Consumerist on CNBC

This is us on CNBC’s Powerlunch this afternoon. The other talking head is Tom Mangan, a VP at Convergys Customer Care Group. He steals our bit at one point. Never trust a man in a moustache.

The story strikes such a chord because it’s a myth made flesh. It takes our deepest suspicions about AOL, and the state of customer service and retention procedures and proves them dramatically.



Vincent’s experience should be a wake-up call to companies and call centers across America. If you screw your customers over long enough, someone’s going to document your crimes it and make it interweb infamous.

Quoth Network, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any longer.”

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  1. limiter says:

    I was hoping Ben’s hand would appear in Tom’s window and start slapping him or something. Clearly Tom can’t fucking listen either since he answered a question addressed to Ben. How can he train call centers if he can’t even pay attention on national TV? Moron.

  2. Hawkins says:

    Christ, what a douche.

    Moderator: “So, Mr. Douchebag, don’t your representatives have a script that jerks like you train them to read from, to try to keep people from cancelling?”

    Douchebag: “We’re in the business of providing world-class customer service. That’s all we do. Just lots of happy customers.”

    Dear me.

  3. TPIRman says:

    Well done, Ben. I think that given the matter at hand, your patience and courtesy spoke volumes when Tom stepped on your response to regurgitate more boilerplate “world-class customer service” pap. Couldn’t have illustrated the problem any better.

  4. SharkJumper says:

    Nice t-shirt.

  5. ModerateSnark says:

    Yes, well done. I would have liked to see what you could have done if you had been allowed more time (whether by the host or by moustache guy). You had established that both the consumer and CSR must play fair, which would have given you license to follow up with some criticism or examples of agressive customer retention policies (such as the two recent examples on Consumerist of AOL trying to retain the dead). Of course, you did get to say the onus was on AOL.

    I also noticed you didn’t repeatedly mention “consumerist.com,” in fact, didn’t utter it yourself at all, but let the host, Bill Griffeth, plug it for you (“media watchdog group, Consumerist.com”). Well played; dials back the media whoring that way.

    My favorite Popken line was “…it’s come and bit them [AOL] in the neck.” Interesting how use of the English language must change when going from writing to a blog audience to speaking live in front of a big, largely conservative TV audience.

    And what was the customer service issue that took Griffeth 2 years to get straightened out? He must have been tempted to pull out the “Hey-I’m-On-CNBC-And-I’ll-Expose-Your-Neck-On-National-TV!!!” card.

    (Silly me; I had just commented elsewhere “Sorry I missed you on CNBC,” and then here you were.)

  6. Paul D says:

    Wow.

    First of all, I’m so glad this program had the time to give Mr. Moustache the opportunity to read his company’s brochure aloud on TV.

    Second, the look on Ben’s face when Mr. Moustache butts in on his question is priceless. You, sir, showed a lot more restraint than I would have been able to muster. I would have gone all “oh no you di’in’t!” and given him the Shaniqua-neck.

    Kudos. I just wish we could have heard a little more from Ben, rather than the Talking Head.

  7. Ishmael says:

    Good job, Ben! The look on your face when Mr. Corporate Logo cut you off said more than any words could have.

    If I have to hear ‘customer care’ one more time, I just may throw up. It’s almost as bad as ‘synergy.’

    I work at home on the claims end of a health insurance company. Imagine having to deal with CSRs every day as part of your job! I don’t know for sure, but I truly believe that the only training our CSRs receive is on how to work the computer systems, and some basic policy training. The sloppy handling of customer’s issues is simply amazing to me. Follow-up work not done, incomplete documentation, pushing off issues onto other people. Absolutely amazing.

  8. First of all, the beginning monologue of the host reminded me of Max Headroom. Really weird rotating camera angle and torso…

    The guy with a mustache is a complete douchebag. I don’t think he uttered a single sentence that had any meaning whatsoever. It was all corporate buzzword bullshit. Especially when asked how they train their employees to give a damn representing a company that is not their own. His answer to that question was preceded by an obvious bit of body language (a noticeable gulp and swallowing) which betrayed his lack of sincerity and inability to answer the question.

    Oh, and he is a total jerk for interupting and stealing your question Ben.

    Kudos for the MSM appearance though Ben! Interesting commentary how I had to see it posted on your site though, as I wouldn’t watch mainstream media otherwise…never watch it on TV.

  9. Great job Ben, I did love how the camera lingered just long enough on you to show that it was supposed to be your question. But more than that I liked how you emphasized that the consumer should be polite and that there’s probably an outcome that will allow both parties to get their way. As a former CSR for credit cards and someone who now cringes at the thought of talking to someone on the phone to resolve a problem, the idea of letting things escalate instead of making them escalate when it isn’t needed is a good one.

    And seriously good plugs on the site from the interviewer, nice job!