Scam Sagas: Falling Victim to a Company's Lack of Business Ethics



In early December of last year, we saw an enticing offer for a satellite dish installation and monthly subscription. For 198,000 LBP (USD 132), we would receive a dish, a receiver, installation, and a 90-day subscription. Thereafter, the rate per month would be a reasonable USD 15.


Given the fact that the provider is rather reputable in Lebanon, boasting a wide selection of high-quality channels in HD, we were more than happy to make the switch from our crappy cable arrangement.


It took a few prods and nudges to customer service before a local dealer was dispatched to our home to set up the dish. For whatever reason, he ended up requesting an additional 52,000 LBP (USD 35) in fees, claiming that the installation process on our rooftop was unusually complicated. A pile of horse manure, right?


Customer care eventually admitted that the dealer had no right to slap on his own service fees, and that we shouldn’t have paid the unwarranted surcharge. But from a moral and humane vantage point, we didn’t wish to sabotage his job and jeopardize his relations with the vendor. So we let it slide, like we do so many transgressions in this corrupt, chaotic microcosm we live in.

At precisely 80 days after installation date – May 8 – the dealer contacted us to let us know that our subscription had expired and was due for renewal. Poor fool, was he secretly pining I’d be the disorganized, “3al barakeh” type who doesn’t keep a written record of important info? I had already done the math on the date of installation: February 18 plus 90 days would put us at May 19, so he was clearly prevaricating.


I enlightened him, and after a bit of resistance, he came around 12 hours later and admitted fault. But little did I know his second attempt to rob us was just the tip of the iceberg, and that there was a bigger villain in the room: the vendor.


Since we had no desire to renew through the dealer, I dialed the provider's hotline and asked about our options. We could either come to their office in Jisr el Bacha during business hours (when all of us are tucked away at our own employments), or I could revert to the dealer. Pathetic.


In her banal operator tone, the customer care attendant went on to inquire whether I had heard of the revised pricing scheme. Pardon? No, I certainly hadn’t. Oh yes, she murmured. A new grid of prices had been released just a week before. The $15 monthly renewal fee had been bumped up to $18, no less than a 20% hike!


Ah, the classic bait and switch. Bait customers to buy into your attractive promotion, and as soon as they do, either replace it with an inferior product or lure them to pay more for a supposedly superior one. The provider had convinced us to install and subscribe to their services, and in less than 90 days, they had already modified their schedule of fees, claiming they were expanding the range of channels.


In any marketplace, this is called fraud. You just can’t change the rules of the game midway into it. I should have suspected they’d do such a thing, especially since an official contract hadn’t been issued when we joined.


I demanded to be referred to a supervisor, and for a good ten minutes, I pedagogically lectured her on the importance of business ethics, transparency, and smart customer strategy.


Photo source: https://corevalues.com/


How would she feel if she applied for a promotional current account at a bank and agreed to the compelling terms and conditions, only to be notified mere months later that the entire grid of commissions and fees advertised during the campaign was being overhauled?


Legally, vendors have the right to charge whatever price they wish, but when a customer signs up during a marketing campaign or promotion, those prices should be valid for a specified period of time, usually 6 months to 1 year. New customers subscribing post-promo would be subject to the updated fees, sure, but not the customers who made it through the promo door. Otherwise, it’s a hoax and totally unethical.


I’m still furious at the whole scam and have been toying with the idea of filing a complaint under the Consumer Protection division of the Ministry of Economy & Trade.


Seriously now, should I? Will it get me anywhere? Will justice be served? Or will the process be long, painstaking and entirely in vain?



Comments

  1. My Goodness from the very start, you reminded me of our experience.. Can you imagine we got an additional TV 6montsh ago and called the customer service and up until this day they didnt call back for the detaisl so as to dispatch the dealer to our home. Ridiculous, over priced and channels suddenly being stopped (charge more to get it back) or just changed taking you another hour to find it on some other number.... Danielle such corruption cannot be found in the most corrupt of places (next in line from Lebanon)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is absolutely insufferable and so frustrating!

      Delete
  2. Yes my dear, go and submit your complaint. It is always better to try

    ReplyDelete

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