We all know that market economy is not perfect but that the alternatives are worse. Right now I’m trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there are companies that seem to survive in a market economy despite apparent disregard for their customers. The example I currently have on my mind is CanalDigital, a Swedish satellite TV provider.

They have a habit of calling their customers offering additional channels and other products. Each and every time they have called me I have told them to take me off their calling lists since I hate wasting my time on such calls and I never buy anything during an unsolicited phone call. I probably asked about five times before I mailed CanalDigital’s customer support making the same request. I told them that I would cancel my subscription if they didn’t stop harassing me over the phone. They promised to take me off the lists. A few weeks later I got a call from – you guessed it – CanalDigital. I might have lost my temper a bit on some poor innocent student trying to make some extra money at a call center.

I wrote to customer support again telling them that they obviously hadn’t taken me off the lists after all and that I now therefore wanted to cancel my subscription. The answer I got was a simple: “We have received your cancellation. We will process it shortly.” No explanations, no excuses.

After a couple of weeks I got a call from – CanalDigital. For a second I thought that maybe a manager had heard of this and wanted to make things right. But no, it was a an unfortunate call center temp who wanted to talk about a special offer for a “faithful customer”. Kafka couldn’t have written CanalDigital’s sales manual better and there is some humor in this.

I can’t understand however hard I try that a company like CanalDigital can get away with this. I’m also confused about the purpose of harassing customers until they can’t take it anymore. Or am I a very odd customer who doesn’t want unsolicited phone calls at random hours?

I got a partial explanation a bit later. There was a person calling from customer support wanting to confirm my cancellation. I again tried, helpful as I am by nature, to explain the reason for my cancellation. He was not the least interested but instead offered me the explanation that the call center staff was not really employed by CanalDigital, meaning that CanalDigital couldn’t really be held responsible for their behavior. Maybe the customer support isn’t employed by CanalDigital either.

I confirmed my cancellation.

Edit: There were more calls from CanalDigital. I complained again. They promised to take me off all the list this time. Yesterday there was a new call. There was even a call to my daughter who doesn’t have anything to do with this except that I used to own her phone subscription. I tried to take the complaint to an arbitration organization, Telekomr√•dgivarna. It turned out that CanalDigital is not a member. Figures.