The KellyAnne Conway School of Customer Service

It’s just a few weeks into a new year and unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been exposed to interviews with White House Counselor KellyAnne Conway. She has masterfully demonstrated how to dodge questions, provide “alternate facts” and generally frustrate the media in their efforts to get to the truth. In a recent interaction with Samsung, I’m convinced that the customer service agent received training from KellyAnne, as I’ve never experienced such a roundabout set of back-and-forth email communications from any major brand — ever!

KellyAnne Conway[Editor’s note: Update — Today, White House officials told CNNMoney that Kellyanne Conway has been sidelined from TV appearances because her comments last week about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn contradicted those of the White House. On Fox News, she denied being sidelined.]

It’s just a few weeks into a new year and unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been exposed to interviews with White House Counselor KellyAnne Conway. She has masterfully demonstrated how to dodge questions, provide “alternate facts” and generally frustrate the media in their efforts to get to the truth.

In a recent interaction with Samsung, I’m convinced that the customer service agent received training from KellyAnne, as I’ve never experienced such a roundabout set of back-and-forth email communications from any major brand — ever!

Let me start with a little background: I don’t know about you, but I am not happy when it comes time to replace my mobile phone. Just as I get all my settings to work the way I want, and can flick screens, open apps and manipulate my device with minimal effort, the device inevitably starts to fail. First, it started shutting itself down when my power level fell below 50 percent, then it would freeze at the most inopportune moments, and finally, when it refused to hold any charge at all, I cried “Uncle!”

Okay, all you iPhone owners can start snickering now … because I own a Samsung Galaxy (and no, not the kind that self-ignites), and have done so since my Blackberry became a dangerously obsolete option (I still miss that qwerty keyboard!)

I braced myself for that ugly visit to the AT&T store. The one where no one seems to know how to import my contacts, or set up my email; true in keeping with my past experience, I was in the store for a full two hours and left with my old phone, a new phone and a promise to return in 24-hours after I had figured out how to set up my Exchange Server email myself. But that’s a story for another day.

The fun really started after I was upsold a Samsung tablet for $0.99 in the AT&T store. That probably should have been my first clue …

About 24-hours after my purchase, I received an email from Samsung congratulating me on my Tablet purchase and offering me 30 percent off on a tablet cover. Since I planned to carry my Tablet in my bag as a notepad, I figured a cover was a wise purchase decision. I copied the promotional code, and clicked the link.

The landing page presented me with a number of colorful Tablet cover options. I carefully looked at each one, compared the colors, the way they opened/closed, made my purchase selection, pasted the promotional code and checked out.

But when the Tablet cover arrived 10-days later, it was too big for my Tablet!

I immediately went to the Samsung customer service link and advised them of my plight. The customer service agent, Brian, started the conversation just like KellyAnne had taught him. Repeat the key word used in the question, but take your answer in another direction.

Even though I had clearly laid out the details of my transaction, Brian advised me that if my tablet type and the tablet cover purchased “matched” I would be offered a full refund. Since this was my first clue that there was a “tablet type” we all know where this is going … clearly they were not going to match because the cover didn’t fit!

After a very convoluted set of email exchanges, it turns out there are multiple tablet types, and even though Samsung knew what type of tablet I had purchased (it’s all about BIG data!), it never occurred to Samsung marketing people to send me to a landing page that presented tablet covers that would actually fit the device I had purchased. Instead, knowing I might own multiple tablets and want to purchase one for every tablet I owned, they presented me with all their tablet cover options. Never once did they point out “make sure you select a tablet cover that fits YOUR particular tablet type” or “Hey you idiot, there are multiple tablet types. Check your receipt to learn which tablet type you purchased and match it to the tablet cover.”

Call me dumb, but I honestly thought marketing would have linked their email to a landing page with covers that fit my device, and then offered a link to additional covers in case I owned additional devices. Now that would have made for a smooth customer journey.

Brian was not very helpful either. He ignored any facts relating to the email conversation I presented, he was dismissive of any data exchanges between AT&T and Samsung, and his reality was that I made a purchase error … and it was all my problem. Golly gee, KellyAnne trained you very well!

Now I can’t decide if I should pay to return the cover and get a new one, or simply sell the cover on e-Bay or sell the cover and the Tablet and call it a day. If you’re interested in any of these options, email me and I’m sure we can cut a deal that doesn’t involve Russia.

Verizon’s 180 on Unlimited Data

Unlimited data: for many, it’s a core requirement of their mobile plans. So when Verizon killed the option for existing users in 2012 … well, customers were none too happy. But the other three major telecoms? They probably felt like they had won the Super Bowl, and have spent the last five years reminding anyone and everyone that they’re NOT Verizon.

Unlimited DataLet’s kick today’s post off with this: I have been a customer of AT&T, Verizon, Straight Talk, and Sprint … and Sprint is my current mobile carrier because, when it came down to it, I needed a plan with unlimited data at a certain price point. Now you know my mobile biz.

Unlimited data: for many, it’s a core requirement of their mobile plans. So when Verizon killed the option for existing users in 2012 … well, customers were none too happy. But the other three major telecoms? They probably felt like they had won the Super Bowl, and have spent the last five years reminding anyone and everyone that they’re NOT Verizon.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, T-Mobile used two of its four ads to specifically call out Verizon, with the other two ads focusing on its unlimited data offerings, explained by Justin Bieber in one and Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog in the other. Sprint’s single Superbowl commercial also called out Verizon … and got dark:

https://youtu.be/w_8ms2RzSYk

Yowza.

Oh, and Sprint nabbed Paul Marcarelli, the “Can you hear me now?” guy after Verizon ended his contract in 2011, and has been using him in commercials as well. Ouch.

And you can’t forget that the customer base has been eaten into by the likes of T-Mobile.

Yet still, Verizon put out ads like the one below, rallying against unlimited data, stating that consumers rarely use more than 5GB.

https://youtu.be/hzYOr-CeRCs

This ad ran from mid-January to early February of this year … and then on Feb. 12, Verizon announced, “Oh hey … we have an unlimited plan now.”

Say what?

https://youtu.be/4Zf1NLj_FGA

Now, in my opinion, this is where the marketing whiplash comes in. Verizon went from “You don’t need more than 5GB of data, and here’s a great price” to “here’s some unlimited data on a great network.” Okay … but it’s been FIVE YEARS.

Verizon, you’ve been the butt of jokes made by T-Mobile and Sprint. Many customers have jumped ship. And Sprint now has the actor who provided possibly the catchiest of catchphrases in telecom, who was apart of the Verizon family for over nine years, working for them.

And yet you present your new unlimited plan like someone ordering “the chicken” on an airplane.

It’s underwhelming. And a little off-putting. Why not own it? Own the fact that you’ve finally listened to what consumers want, not what you think they should have.

Or, and I realize this could be risky, make a little fun of yourself. Everyone else has … I think it would have been hilarious to see the marketing team come up with a series of ads where Verizon is upset over being picked on, breaking up with its spokesperson only to see him run into the arms of another carrier, and then finally coming to the realization that it needs to get with the times and get back on the unlimited bandwagon.

Because an unlimited plan isn’t mic drop worthy anymore. It’s the norm.