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Monday, September 27, 2010

Fixed-line telecoms providers have a lot to learn about customer service

Iain Graham writes:

Woe is me!  I recently did a foolish thing, I tried (and unfortunately succeeded in) changing my home broadband supplier!  Let me begin at the beginning...

For some time I had been bombarded by marketing material from my landline supplier, asking me to add their broadband service to my existing account and get a 'good deal' on the whole thing. Eventually I gave in and agreed as it would save about 40% on my existing combined bills. The clincher was when I discovered that my recently-acquired Vodafone (Un)Sure Signal device was gobbling up such huge amounts of my inclusive broadband 'allowance' that staying where I was would cost me even more!  Local mobile coverage meant that going 'mobile only' wasn't an option. So after 5 years of uninterrupted service backed up by a superb customer experience, I sold my soul to a company with a lot of promises of Utopia at half price!  Foolish boy!!

It all started well enough with virtually a daily update on the progress towards 'switchover' day although, looking back, most of the communications were thinly disguised marketing pieces to sell me yet even more services!  I did check with them that when 'switch over' happened, there would be no interruption of service as I run a business from my home relying on internet connection. An explicit question asked of a real person. I received every possible assurance that the 'switch over' would be seamless, even though I was not going to change my wireless router and use the one they supplied. Thus reassured, I slept easily in my bed!

The day of switchover arrived!  Champagne corks were popped and fatted calves sacrificed as the appointed hour of 11 am approached. I made one further call to the company to check about compatibility of router & supplier and again was reassured completely. (One hopes these calls of mine were being recorded for training purposes!)

11am arrived at last and in great anticipation I launched Microsoft Explorer on its new high-powered but cost-effective wave. Nothing, nada, zilch!  No internet, no emails, no service. In a moment of madness I decided to try their customer service department. Now, don't get me wrong, I love music - pop, classical, hard rock, indie, hip hop, greenhouse, rapping, not a problem - but after hours, yes, hours of listening to it played down a handset, only being interrupted by being told that "my call was important, I was in a queue and someone would be with me soon", even my well-known patience and levels of tolerance were being tested!  I was pushed from one department to another, all of whom required that I give them my account number, confirm my address, and give them my inside leg measurement before they would speak to me. Everything was being tested (including my patience) and they were eliminating faults one by one, and so the day ended!

"Switchover plus one"!  I was now connected and being dealt with by the "advanced solutions" team. Thank goodness for that, I thought!  They asked me for the manufacturer and serial number of my router. This was new, I thought!  I gave it to them and almost at once came back the reply "Oh no, we have never supported that router with our broadband, you will have to use the one we supplied"!  I have to admit I was terse and tense in my response expressing my disappointment at this news. After all I only rang twice specifically to check that very fact!  (I have good reasons for wanting to use my existing router, too many and boring to go into here).

I was then given the number of the router manufacturer, told to contact them and they would be able to help and get me up and running. (As I'm sure I've mentioned previously, I am to computers and technology what the late Cyril Smith was to hang gliding, and so I am completely reliant on others to help me!)  Therefore without further ado I rang said router manufacturer (more time spent listening to muzak), and there a very helpful gentleman, from India I think, advised me that he could not help as the router was so old, it was no longer covered by the warranty, therefore I would need to ring another number to get help. Oh good, I exclaimed, and rang the new number supplied. (More muzak). This call was also very important to them and would be answered as soon as possible. Apparently I was number 37 in the queue!

It was now 11am, 24 hours after the switchover, 24 hours since I had been disconnected from the known world. At this point I was drinking heavily and had taken up smoking!

The phone was answered  by a linguistically-challenged gentleman who explained that they would charge £41.00 + VAT for the privilege of sorting me out!  No Pay - No Fix. Not quite the answer I was looking for!  I thanked him politely and decided to give the broadband supplier one more try, or at least to ask them to pay for any work that needed to be charged for. This attitude was not greeted with any enthusiasm by the people I now considered to be my enemy in the customer service department of (no I'm not going to mention their name!)  I did then refer to the fact that I had been lied to on several occasions about the compatibility of the equipment. I was referred to, and I quote, "the small print in the contract!!"

I think now they had an idea of just how cross I was and put me through to a person called Greg within the bowels of the broadband supplier. This was like a shining light in a world of Stygian gloom! This call started at 9.15am, and he promised that by the time he had finished with me all would be well. He explained that everything I had been told so far was absolute rubbish and he could fix it!  He was right!  The call was terminated at 12.45pm, three and a half hours later! (there was a pause in the middle of it for a 'comfort break')!  True to his word, he got it all working on all four computers in the building and with full, and fast internet connectivity. Hurrah!!  All companies should have a Greg!  This was on a Saturday, and I was happy!

Happy, that is, until on Monday morning, I found that although I could receive emails, I couldn't send any.

So with a heavy heart and a packed lunch at the ready, I rang the broadband SP again...

The moral of the story is:

"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is as well add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better". So said John Ruskin, an eighteenth century philosopher.

In other words; if you buy cheap, you buy twice!


Author: The Fonecast
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Categories: OpinionNumber of views: 664

Tags: vodafonefemtocellopinioninternetbroadband

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