When I feel wronged by a company, I am a pain in the ass .  And I have a method for making myself so.

That method was proven again this morning when I received a call from the executive offices of Verizon with a promise that the caller would be my advocate for fixing a problem with our internet connection.

Trying to get satisfaction from a customer service rep is usually a waste of time.  They are trained to minimize losses.  They can give you myriad reasons why they won’t do a thing for you and with a smile in their voices.  That’s what they’re paid to do.  So, while I usually make an attempt to go through customer service channels, if I don’t get satisfaction, I ignore them and go right to the top.

No matter how large a company, one can usually uncover the email address of the CEO and other senior executives.  They don’t make it easy, but I can usually figure it out.  I go to the media relations or investor relations page of their web site.  Usually there you can find an email address for the PR or IR person because they want either the press or investors to contact them.  That’s their job.  Once you see the convention the company uses for its email addresses, you can usually then guess the CEO’s personal email.  I send her my complaint and copy some of her top lieutenants. 

It’s worked wonders.  Aer Lingus lost my daughter’s luggage when she went abroad to study.  It took three days for them to find it and when they did, it was broken open.  They not only paid for the luggage and the missing clothing (based on her word), but they also paid for her new clothing she had to buy while she awaited her clothes. 

AT&T earlier this year tried to charge me for an entire month of service when I cancelled with them on the first day of the billing cycle.  Although I had a “package” deal for both local and long distance, they tried to tell me what I cancelled was actually two different services and that the long distance they charge for an entire month.  I told them to go to hell.  Shortly thereafter, I began getting harassing calls from their collection department.  So I looked up the CEO of AT&T, figured out his email address and fired one off.  Later that day, I got a call from someone in the executive office telling me to disregard the charges.  It works like a charm every time.

But never as good as a recent experience.  When I tell friends of this, they are slack-jawed.  It was unbelievable customer service.

About a year and a half ago, I bought new eyeglasses.  In early April, I noticed a small crack in one of the lenses.  It looked like a miniature version of the kind of cracks you get on a car windshield.  Then a few days later, I tried to clean the lens after working in the yard and two smears wouldn’t come out.  The optician wouldn’t help me, saying the warranty was for only a year.

So I went to the top of Essilor, makers of Varilux lens.  The CEO responded to my email within a few hours and asked that a guy in its Dallas office call me.  He did and was solicitous, saying he was sure he could satisfy me, but first he needed to call the optician. 

He didn’t call me back the next day as he promised.  After about a week, I Googled the guy and sent him and the CEO another email.  The Dallas guy called me back later in the day, but with a surprising development.  He said the optician told him that I didn’t have Varilux lens; they were Zeiss lens.

Before I could attempt to extricate myself from this embarrassing development (for I then recalled that unlike in the past when I bought Varilux lens, this time they were indeed Zeiss lens), the Varilux rep made an astonishing offer.  Because he wanted to make me a future Varilux customer, he offered to replace the lens free of charge.  A rep of one company offering to replace another’s defective lens at no charge!

I pressed my luck when I told him I wasn’t satisfied with the service I received from the optician, so he found me another one who processed the order.

It was the most astonishing display of customer service I’ve ever encountered.  Sure enough, a few weeks later I received a new pair of lens.

It’s apparently working again this morning.  I use a wired Internet connection, but the FiOS service from Verizon comes with a wireless router.  I use a network switch to keep my wired connection, but my wife uses the wireless service.  It’s been intermittent since we got it.  She loses her connection several times a day.

At first, a customer service rep said the router had to be “in line of sight” to work.  That, of course, is ludicrous.  A second rep told her that Verizon offers “an internet connection” but doesn’t guarantee wireless service and that the router had to be away from monitors and electrical outlets and not on a carpeted floor.  Which is exactly the location the installer chose to put the router.  The Verizon rep said that a new installer could not be sent to relocate the router because, again, we had no guarantee of wireless service.

So I went to the Verizon web site, figured out the convention, found the CEO’s name and guessed at his email address.  This morning I received a call from Verizon’s executive office offering their assistance in fixing the problem. 

It remains to be seen whether the problem gets fixed.  But I got their attention.