Archive for smartphones

Services Marketing: Blog 1

Posted in Services Marketing with tags , , , on January 15, 2013 by Stewart

Service provider:  Bell Mobility/Visions Electronics

Type of service: Telecommunications

Date: Initial interaction was on December 26th 4:00pm

Price: Approximately $75/month

Overall Satisfaction: 2/7

Chapters covered: 1 – 3

Topics covered (page numbers in textbook): Technology Enabling Customers and Employees (15); Heterogeneity (21); Perishability (22); People as a function of the Services Marketing Mix (25); Service Gap 1 (37); Service Gap 4 (44); Explicit Service Promises (63); Word-of-Mouth Communication (64)

Likelihood of Return: 3/7

Since both my friend and I are committed to contracts with this company we have no option but to continue to pay the company for their services for the length of the contract.  After the contract expires I will be looking for a new provider who will hopefully offer better service.  I would not use Bell again in the future because I have no way of knowing if I will be left with a similar situation as my friend was.


This encounter officially began on Boxing Day of 2012 when my friend and I went to Visions Electronics to purchase a new phone for him on a three year contract.  The entire interaction with the service provider (Bell) began much earlier than Boxing Day, thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Confirmed Costs

Having had nothing but good experiences with Bell my friend naturally intended on staying with them when it came time for him to get a new phone.  He had broken his previous phone crowd surfing at Rifflandia and had already broken his interim replacement phone within a few weeks of having it in his possession as well.  With his own experience and those of some of his friends which he had received through word-of-mouth (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 64) heavily factoring into his decision he decided to stick with Bell as a provider.

Since he was about to head into the third year of his contract he decided to find out what his cancellation costs would be in advance of heading into the store on Boxing Day when he knew that it would be busy and there wouldn’t be time to check on small details.  With my help we used the Bell website and phone service to confirm doubly what his cancellation costs would be.  Technology enabled the customer to quickly find out what his costs would be without any human interaction (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 15).  The app said that his costs would be just over $200 which seemed about right given that he only had one year left on his contract.

In-Store Purchase

Having only had positive experiences with both Visions and Bell to this point we headed in on Boxing Day to make the purchase and sign the new phone contract.  Due to the heterogeneity of services we were greeted with a much different experience than we had been in the past; this was partially influenced by the fact that we had new and different demands than we had had in the past (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 21).

Re-Confirmed Costs

Before making the purchase official and signing the contract we had to contact Bell by phone to cancel the old contract so that we would be eligible for the “new subscribers” bonuses of a discounted phone and a gift card with the activation.  To do this the Visions employee called Bell’s call center to cancel the contract.  This is where things started to get interesting; the people on the phone had clearly had different experiences in several parts of the services marketing mix (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 26).  The employee on the phone had different education and training which caused him to give different information then the employee in the store; similarly, he may have been working under a different rewards structure that provided benefits for achieving goals that were different than those the employee at Visions was working under (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 25).  In the end, the employee told us that the total cancellation costs would be $260 which we confirmed multiple times before cancelling the contract.  In our eyes, this was an explicit service promise that Bell had made to us before we cancelled the contract.  As we were about to find out Bell did not feel that they had made a personal promise to us and they were about to deliver something very far from what they had originally promised (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 63).


We elected to continue on with the cancellation despite the $60 discrepancy between the original cancellation costs and the costs we were quoted over the phone.

Left Store

A little disappointed by the extra costs but happy with the money that the sale had saved us we left with the new phone.

Bell Calls

About two weeks after the transaction was completed my friend received a call from Bell.  Due to Gap 4 – the communications gap – there was inadequate horizontal communications between sales and operations departments at Bell (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 44) and my friend was told that there would be an addition $300 charge to his credit card for a previously completely unmentioned “data cancellation fee”.

This fee seemed to carry an exorbitantly high price that had no ties to any realistic consumer perceptions of value and Bell did not seem readily able to provide an explanation as to why this price was so high.  Bell even went so far as to deny that we had spoken with them at all when we cancelled the contract; we pointed out to them that we could not have cancelled the contract without speaking to them first and they backed off of this claim.

Since the phone was a perishable service it was also un-returnable so there was no way to keep the original contract and avoid the extra charges because the contract and phone could not be re-sold (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, pp. 22-23).


This brings us to the first provider gap, Gap 1 which covers inadequate service recovery (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 37). After frustrating the customer by raising the costs not once but twice during the process they had created a very frustrated customer.  When we called back to tell them that there had been no mention of this new fee during the purchase process we were greeted with hostility and with an employee with no interest in listening to customer complaints (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013, p. 37).  The first three employees that we talked to completely failed to make amends for their communication failure.  Finally, we reached a manager who told us that he would look into it.  After waiting on hold for 15 minutes (presumably to listen to the original phone call although he did not tell us why we needed to wait) the manager came back on the phone and simply told us that the charges had been cancelled without any explanations, apologies or attempts to explain who had been in the wrong or take any responsibility for his employee’s actions.

Examining Loyalty Going Forward

The three main factors in determining customer loyalty over the long term are: satisfaction, trust and switching costs (Harsandaldeep & Harmeen, 2012, pp. 49-51).  Even though we had a low satisfaction experience that made it challenging to trust Bell going forward the cell phone industry is structured in such a way that the switching costs are so extremely high that the customer has little ability to switch or away from a company after a bad experience.

Post-Purchase Feelings and Emotions

It can be said that “the only economic and social justification existence of any business existence is to create customer satisfaction” (Igwe & Ogwo, 2012, p. 84) amongst all users of their service.  After this experience I was feeling as if Bell’s only justification for its existence was to make more profit from the users while putting minimal emphasis on customer satisfaction after the initial purchase.

This interaction left me with a sour taste in my mouth and wishing that there was some way for me to change my own cell provider without incurring costs that my friend had.  Overall, I was disappointed with the service that I received and angry that I had been deceived about the costs of purchasing their product.




Works Cited

 Harsandaldeep, K., & Harmeen, S. (2012). Validating Antecedents of Customer Loyalty for Indian Cell Phone Users. The Journal for Decision Makers, 49-51. Retrieved January 14, 2012, from

Igwe, S., & Ogwo, G. (2012). Some Key Factors Influencing Attitudes to Patronage of GSM Services: The Nigerian Experience. International Journal of Business & Management, 84. Retrieved January 14, 2012, from

Zeithaml, V., Bitner, M., & Gremler, D. (2013). Services Marketing. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.