Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Consumer Research

Are you the type of person who does a lot of research before making a purchase? That's me - I'm the type that usually does a lot of research no matter how much something costs, if it's something I'm not familiar with.

I mentioned yesterday that I signed up to have AT&T's U-Verse internet and TV package installed this week. This time I did it backwards, though - I did my research after placing the installation order to see what other people think about the service. I guess my impulsive side that has an extremely pushy presence and very loud voice inside of me forced my hand to sign on the dotted line, drooling at the prospect of 18 MB/sec internet download speeds for less than I am paying for 5 MB/sec right now, and a $150 cash back offer to boot.

The reviews I found on the web are mixed. The earlier ones tend to be more negative than the recent reviews, which is a good thing. And there were a lot more complaints about the telephone service than the television service, and more complaints about the television service than the internet service. Since I am not ordering phone service and don't plan on keeping the television service, that, too, weighs on the good side.

I think a lot will depend on the roll of the dice and who's assigned to install this system.

One of the reasons I like shopping on is because of the numerous customer reviews. I always check those out very carefully before buying anything. You have to take them with a grain of salt, though, because there are some real idiots out there who obviously never thought to read an instruction manual or even the product description before they bought the item (and some who never even bought the item at all but just want to add their two cents).

Like the one woman who panned a GPS unit because it told her to turn right into a brick wall. Yes, if I turned precisely at the moment my GPS told me to turn, I would never manage to stay on the street but would instead bump up onto the sidewalk. Duh, you have to allow for some reaction time before turning, eh?

Most of the time it is fairly easy to discern which reviewers possess common sense versus which of them were sleeping when it was passed out to everyone. I'm trying to sort out all the U-Verse reviews that way but it seems there's no real consensus; there's valid complaints, balanced out by equally valid praise. Again, it seems that a lot has to do with the installer as well as what the sales rep promised in the first place (several people complained of being hoodwinked by the rep).

After reading the reviews I'm kind of wary as to what my experience is going to be. I hadn't thought of the possible pains of having holes drilled here and there, cables run all over the place, etc., and the resulting disruption. I guess I need to get a thorough understanding of exactly what they are going to do before they do it, and confirm that what the rep told me is truly the case.

I know at my office, our customers trust our repair technicians more than anyone else. They get the straight scoop from them about the equipment; they know the equipment the best, too. I think a lot of them get perverse pleasure out of making the sales reps look stupid, like, "He told you the machine could do what?? Now why would he say something crazy like that?" (shakes head with combination of astonishment and disgust)

Anyway, even though I did considered canceling the order, I decided to go against the adage of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and am instead going to give this U-Verse stuff a spin. Hey, it's an adventure. Space is not the "last frontier." I'll let you know what happens!

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