Friday, June 6, 2008

The Opposite of Customer Service

This was just one of those weeks that makes a generally sane, calm, rational person want to SCREAM at the top of his respiratory fortitude. As opposed to the exceptional customer service mentioned in earlier posts on this page about companies like Pzizz and Adobe, I have had a series of absolutely awful experiences with some very large, very well-known, purportedly customer-oriented corporations. These have, in one case so far, driven me to sever a 20+ year relationship and threaten to do so (the jury remains out) on a second. Story #1:

An unnamed telecommunications provider (the nations largest) sends a third-party "customer service" rep around to the customers of the regional telecommunications provider that it recently consumed. "Sir, you get the same service in a different wrapper at a better price." great, right? Wrong. The first month saw a $20 increase in my bill. So okay, it's only one month and the dude did say my bill would go down by an average of $15 per month and maybe the Mrs. used the land-line for long distance instead of her cell...we'll give it another month. Another month brought us a $25 increase over the now fully digested predecessor company's typical bill. Maybe I was a rube. Maybe not. Either way I was lied to -- for me the unforgivable sin. Sent an e-mail to XX&X's customer service desk informing them that I considered myself ripped-off and was dumping them. Period. Return email: "Please, no, Mr. Muse, we'll give you your old plan back." Admittedly, a reasonable offer, but no... the VOIP vendor will be here to install on Monday. Segue to Story #2.

Go online to check out the local VOIP providers deals. Pretty good actually -- more than a 50% savings over XX&X's rip-off deal. Completed all of the online forms with all of the details about the package I want, installation options, keep the old phone number, address, etc. etc., etc. "Click here to complete order". Click. "Placing you into chat with a rep to confirm you order." Okay. Then this:
"Hi Mr. Muse, my name is Bill Smith, how can help you today?"
"I just placed a digital voice order. You're supposed to confirm that."
"You did? I don't see that. What is your account number, phone number, address, nearest cross street, last four digits of your SSN, and your secret password?"
"What?! I just spent 30 minutes filling out the answers to all of those questions on your online order form"
"You did? I don't see that. Is this your address?"
"That's a newly built apartment building, right?"
"No, Bill, it's the single family house I've lived in, and that your company has been billing me for cable at for the last 20 years".
"Really? What's your pre call number?"
"What's a pre call number?
"The number that our tech calls you on before he comes to your house to install your VOIP."
"Oh. That would be the same number I have already given you 3 times before"
"Okay. Sorry. We can schedule a tech next Monday"
"I thought you didn't have my order that I just filled out."
"It's okay, I have it now."

Seriously, I'm just not witty enough to make this stuff up. I now imagine this chat session as a Saturday Night Live sketch. A really funny one. I actually emailed the chat record to myself so I'd have it for posterity. "So how's the weather in Bangalore today, Bill?"... hopefully the tech doesn't have to drive that far to get here on Monday... Segue to Story #3? Nah -- it'll leave me a good (poor) customer service story for my next post. "Did you hear the one about the giant financial institution...?"


I am a lover of children's literature said...

Customer service is becoming a lost art and a lost cause these days. The only thing that a of customer service representatives seem to care about is getting paid and hell out of the office so they can party!

Customers themselves, in many cases, are left to defend for themselves!

So, sad; so sad!

Hootin' Anni said...

I came over to view your photography and ended up reading this entry.

I [I actually think we ALL have] have had this kinda thing happen all the time. The sales pitch is 100% malarchy if you ask me...always. And the consumer these days never have a choice of so many things, it's either like it or lump it attitude that sticks in my throat.

I say "I'm as mad a h e double l and I'm not gonna take it any more." And if I could, I'd boycott the gas stations! rofl

Nina said...

I was perusing your blog and I have to tell you it took me a minute to figure out the pic, but I get it now.

There is no longer "customer service" in this country. If you want service go to Ireland...the concept is still alive and well there.

What I love the most is at my work we switched from AT&T to Vonage, which is doing the job very well I might add, their customer service isn't all that great, but we haven't had but one issue, anyhow back to my story. AT&T now calls or their reps stop by my office to "get us back", the last rep informed me I was RUDE, when I told them to get OUT, their service is over priced and

Frankly, I want to know whatever happened to the "Customer is always right"? It doesn't matter if I am RUDE, you are in my office uninvited and I don't want your service.

Love your blog!