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SunRocket and I enter the Twilight Zone

I’m learning that you can’t take the business model out of the business, or teach an old dog new tricks.  SunRocket Customer Service and I are engaged in a discussion at the moment around my cancelling their service via email. 

To recap, SunRocket sent me a notice that I had an unpaid bill about a month ago.  I emailed them back to tell them to cancel the account, which they refused to do by email.  They argue that they need to verify my identity. I have countered that the mere act of contacting me, and getting a response, should be sufficient. Moreover, they really have no way to verify, were I to phone in, that I am in fact who I say I am.  The telephone has no mechanism for asserting identity — it’s a very Voice 2.0 idea and a little before its time.

The latest email thread is attached.  It’s taken a strange turn, including:

  • One customer service rep threatened my credit record, saying that unless I telephoned them to cancel they would cancel the account for non-payment, thus damaging my credit. It’s more than a little bizarre that they can cancel the account for non-payment, but refuse to cancel the account at my explicit request.  It’s like an episode from the Twilight Zone, or a Monty Python Sketch.
  • I’ve been told that it is insufficient merely to verify my identity.  In fact, there are apparently “other” items which must be verified before I may be permitted to cancel the account.

I have to admit that I am intrigued by the latest turn.  What other items might have to be verified before I can cancel?  I’ve asked.

Any suggestions as to what I should do next?  I’ve considered:

  1. Sending them a digitally signed email in order to assert identity.  Apparently, however, there are other things which need “verification”, so perhaps this won’t be enough.
  2. Asking them to phone me.  Since my chief objection to this whole process is not wanting to wait on hold, not wanting to explain my reasons for cancelling to the CSR, and not wanting to fend off the inevitable sell-back, this might work well.
  3. And of course, I could just call them and cancel and put up with the hassle of their win-back speeches, etc.

SunRocket positions themselves as a different kind of communications provider.  They’ve got everything from a Members Bill of Rights, with all kinds of guarantees to the customer, to a no-surprises bill, and a no-hassles cancellation policy.  But at the end of the day, they’re still a telephone company, and still behave like a telephone company.

Here’s the email thread.  What would you advise?

———————————-

Dear SunRocket Member,

Thank you for taking the time to contact SunRocket.

I apologize that you have not received the customer service you desire. Unfortunately, we cannot cancel your account via email. We are not letting a policy keep us from doing the right thing. The right thing to do is to verify the identity of the person requesting a cancellation. Your email address, while it does verify you are who you say you are, is not enough verification to cancel your account. We must verify many other items from your account before we can authorize a cancellation because we know that anyone could contact us by phone to cancel someone else’s account. In order to verify this information, we need for you to contact us at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight EST, 7 days a week). I understand that you do not want to contact us by phone, but until you do, your account will not be canceled, unless terminated due to non-payment. We are not threatening your credit history. We need you to understand that if payment for the service (even if you emailed to cancel and are not using the service) is not secured, your account will be either suspended or terminated.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please use this ticket number, 1000358280, as reference to this matter. Our customer support team will be able to extend to you the same support.

Sincerely,

Daniel

#29672

SunRocket Member Services

If you have further questions, please visit our website at www.SunRocket.com where you can find answers by simply logging into your account. If you are unable to find your answer online, you may contact a Member Services representative via email at memberservices@sunrocket.com, or by phone at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight ET, 7 days a week).

—–Original Message—–

From: Alec Saunders

Sent: Nov 30, 2006 12:33:56 PM

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th Notice (#6554-59788935-6420) re (ticket# 1000358280)

Patricia,

Many thanks for the explanation.

As I’ve pointed out before, you contacted me about my account, not the other way around. It’s highly unlikely that my perhaps disgruntled spouse has access to my email account. Nor is it likely that this email is coming from a random person on the internet asking for the cancellation of this account. YOU GUYS mailed me.

That’s common sense, which is what your company purports to practice.

But you have a policy which says you can’t accept a cancellation by email. You also claim that you won’t let policy get in the way of doing “the right thing”. I won’t argue that if I had randomly emailed you, you might want to verify that I am who I say I am. However, that’s not the case here. The mere act of selecting my email address from your database guarantees that I am who I say I am, UNLESS I deliberately falsified that ID at the time I signed up. Moreover, I could be ANYONE calling when I telephone in. Since there is no reliable mechanism for verifying the identity of a person via the telephone, then you really don’t know who it is that is calling. At least in this circumstance you have an inkling that you might be talking to the right person.

