Customer service (again)

More so than ever, I am convinced that we are in the midst of some form of commercial decay. The accountants have had too much say in how businesses are run for far too long. This started in the late 1980’s and is continuing to get worse.
There are many reasons to be in business. The one that is topmost in almost every business these days is profit. Which, of course, is the cornerstone of existence, because without it a business will eventually cease to be and people would lose jobs. But, other reasons, such as being the best at doing something, keeping customers happy, supplying things that customers actually want and general goodwill are no longer reasons on their own merit. They are only valued if they are are profitable enough, and only then if they are profitable in the short term.
Fake Steve Jobs has recently taken
AT&T in the USA to task over this, since they appear to be skimping on investment in their own infrastructure.
Every time you phone a company, and find you have to repeat your complaint multiple times, or can’t understand a word that the offshore call centre operator is saying, or a company fails to deliver something you’ve paid for and it takes many days to get a refund you are seeing another case where profit is valued more highly than something else that is important.
Not a week goes by without seeing a good example of this decay. Last night alone, our Tescos delivery failed to come (maybe, it was the 7 inches of snow), but maybe a phone call explaining their problems, or even an email. Maybe an offer of reattempting delivery today? Afraid not, all our slots are taken until after Christmas - overtime anyone? Extra effort to help customers that have been let down? They can take our money instantly, but the refund takes 3-5 business days, so when we went to buy the shopping today, twice the weekly shop money has been debited from our account until Tesco or Natwest get around to letting us have the first lot back.
Anyway, I wanted to write again about switching Broadband providers. Broadband in this country is going to the dogs. Five years ago, when I had been forced to switch from cable to ADSL by a house move, I did some research and found that Pipex was one of the best - and they were. They gave me exactly what I wanted, a bare wires service - I provided the router and they provided a connection. No proxies, no traffic shaping, no filtering email ports. And it was the speed they advertised - brilliant. I recommended them to several people, and how embarrassed am I by the recent rounds of acquisition. Pipex got bought by Tiscali, one of the broadband providers that had the lower reputations when I did my original research. Almost overnight the quality dived. Now they have merged with TalkTalk.
My father has had no end of trouble since Pipex became Tiscali. Where he lives there are NO unbundled operators, which means that every provider is actually provided by BT.
About a year ago, my parents were constantly irritated by the loud buzzing on their phone. They reported the problem to BT, who weren’t interested since testing showed that the noise was caused by the Broadband. They said it was Pipex’s problem. Pipex did tests and said the broadband was working fine, hence it wasn’t their problem, but it could be my parent’s equipment (router or microfilters), or wiring in the house. Being a gadget freak, I had spares and we could also rule out the wiring. The problem continued despite equipment swaps and running everything off the master socket. My parents jumped through hoops, getting an old wired phone out the loft, making many phone calls to each, getting myself to try another router, other microfilters - moving equipment from the study to the living room for days on end. Buck passing continued, and no-one would come out. In the end, my dad accepted the threats of a £120 callout charge from BT should they find the fault to be his equipment, OR the broadband providers.
What he, and I, couldn’t understand is that the broadband provider subcontracts back to BT anyway, since the local exchange doesn’t have any unbundled providers, so in effect the issue only rested with one entity. Why should my dad give a shit about which department it was?
So, they came out, and it was wet wiring in the street. One month, 20 odd phone calls, many hours of aggravation and it was sorted, by the first company my dad rang who did everything in their power to avoid responsibility. Did anyone care how much goodwill they destroyed? I don’t think so.
This story has a second part, when my dad decided that he should put everything with one company, so that he would only have one company to talk to if there was a repeat of this issue. I’ll post that part in the next couple of days.
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