Daily English
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Practical English

1171 Cancelling a Service

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,171 – Cancelling a Service.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,171. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue about someone who no longer wants a certain kind of service. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Diana: You’ve reached customer service for Bully Services. How may I help you today?

Phillip: I’d like to cancel my service.

Diana: Why do you want to cancel?

Phillip: I’m switching to another company with cheaper services. I’m no longer under contract, so there should be no early-termination penalties.

Diana: Let’s take a look at your account. I’m sure we can make you an offer so you won’t want to discontinue service.

Phillip: I’ve made up my mind. I just want to cancel.

Diana: As a customer service rep, it’s my job to find a way to retain you as a valued customer. Please bear with me, sir.

Phillip: Really, I’m not interested in any offers you can make. No high-pressure tactics are going to work with me, so please just cancel my service.

Diana: Please, sir, be reasonable. I’m trying to work with you so you won’t miss out on our great deals. If you sign a new two-year contract or set up auto-pay, I can offer you . . .

Phillip: I’m not interested. I want to cancel – now!

Diana: Just let me tell you about these three plans that are available to you at a lower price. I know that deep down you don’t really want to cancel your service.

Phillip: I do want to cancel my service and I want to do it right now!

Diana: Sir, please! You’re being a little pushy.

Phillip: I’m being a little pushy?!

[end of dialogue]

This episode is called “Cancelling a Service.” A “service” is anything that someone does for you – in this dialogue, what a business does for you. You can buy a service or you can buy a product from a company. A “product” is a thing that you buy. A “service” is something that someone does for you. For example, we talk about “phone service.” The telephone company provides you with the service. It does something for you. It connects your telephone to other people’s telephones. You could also have “television service,” “cable TV service,” where a company provides television stations to your TV so you can watch them.

Today, we’re talking about cancelling a service, meaning to decide to stop getting a certain service. The dialogue begins with Diana saying to Phillip, “You’ve reached customer service for Bully Services. How may I help you?” Diana works for this company, oddly called the Bully Services. She is part of the “customer service” department.

The “customer” is the person who buys something from a company. “Customer service” is the part of the company that takes care of problems that a customer may have. That’s the service that customer service provides. Phillip says to Diana, “I want to cancel my service.” “To cancel” (cancel) is to end something, especially a service like, well, whatever it is that Bully Services provides Phillip.

Diana says, “Why do you want to cancel?” Phillip says, “I’m switching to another company with cheaper services.” “To switch (switch) to” something or someone means to stop using one person or one company and use another person or company instead. You could switch products as well. I used to drink Starbucks coffee, and now I drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I’m switching the kind of coffee I drink. I’m switching to Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ Donuts is a company that makes donuts, but also coffee.

Well, in this example, Phillip is switching to another company that provides cheaper or less expensive services. “I’m no longer under contract so there should be no early-termination penalties,” he says. “To be under contract” means that you have signed a legal agreement called a “contract” (contract) and you are required, with this contract, to do something for a certain amount of time.

For example, if you buy a phone in the United States, it’s quite common for some companies to give you a discounted price, a cheaper price, if you also sign a two-year contract with that phone company. During those two years, you must pay your bills. You must get your telephone service from that company. That’s called being “under contract.” After the end of two years, you are no longer under contract. That’s what Phillip is referring to here. Although we’re not sure this is about phone service.

He says, “I’m no longer under contract so there should be no early-termination penalties.” The word “termination” comes from the verb “to terminate,” which means to end. You may remember the famous movie called Terminator. Well, a “terminator” is a person who terminate someone’s life, ends someone’s life. Here, we’re talking about “termination” as a noun in the expression, or term, “early termination.” “Early termination” means you end your contract. You cancel your contract before it’s over.

Now, when you do that – say, for telephone service – you usually have to pay the company a “penalty” (penalty). A penalty is some sort of fee, some amount of money you have to pay because you ended the contract early. So, an “early-termination penalty” is money you have to pay the company for canceling or terminating your contract before the end of the contract period.

Why do you have to pay a penalty? Well, because you no longer are going to be paying the company what you said you would pay under the contract. So, the company wants to get at least some money back, and it does that by putting a penalty into the contract itself. You agree to pay a penalty if you terminate the contract or cancel the contract early. Diana says, “Let’s take a look at your account.” An “account” (account) here refers to a list or record of all the interactions or transactions between you and the company. It’s going to be something the company has in its computers.

Diana says, “I’m sure we can make you an offer so you won’t want to discontinue service.” When you try to cancel your telephone service or your cable television service, sometimes the company will try to persuade you not to do it. Diana says, “I’m sure we can make you an offer,” meaning we can give something to you, “so that you won’t want to discontinue (discontinue) service.” “To discontinue” means the same as to cancel or to terminate service.