Patricia, I really don’t appreciate Sunrocket’s threat to damage my good credit standing. But since you’ve threatened me, you might be interested to know that my weblog — www.saunderslog.com — is read by 200,000 people per month. Most of those are people who are interested in VoIP, because I am ranked one of the top 20 VoIP blogs on the internet.

So, I think you should exercise a little common sense and cancel my account. My next story about Sunrocket can be about how you folks threatened my good credit history, with some biting commentary on the value of your “members bill of rights”, or it can be something more positive. It’s your choice.

Thanks,

A

—–Original Message—–

From: Member Services [mailto:memberservices@sunrocket.com]

Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:00 PM

To: Alec Saunders

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th

Notice (#6554-59788935-6420) re (ticket# 1000358280)

Dear Alec,

I realize that you have not received the treatment that you feel you deserve. If we did not require that a member call in to verify that they are the account holder to cancel service, anyone would be able to close anyone else’s account. For instance, a spouse who has left home and wants to get back at you may have your phone cancelled without your permission.

You can surely understand our position in trying to protect our members.

Second, if you call to cancel and do not want to listen to a re-sell speech simply tell the agent you are not interested. We try and practice common sense resolution but it is difficult to do when you refuse to speak to us. You may cancel at any time, please call to do so. Your account stands to be cancelled due to non-payment, which will go on your credit history. If this is the way you would like it to end, you need do nothing else. If you do not want this to go on your credit report then I suggest you call our member services department and cancel your service.

If there’s anything else we can do to make your SunRocket experience the best it can be, please feel free to call SunRocket Member Services at 1-800-786-0132. Our Representatives are available from 7am to 12 Midnight EST. You may also send us an e-mail at memberservices@sunrocket.com. Our email support team is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sincerely,

Patricia 29281

SunRocket Member Services

Ticket#: 1000358280

If you have further questions, please visit our website at www.SunRocket.com where you can find answers by simply logging into your account. If you are unable to find your answer online, you may contact a Member Services representative via email at memberservices@sunrocket.com, or by phone at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight ET, 7 days a week).

—–Original Message—–

From: Alec Saunders (alec@iotum.com)

Sent: Nov 29, 2006 4:22:40 PM

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th

Notice (#6554-59788935-6420) re (ticket# 1000358280)

Dear Kim,

I wish to point out the following things:

First, from the SunRocket Member Bill of Rights, I am guaranteed

1) Unconditional Satisfaction.

2) Common Sense Resolution: Policies will never stand in the way of doing the right thing. All SunRocket representatives have the power to use reasonable judgment to address your concerns and “make it right”.

3) No Cancellation Penalties: We will not penalize you for our failure to deliver upon your expectations. You can discontinue SunRocket service at any time without hassle or cancellation fees.

Please read those words carefully. Unconditional satisfaction. Common sense resolution. No hassles.

Second, from the terms of service section labeled SERVICE CANCELLATION:

“You may cancel the Service at any time by notifying SunRocket according to the procedures specified on the SunRocket website.”

I googled your entire website for a cancellation procedure. There is no cancellation procedure specified ANYWHERE.

The terms of service are that I may cancel using a procedure which you have not established. Moreover you have guaranteed a Common Sense Resolution, without hassles, and my Unconditional Satisfaction.

Get to it, please.

A

—–Original Message—–

From: Member Services [mailto:memberservices@sunrocket.com]

Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 5:01 PM

To: Alec Saunders

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th

Notice (#6554-59788935-6420) re (ticket# 1000358280)

Dear : Alec Saunders,

Thank you for contacting SunRocket.

This is with regards to your intentions of canceling your SunRocket service. However, we are unable to process cancellations via e-mail.

Please contact us at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight EST, 7 days a week) and we would be glad to help you.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please use this ticket number, 1000358280, as reference to this matter.

Our customer support team will be able to extend to you the same support.

Sincerely,

Kim agent# 29488

SunRocket Member Services

If you have further questions, please visit our website at www.SunRocket.com where you can find answers by simply logging into your account. If you are unable to find your answer online, you may contact a Member Services representative via email at memberservices@sunrocket.com, or by phone at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight ET, 7 days a week).

—–Original Message—–

>From (alec@iotum.com)

Sent: Nov 28, 2006 8:26:32 PM

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th

Notice (#6554-59788935-6420)

Stacy,

While this problem is being resolved, would you at least assure me that you’ve suspended the account?

Many thanks for your continued assistance in resolving this issue.

A

—–Original Message—–

From: Member Services [mailto:memberservices@sunrocket.com]

Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:01 PM

To: Alec Saunders

Subject: RE: FW: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th

Notice (#6554-59788935-6420)

Dear SunRocket Member,

Thank you for your email. I understand that you do not want to call in.

