How much should you spend to save a dollar?

First a quick note and some background information.redbox

Note: I love RedBox and have nothing against them. I think they have a cool service. The example here is only to make a point. For those of you who don’t know about Redbox, you can rent the latest DVDs at the redbox terminal for $1 per night (here, free plug for them)

Personal Background:
Before my entrepreneurial journey, I used to work for a CRM company where I implemented large customer support and self-service solutions in US and Europe. So I am very interested in how people handle customer service.

Background: A few weeks ago, I rented a movie from Redbox. That movie didn’t work and I called the customer service. The representative there (Eugene) was very nice and he promised to send a coupon code for a free rental. That was good. Last week when I tried to use it, the code didn’t work. That was bad. So I sent a reply to the customer service expressing my frustration. In a few minutes I got two replies from two different people

Reply #1 (from Diego) – Very Good

Thank you for your e-mail. We apologize for the inconvenience. To replace the invalid promo code, I have issued you a new promo code (below). . The code is good for a free one-night rental of any DVD of your choice. The code is valid for 45 days from today’s date. The code is:

Reply #2 (from No Name Customer Service Representative) – Bad

Thank you for your email. When did you try to use the code?

Why is the second reply bad?

There are several reasons:

1. You are trying to save a dollar and spending a few dollars in that process.

2. You are adding insult to injury to the customer. He is already frustrated that your systems are not working and by asking him to explain further you are escalating his frustration.

3. It shows that your systems are not strong enough to identity when this code was used.

4. It shows that the support responses are not coordinated as you are sending mixed messages to the customer.

5. By sending a no name reply, you are removing the human element. Am I talking to a person or a robot?

Every time someone tries to spend fifty bucks to save a dollar, it just baffles me 🙂