Perhaps like many of you, I carry a curiosity about meditation. I’ve heard so many positive reviews of the practice not only in the media, but also from close and trusted friends. So in late October when I discovered an opportunity to experience guided mediation free for 21 days I – and one of my closest and dearest friends – made the commitment.
This was an internet-based program delivered by none other than Deepak Chopra. If you are unfamiliar with Deepak, I’m tempted to say “Where have you been?”. He is a very famous and wise Indian-born American physician, champion of holistic health, author and speaker. I, like hundreds and thousands of others, have developed a deep respect for him and what he shares with the world.
The set up was simple. Each day a link to a meditation arrived in my inbox. If I missed a day, the links remained available, for a limited time, so I could catch up. I’ll say that while I failed miserably at creating a daily meditation practice, I did enjoy and experience some benefit from those I completed. So much so that, when it was over, it being Christmas, I decided to purchase the program as a gift for three like-minded friends.
Should I have been prepared for what transpired? Probably. As I write this story I’m squirming a bit because I think it reveals a naïveté of which I’m not proud. Right from the start of the 21-day challenge, participants were encouraged to purchase the program. The “free” part was definitely linked to an anticipated revenue stream, but I didn’t give this a lot of thought. I simply enjoyed what I received and decided to share it with others.
Some things about the purchase of the program were not clear. How would my friends receive it and when would they receive it? For example, could I organize my gift to arrive on Christmas Day? Could my friend who travels constantly easily access the meditations on her iPad? I thought perhaps I’d gain clarity as I moved through the purchase process so clicked my way to buying the first gift. My questions were never answered so … being The Phone Lady, I picked up the phone.
Again, I’m squirming. So freakin’ naïve! I called the Chopra Centre and expected to have a delightful experience. Why? Because it’s the Chopra Centre and Deepak is all about love and light and peace. This is not only who he is, but it is his brand. I expected to experience his brand.
I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice to say that I was hung up on twice, spoke with the most bored, uninterested individuals you can imagine, and was clearly told that my needs did not matter. I was shocked!
I placed three calls to the Centre. Not one of them was pleasant. I was received the way one welcomes a mosquito in a tent, not the way one welcomes a customer.
I also sent a tweet to the Chopra Centre – no response. And a tweet to Deepak – no response. And an email to an address at the website. Here’s the response:
Hi Mary Jane,
Since you purchased the download you will need to contact the download department. Below are the email and phone number to reach them.
It was the “download department” that had the “go pound sand” attitude so I didn’t follow up.
This experience left me feeling used. Instead of the message of peace and abundance attached to the meditation program, I was left with an experience of greed. Whatever the story is behind the scenes, that the Chopra Centre has contracted out to a call centre and are unaware of the inadequacies or that I happened to reach three miserable human beings in a company full of happy people … or whatever … I, as a paying customer now know I do not matter. Period.
Recently a new 21-day meditation program has been announced and my dear friend with whom I shared the first one is hoping I’ll join her again. Sorry, Tash, I can’t do it. The dichotomy between the values espoused in the meditation program and the Centre’s view of the participants is not something I can support. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. I’m keeping my credit card in my wallet!
But this experience was also a good learning curve and reminder. Our brand matters to our customers. They come to us because of that message and they trust that it’s truthful. And everything we do, from how we answer the phone to the free promotional programs we offer, must align with that brand or we create a betrayal.
Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
And if you have time, I encourage you to read another story, posted by my colleague Stephanie Holmes-Winton, about the $4.99 banana: http://themoneyfinder.ca/this-blog-post-cost-me-4-99/
Best wishes for a great week and happy dialing!