I also am very sorry with your dissatisfaction with our service. You will have to call in to cancel your account. This account will remain open until you call in. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Member Services

Stacy26949

1000358280

_____

From: Alec Saunders [mailto:alec@iotum.com]

Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:25 AM

To: invoice@sunrocket.com

Subject: RE: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th Notice

Dear SunRocket,

I have had extensive conversations with your team on this already. You may reference this web site, where the entire conversation has been posted:

http://saunderslog.com/2006/11/20/cancelling-sunrocket-via-email/

Please cancel the account.

A

———-

From: SunRocket [mailto:invoice@sunrocket.com]

Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:46 AM

To: Alec Saunders

Subject: SunRocket Invoice – Credit Card Payment Declined 4th Notice

Reference B2

Dear Alec Saunders,

Thank you for being a valued SunRocket Member.

This is your 4th reminder that we have been unable to secure payment for SunRocket service as described on your invoice #1436038 because your credit card has been declined by your credit card company or bank. Your account will be suspended if we do not hear from you.

Your account currently has an outstanding balance of $9.95, which requires your prompt attention. You must update your credit card information as soon as possible to ensure your account remains in good standing. You can do so by logging onto your SunRocket account and following these steps:

1. Go to www.sunrocket.com <http://www.sunrocket.com/> and log into your account.

2. Go to My Account

3. Select Billing Information

4. Click on “Change” under Credit Card Account Information

5. Enter new Credit Card Account Information

6. Click on “Save”

Note, you may also use a valid debit or check card with your SunRocket account so long as it works like a credit card and carries the MasterCard or Visa logo on the front.

Once your account information is updated and valid, you can expect to be billed by SunRocket for the outstanding balance. You will receive an email communication when the charge has been processed.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Billing Team immediately at (800) 786-0132 (7 am to Midnight ET, 7 days a week) or email us at invoice@SunRocket.com <mailto:memberservice…

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Mark December 5, 2006, 5:25 am

    ohmigod, this is pure gold!

    You are now the bearer of the torch, for which many should be and are grateful, but I gotta ask: what were you thinking trying to reason with a support rep in the modern, postindustrial global economy :-) ?

    But, yeah, no cancellation policy to be found anywhere. If that doesn't tell you what you need to know, nothing will.

  • Alec December 5, 2006, 7:48 am

    Hey you know, I guess I am just pigheaded. I don't understand why they are so insistent on the phone call, except that I guessed this morning that it probably has to do with the $9.95 overdue bill. But if that was the case, I would have expected them to just come out and say so.

  • Twitchy December 5, 2006, 7:57 am

    Just my opinion here (and at the risk of offending people), but…why not just call them and cancel it? I understand that it's become a "principal of it" thing now, but we all know that customer service drones have specific rules to travel by, and can't bend them. So call and cancel. I must also say that I'm guessing you would be equally, if not more, incensed if someone emailed them from your account and cancelled it if you didn't want them to…then you'd be complaining about their lack of security. I think your view of this as bad customer service is slightly misguided…not that I'm supporting sunrocket, just their process here makes sense to me. I agree with you that telephone does not necessarily mean more secure, but they can ask you identity specific questions on the phone that you probably don't want to give in an email which leaves a track…such as credit card or ID information. Which I guess does make it more secure.

    I will say that the whole idea of them telling you to follow procedures from their website that don't actually exist there is assinine, but beyond that I can't see that they're doing anything overly silly here. Maybe I'm the only one.

  • Alec December 5, 2006, 10:34 am

    Hey Twitchy… stay tuned.

  • Mum December 6, 2006, 7:54 am

    Bizarre! Personally, I would have used the phone and I would not have been polite if the customer service agent insisted on trying to persuade me to keep on with the company. It seems to me that you have spent far more time on e-mails than you would have on a phone call. But, that's my persistent boy! Recently, we had such bad service from the local newspaper that we decided to cancel it. The person on the other end did not even want to know why! Your Dad had to ask her if the paper was not interested to know why a customer was cancelling the paper.

  • Jason December 7, 2006, 1:25 pm

    If they threaten to cancel for non payment, threaten them with a charge reversal through your credit card. That has at least two effects.

    1) They pay a fee to contest it.
    2) They get a black mark against their account which increases their ongoing settlement fees.

    The credit card companies are all very protective of their cards, and they lean towards the consumer in online transactions. Of course, it just escalates everything, but if it's at the point of threats, it's already lost.

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