I asked: "Is there some sort of late fee, and can you do anything about that?"
I could have asked more forcefully, but that was enough. The tech had to mess around a bit, and I'm sure he was checking my history and so forth, but it was pretty clean (and there are lots of other backs that would like my business, but that would not have been helpful to state) so ultimately he came back and said he had to check with his manager but he was going to waive the fee because my history was good.
I thanked him sincerely, you can bet!
The major lesson here is that it never hurts to ask, and the other lesson is that it was not necessary to be hostile; polite and even humorous requests seem to elicit that same decision tree as angry and hostile, but at a far lesser cost for all involved. It may have helped that I acknowledged my error and took visible steps to prevent its recurrence: I was clearly a good customer on which they would make a lot of money in the future, so it only made sense to give me this sweetner.
So if you ever get a late fee or some other ding from making a mistake, don't be shy: ask!

No comments: