We appreciate your patience, please continue to hold

This is a story about turning one lost customer into 10 lost customers.

I’m writing this entry while on hold with Vonage, the VOIP telephone company.

You see, I want to cancel my account (wasn’t using it — quality too bad) and Vonage is trying to stop me canceling.

It’s like a war of wills.

First, you can’t do it online; you have to phone. That put me off doing it for 4 weeks.

Hoping I’d forget about it and give up.

But now I’m calling.

I spoke to one agent, who said I’d have to speak to a “customer service rep” to cancel. So she put me back on hold, for five ten 15 minutes.

Hoping I’d give up.

The “customer service rep” will, no doubt, try everything they can to get me to stay.

[Update, I have been offered incentives to stay, but I declined. Now I’m back on hold for 3 minutes.]

Hoping I’ll give in.

[Update: Success. Account canceled.]

This is the thing: As every minutes passes, I’m less likely to return to Vonage, less likely to recommend them… and as 10 minutes pass, I’m more likely to tell others about my bad experience. And here I am blogging about it.

So instead of losing just one customer, they’re potentially losing countless others, too.

Is that the way to build a business?