Service design is a part of your brand, and bad design can ruin your day.

I know it's not a big deal. And I know this title is dramatic.

But...the sheer amount of wasted human energy in order to half-design something, or worse–Intentionally design something that's horrible—can ruin a persons day, week, month, year, or even their life! I mean just think of bad service design at hospitals. I think about it all the time. Literal life or death situations are designed poorly, every single day.

Again. Dramatic, I know. But not untrue.

To chill things out a bit, and be a touch more practical, check out this awful downgrading experience from Spotify. I recently downgraded from Premium down to Free, after paying for it for...ever? Since they offered paid plans probably.

"Love" how they change the product so it doesn't behave normally at all.

Why offer your product for free in a way that doesn't behave similarly to the way the paid version does? This is just called Pandora, isn't it? Whatever. Fine.

Oh great. Massive text ads telling me what I can't do. Thanks for making it huge.

Why are you giving me so much aesthetically massive information trying to persuade me not to cancel? I'm just trying to cancel this service. It's not a big deal for me, but you're making it a big deal. Am I about to die because of this? No. So why are you making it feel like I'm about to die?


Oh great. Guilt. My favorite feeling.

Part of this is clever, I'll give them that. I like that the tracks spell out something, that's neat. But the messaging and feeling overall is guilting me to keep my account.

I never write negative support in those "Would you recommend." or "Why are you leaving" forms. For this one. I did. And I left a lot. And now I'm writing this about it. That's how frustrating this experience was.

Why did I write a lot about this, and why am I still writing right now?

I've used Spotify forever. I get they didn't pay people well, but that's a problem that's industry/world/everything-wide really. I'm not letting them off the hook, but they provide a lot of value generally...However. I started shopping around and seeing who pays out more to artists. And also who offers a better service, and for the last year or so I landed on a combo of Tidal and Soundcloud. Which is probably wrong and I'm out of my mind for doing that, but I kind of don't care? It works for me.

Spotify has lied to me for years and I'm tired of that.

Remember when Spotify announced Spotify Hi-Fi in February of 2021!? 2 years ago?! I do.

Since then, Apple Music has had Lossless audio, Tidal has, and I believe Soundcloud has too, but I'm too lazy to look that up right now. (Just being honest).

Both Apple Music and Tidal sound significantly different (better) to me, and I'm not being some snob telling you what speakers or headphones to buy. I'm just saying—everything I listen to on there sounds better. Just by default. I pay literally double just for that. (And because I hate Apple Music with a passion, but that's an entirely different topic to write about)

5 days ago Spotify's CEO said "coming at some point."

Great. So maybe it'll arrive eventually. What a great announcement. Also love that they introduced and stopped shipping the Car Thing—A somewhat random device that presumably very few asked for, given it's ultimate demise.

Looking for the opposite of a bad time?

Check out TunnelBear.

This is how you downgrade.

TunnelBear was such a memorable experience, I'm literally happy to pay them anytime I need a VPN or other things they offer. I just feel like they care about what they're doing. They're having fun. And crucially—They're not making me feel like trash for doing a trivial task any human with technology may do—Cancel a thing they were using.

The logo: Questionable. A few other design details: Questionable. The service: Functional. The energy: Silly and contagious. For a thing that could be boring and make me hate my life (VPN stuff?) they could go all Verizon or New York Times and make me call them or talk to a human or a chat bot to confirm that I indeed would like to cancel my service, but they don't do that!

They make it fun to cancel. They make it memorable. And I've not only come back, but I've told friends about it. I've shown it off at meetings at multiple jobs I've had. It's just a good example of humans doing human things, and not business bros making stupid KPI moves that ruin human lives, but move business metrics.

Things you say, and the way you treat people affect the way people feel about you. If you say one thing, and do another, it's a bad time. When it comes to Spotify's service and design—it just doesn't behave in a way I believe in anymore. So until that changes, I'm pretty alright being done with it.