Canceling Fax Service Like Passing Gallstones

L.S. writes that she had a devil of a time trying to cancel her service with J2, an online fax and voicemail service. The cancellation info was buried deep in the website and several links and phone numbers were only dead-ends bedecked with red herrings.

Finally, she got through to a chat-based CSR and that’s where the fun really began.

What came first, the anal retentive or the customer retention?

Find out, after the jump…

{Sharon W.} Hello, Laura. Welcome to j2 Global online support. I am Sharon, your Online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you today?

{LS} I would like to cancel my service. My J2 number is XXX-XXX-XXXX

{Sharon W.} I am sorry to hear that you wish to cancel your account. Could you please provide me with your PIN for verification?


{Sharon W.} Thank you for the information. Please give me a moment while I quickly check your account. In the meanwhile, may I ask why you are canceling your fax account?

{LS} I had a second line put in my house, so I don’t need the online service any more.

{Sharon W.} Laura , I can understand that currently you do not need the service. In the current situation as a special consideration, we will waive off the monthly fee for two months. You can use the fax service without paying any monthly fees for the next two billing cycles. Only the usage charges are applicable. Please feel free to contact us at any time. This way you will be able to keep your local fax number, which will enable you to send and receive any pending faxes with your number. You can use it for any of your future commitments. You can always use it as a backup number while you are mobile.

{Sharon W.} Your j2 account will be credited with $30.00 so that you may utilize our services without being billed our monthly fee for the next two billing cycles.

{Sharon W.} Since you will not be charged any monthly fees for the next two months you may keep the account till then. If at all you find that you need our services during this period, then you will still have the account. If however, you still feel that you do not have any use for our services by the end of the two months credit period, then you can always contact us back anytime.

{LS} I just want to cancel. I had to make a phone call and then was misdirected by the other chat service twice. This is wasting my time. Please just cancel my service and stop harassing me.

{Sharon W.} Laura , we completely understand your wish to discontinue, since you have already paid for the month, I suggest you to retain this number at least till the end of two months credit offer as you will not be charged any monthly fee for the two months. As a goodwill gesture for our further association, I would also provide you with an additional gift balance of $5.00 with which you can send up to 50 pages of faxes for free (per page per minute within US & Canada) along with the monthly credit.

{Sharon W.} During this two months credit period, you can keep this service active and if you use it once in these two months we will be more than happy that we were able to serve you. Trust me there are no hidden traits and you will not be charged any monthly fees for this account during this period.

{Sharon W.} Before completion of the 2 months credit period, if you feel that the fax number does not serve your purpose, you can get back to us immediately without any further obligation to stay back. We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

{Sharon W.} As this will also give you time to receive all of your pending faxes and you can also inform your relatives and contacts regarding your decision.


{Sharon W.} pdc

{Sharon W.} I am sorry for the earlier response.

{Sharon W.} In this case, what we can also do is, I will set your account to close automatically at the end of 2 months credit period. If you wish to continue after the credit period, you just need to contact us or email us at before 03/26/2006 so that you can continue with the same account after the credit period. Will this be fine with you?

{Sharon W.} This way even if you forget to contact us on time to cancel the account, the account will stand automatically cancelled and all billings will cease once the account is closed automatically.

{LS} I have no idea what “pdc” means. The extreme annoyance of this “customer service” experience has cancelled out years of a good business relationship. I DON’T WANT THE TWO MONTHS. I WANT YOU TO CANCEL THE ACCOUNT NOW AND I WANT AN E-MAIL CONFIRMATION OF THIS TRANSACTION, SINCE YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE INCAPABLE OF ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS ASKING FOR.

{Sharon W.} All right, as per your wish, I will immediately cancel the account for you.
We are sorry that you have decided to leave us. However, if your faxing needs do change in the future, we would be more than happy to have you back. Thank you for being with us and using our service.

{Sharon W.} We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.

{Sharon W.} Is there anything else I can assist you with?

{LS} I had to call twice on the phone, then use the other chat service three times to get a URL which worked to get me to you, and then this experience. I am glad to be rid of your company and will not be back.

{Sharon W.} Thank you for contacting j2 Global online support. Goodbye and have a nice time.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Elvisisdead says:

    OK. I’d really like to know how those customer support chats work on the other end. Do they have canned responses they can click on? Seems like it.

  2. jeblis says:

    I saw a similar chat log somewhere else. Many people thought it was a robot. At the very least it looks like they cut and paste a standard response. Is it really worth the 1% retention rate to piss people off? I bet you’d get better return business being nice, having an easy to reach cancel number/web page.

  3. Ishmael says:

    So I guess I’m the only one who has a problem with Laura immediately throwing ‘harassment’ out there once the CSR gives their first schpiel? Laura could have simply said no, please cancel my account immediately. I can understand being frustrated with not finding the cancellation number quickly, but it seems she went a little overboard…

  4. Ben Popken says:

    clr writes:

    “The online chat does not work with a Mac. That’s right.

    First they tell you you can only cancel by phone.

    You call the phone number and it tells you to go into the online chat.

    Then, you find out the online chat doesn’t work with a mac. I sent
    email – along the same lines of the chat that happened to the story on
    the site (the yelling part, not the offer of two free months – i would
    have taken that).

    it’s a colossal scam and one they should be busted for.”

  5. Madrid says:

    My first impression of the image to the left of the story was that someone was squeezing the holy christ out of a small rodent, causing it to bleed profusely. Guess not. Oh well.

    Here’s another example of the porn industry doing it right. Cancelling a subscription on a porn site is easy. Usually all you need is your account number and email address, answer a few questions like, “why are you cancelling” and such, followed by one last attempt to keep you on, and then a button to cancel for good. It’s not buried, nor is it annoying. And yes, I speak from experience. I have no shame.

  6. Am I the only one who thinks that the stone looks like a hamster?

  7. Am I the only one who thinks that the ‘stone’ in this picture looks like a hamster? (sorry if this gets double posted . . . wacky computer issues.)

  8. RickyF says:

    This is so similar to the AOL cancellation dialog I read and listened to yesteday that I suspect that it is the standard for disreputable businesses to now make it very difficult to cancel. The customer service agent is reading a script and they seem to be unable or unwilling to cancel until they have finished the script. It’s a shame we don’t have better protections against this type of sleaze but until the Republican majority is unseated we will be stuck with this crap.

  9. sp3nc3 says:

    While I completely understand any company’s desire to retain customers, I think a far more effective tactic would be to honor the customer’s request to cancel immediately and then extend the offer of a discount or waived activation fee should they decide to sign up again at a later date. Such an offer would make me feel like our business relationship ended on a good note, and I’d be much more inclined to do business with that company should my new situation not end up working out