While buying on the Internet is a) easy, b) fast, c) frequently less expensive, it can also be frustrating, particularly when there is a customer service issue or a return to be made. Granted, some companies such as Amazon.com make returns easy, by making the entire process of a return as easy as the buying process, and even providing free return shipping if the error is theirs.
However, sometimes you really, really need to communicate with a human. Email, while faster than snail-mail, is simply too slow for these types of issues. This problem has even led to the creation of some websites that post "hidden" customer service numbers.
Netflix, after experiencing its first decline in subscribers since its founding in 1998, has decided to apply the personal touch.
Online movie rental company Netflix Inc. said on Tuesday it has ended e-mail customer support and shifted to a 24-hour hot line that customers can use to talk to a real person in a Portland, Ore., suburb.
Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said that the shift to phone service had been planned for several quarters and that it was not in response to the decline in subscribers.
"We continue to improve what is already the best customer experience on the Internet," Swasey said.
The choice of a U.S.-based customer support site is a definite plus. Although it is possible to get customer support in other countries, and remedy problems, it should be apparent to many that frequently it is necessary to escalate to a U.S.-based escalation team in order to get full resolution.
Despite Netflix's denials, the drop in subscriber numbers has to be a concern. Netflix said it lost about 1 percent of its subscribers in
the April-June quarter. For those who are interested, the toll-free number
for Customer Support is (877) 638-3549.