However, Phillip says, “I’ve made up my mind. I just want to cancel.” “To make up your mind” means to decide, especially after you have given a lot of thought to something, after you’ve thought about something for a long time. Diana says, “As a customer service rep” – (rep), meaning “representative” – “it’s my job to find a way to retain you as a valued customer.” “To retain” (retain) here means to keep or to continue to have you as a customer.

She then says, “Please bear with me, sir.” “To bear (bear) with” someone means to be patient with someone, especially if someone is taking a long time to do something. Phillip is not interested in being patient. He says, “Really, I’m not interested in any offers you can make. No high-pressure tactics are going to work with me, so please just cancel my service.” “High-pressure tactics” would be things that a company does or a salesperson does that make it difficult for you to say no.

A “high-pressure tactic” would include things that may sort of force you to do something because of the way the person is talking to you or because of what the person is trying to give you. If you go to a store and the salesperson comes up to you and is trying to give you things and says, “Here’s a free sample. Try this. Oh, no, you should try this,” the person is almost trying to force you to buy something. That might be considered an example of a high-pressure tactic in sales.

But Diana says, “Please, sir, be reasonable.” “To be reasonable” (reasonable) means to be logical, to be rational, or to be fair. She says, “I’m trying to work with you so you won’t miss out on our great deals. If you sign a new two-year contract or set up auto-pay, I can offer you . . .” And then Phillip says, “I’m not interested. I want to cancel – now!”

“Auto-pay” is when a company automatically takes money out of your bank each month or each year for the bill, for the money you owe that company for whatever service the company is providing. That’s called “auto-pay.” “Auto” (auto) comes from the word “automatic.” It happens every month or every six months or every year without you having to do anything extra. Diana says, “Just let me tell you about these three plans that are available to you at a lower price.”

She’s still trying to get Phillip to continue his service with this company. She says, “I know that deep down you don’t really want to cancel your service.” The expression “deep (deep) down” means your true emotions, refers to your deepest feelings, your real desires. Perhaps there are things that you don’t say or don’t talk about, but deep down you really believe or you really feel. You may say to someone you’re happy, but deep down you’re sad. “Deep down” refers to your true feelings or your true thoughts or your true desires.

Phillip says, “I do want to cancel my service and I want to do it right now” – that is, immediately. Diana says, “Sir, please! You’re being a little pushy.” “To be pushy” (pushy) means to be overly demanding, to insist that you get your way, that you get what you want. It’s a negative way of describing someone.

Now of course, Phillip here thinks that Diana is being pushy by trying to get him to renew or to continue his service with this company instead of simply canceling his service, which is what he requested. That’s why at the end of the dialogue, he’s surprised. He says, “I’m being a little pushy?!” He says it as though it were a question, but really he’s showing that he is surprised that Diana is saying this to him because she is the one who’s being pushy.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Diana: You’ve reached customer service for Bully Services. How may I help you today?

Phillip: I’d like to cancel my service.

Diana: Why do you want to cancel?

Phillip: I’m switching to another company with cheaper services. I’m no longer under contract, so there should be no early-termination penalties.

Diana: Let’s take a look at your account. I’m sure we can make you an offer so you won’t want to discontinue service.

Phillip: I’ve made up my mind. I just want to cancel.

Diana: As a customer service rep, it’s my job to find a way to retain you as a valued customer. Please bear with me, sir.

Phillip: Really, I’m not interested in any offers you can make. No high-pressure tactics are going to work with me, so please just cancel my service.

Diana: Please, sir, be reasonable. I’m trying to work with you so you won’t miss out on our great deals. If you sign a new two-year contract or set up auto-pay, I can offer you . . .

Phillip: I’m not interested. I want to cancel – now!

Diana: Just let me tell you about these three plans that are available to you at a lower price. I know that deep down you don’t really want to cancel your service.

Phillip: I do want to cancel my service and I want to do it right now!

Diana: Sir, please! You’re being a little pushy.

Phillip: I’m being a little pushy?!

[end of dialogue]

The best way to retain you as a loyal listener to ESL Podcast is to provide you with wonderful scripts, and that’s what our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, does every week. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
customer service – the department in a company or business that handles questions and complaints from customers and potential customers

* If you have technical questions about our product, please call technical support, but if you have questions about billing or your order history, please call customer service.

to cancel – to end something, especially to end an agreement to provide service

* We could save some money by canceling all these magazine subscriptions.

to switch to – to stop using or having one thing, and begin using or having something else

* Jasmin’s skin condition improved almost immediately after she switched to another brand of face lotion.

under contract – be required to follow the terms of a legal agreement during a specific period of time

* While you’re under contract with our modeling agency, you may not work with any of our competitors.

early-termination penalty – a fee that must be paid if one cancels a subscription or terminates an agreement before its end date

* The homeowners saved up enough money to pay off their mortgage early, but then were shocked to find out they would have to pay an early-termination penalty of several hundred dollars.

account – a record of all the transactions and other interactions between a business or organization and a particular individual

