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Thursday, February 03, 2005


a simple thing 


It's like the system has been specifically set up to drive you mad. I mean it's only a small thing but then that's part of what makes it so infuriating...

You phone up the large company with the poor reputation for customer service and request that they do something simple. After a pleasingly short time on hold listening to the dreadful "you are on hold" theme tune you speak to a real human being in some part of the country where rents are cheap and unemployment is high and ask politely for the simple thing to be done. The polite customer service worker informs you that the simple thing will be done for you at some point in the next 24 hours. You thank them and hang up, thinking the while that, actually, that wasn't so bad. At least the call centre was in this country and there weren't too many multiple choice menus to get through before talking to someone.

Thus the prospect of phoning the large company with the really very poor reputation for customer service a second time is not too terrible. This is just as well as, after the requisite 24 hours have passed, and then a further 24, the simple thing has not been done. You take a charitable view: mistakes are occasionally made; large companies inevitably have to adopt complex systems in which individual requests may easily be lost; there's no reason to get angry and little to be gained by doing so. You phone the large company with the very poor reputation for customer service and again request that the simple thing be done. You are assured that this will happen in the next 24 hours. You thank the always polite customer service worker and hang up.

When, some days later, you again call the large company with the truly appalling reputation for customer service to again request that the simple thing be done you are beginning to be disappointed with them. Though you have no great facility for expressing anger you try to sound at least a little miffed. Customer service person number 3 is as polite as his predecessors and, detecting that your gruntledness has been dissed, he is also apologetic. Not content with merely logging a request for the simple thing to be done on the computer system he telephones the Department of Simple Things and speaks to someone there. He is assured that the simple thing will definitely be done in the next 2 days. He is convinced that this is so and tells me so. Two days seems like a come down from the ambitious claims of 24 hours that had gone before but that word "definitely" comes as considerable consolation. You thank him and hang up.

When time (and rather more of it than two days at that) passes and the simple thing remains undone you are not unduly surprised but you are a little disappointed in the company whose appalling reputation for customer service would appear to be altogether too generous. It's not just that they can't manage to do the simple thing; it's the fact that the simple thing can remain undone after three requests without, apparently, anyone noting the fact and taking some kind of action. Or if, bizarrely, there is some reason why the simple thing is not, after all, so simple to achieve, there has been no attempt made to contact you to explain that this is the case. You wonder if this is not possible as perhaps they have no record of your telephone number. But then you remember that the large company provides your telephone service. It seems altogether more likely that they're just shit.

Request number 4, which you intend to escalate from miffed to quite irate, is dealt with by a very polite customer service employee who hangs up very quickly after telling you that the simple thing will be done in the next 24 hours. You don't have time to express the opinion that you're sure it won't. Had you done so you would have been right.

There may have been a similar request number 5 but by now you've kind of lost count.

The next time you call the large company with an unparallelled reputation for utter uselessness in customer services that still in no way comes close to expressing how worthless and inept they actually are you have a plan. You will refuse to hang up until the simple thing has been done and you will employ escalating levels of carefully directed rage to convince the polite customer service employee it would be wise of him to ensure this happy outcome. Customer service employee number whatever reads through the notes of the previous customer service employees and recognises that this has gone on long enough. He will put you on hold while he talks to someone in the Department of Simple Things and finds out if there is any reason why the simple thing has not been done already and make every effort to ensure that it be done now without delay.

You hear 4 seconds of the dreadful "you are on hold" theme tune before the line goes dead.

You swear a good deal.

You write a long and boring entry on your weblog in which you coyly choose not to name the wretched bunch of wasters until the very end.

It's NTL. They're rubbish.


Comments:
Did you hear about a disgruntled NTL employee sabotaging the company's automated phone message last September so that customers were greeted with this less than welcoming corporate messge: it's well worth a listen -
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/3693256.stm

Although the wussy old BBC have bleeped out the swearwords. What a swizz.

 
Well you see what NTL cleverly do is treat their customer service employees appallingly badly so that they are better able to empathise with their callers.

All the same, I think the phone message in question arose from an honest mistake. The worker in question just got his script and an in house memo on company policy mixed up.

 
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