* It looks like you’ve created two ESL Podcast accounts with two separate email addresses.

to discontinue – to cancel; to stop a service; to no longer have or do something

* If they don’t pay their water bill by the end of the week, the city will discontinue service.

to make up (one’s) mind – to decide; to reach a firm decision, especially after a lot of thought and consideration

* He had a hard time making up his mind and deciding which boat to buy.

rep – representative; a person who officially presents the opinions, policies, or decisions of an organization in its interactions with a person or group

* The customer service rep couldn’t look up my account by my last name, so she requested my address and phone number.

to retain – to keep and have; to continue to have something

* They’re trying to remodel the home while retaining its 19th-century characteristics.

to bear with (someone) – to be patient with someone, especially when something is taking longer than it should

* We’re having some computer problems, so it might take longer than usual to look up this information. Please bear with me.

high-pressure (sales) tactics – sales techniques that are very forceful and make it difficult for a customer to say “no”

* Car salespeople are known for high-pressure tactics that make many customers feel uncomfortable, but they are effective at selling expensive cars.

reasonable – rational and logical, not demanding too much; fair and just

* The judge asked the jury to consider how a reasonable person would have reacted in that situation.

auto-pay – automatic payments; a system of having a bill be paid automatically each month, without the consumer’s involvement, usually as a deduction from a bank account or a charge to a credit card

* With auto-pay, you’ll never need to worry about mailing your payment on time each month – and you’ll save the cost of the envelope and stamp.

deep down – referring to one’s true desires, emotions, and feelings

* I know you’re frustrated with Jakob, but deep down, you know he’s doing these things for the right reasons.

pushy – overly assertive, insisting on one’s own opinion and/or demanding compliance from another person

* That saleswoman was so pushy, giving a dozen reasons why we should buy her product, and never listening to our objections.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Diana mean when she says, “it’s my job to find a way to retain you as a valued customer”?
a) She is responsible for keeping Phillip as a customer.
b) She is responsible for making sure Phillip receives excellent customer service.
c) She is responsible for getting the most money out of Phillip.

2. Which of these phrases best describes a pushy person?
a) Unfocused and unsure
b) Persistent and insistent
c) Friendly and open-minded

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
account

The word “account,” in this podcast, means to a record of all the transactions and other interactions between a business or organization and a particular individual: “Once you sign the rental agreement, you’ll need to create an account in your name with each utility company.” At a bank or investment firm, an “account” refers to the arrangement where the institution holds fund for a particular investor or saver: “We have a checking account, a savings account, and another account specifically for college savings.” The phrase “on account of (something)” means because of something: “She wasn’t able to go on her vacation on account of her bad back.” Finally, the phrase “to take (something) into account” means to consider something when making a decision: “Do your calculations take into account extra money needed for higher winter heating bills?”

to bear with (one)

In this podcast, the phrase “to bear with (one)” means to be patient with someone, especially when something is taking longer than it should: “The doctor asked me to bear with him while he looked up my medical history.” The phrase “to not be able to bear (something)” means to be very upset and overwhelmed, unable to handle something: “In the past year, my parents and my uncle passed away. If anyone else in my family dies, I don’t think I’ll be able to bear it.” The phrase “to bear (something) in mind” means to remember something and consider it in the future: “I’ve heard your opinion and I’ll bear it in mind when we select the final candidates.” Finally, the phrase “to bear the costs” means to take responsibility for paying for something: “Who will bear the costs if this project fails?”

Culture Note
Cooling-off Periods

Sometimes “purchasers” (people who buy something) experience “buyer’s remorse,” or strong feelings of “regret” (wishing that one had not done something) about the purchase and a strong desire to “undo” (make it so that something never happened) the sale. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a “cooling-off rule” that gives consumers three days to cancel certain sales. If the consumer changes his or her mind within 72 hours of the sale, he or she can cancel the service or return the product and request a full refund.

The cooling-off rule generally “applies” (affects; is relevant to) to sales made at a home or workplace, or at a temporary seller’s location. But it does not apply to home-based sales of less than $25 or other sales of less than $130, sales that are made online or over the phone, or products and services that are needed to “handle” (deal with; find a solution to) an emergency situation.

Some industries are “exempted from” (do not have to follow the rules of) the cooling-off rule. For example, the rule does not apply to transactions involving “real estate” (the sale of buildings and/or “property” (land)), insurance, and “securities” (investments). It also does not apply to “arts and crafts” (artistic objects made by hand, not manufactured in a factory) sold at fairs, malls, or schools.

The cooling-off rule might seem to be a “bad deal” (something that creates problems and is unfair) for the seller, but for some companies, it can be beneficial. When consumers have three days to “change their minds” (make a different decision), the purchase is associated with less “risk” (the likelihood of a problem). Since only some of the buyers will actually cancel the service, the company may actually make more sales and more money in the end.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b