call centres

Fingers crossed – “problem sorted”

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Regular readers of my ongoing ‘experiences with mobile providers’ will be aware of my recent run in with T-Mobile. You will be pleased to hear that the matter has now been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. This is great news, but it is rather tiring having to resort to an email to the CEO to get that resolution!

20121230-111638.jpgThe gentleman I dealt with in the CEO’s office at T-Mobile was very helpful, polite and most importantly was in a position to deal with my problem quickly and efficiently. So, I am grateful for his actions, but really rather aggrieved that it always takes this level of input from me to get things sorted.

Now I accept that these are very large organisations, but that is no excuse for the quality of service failing. I cannot help but point the finger at call centres – they are a great way of saving money, and can work for basic issues. But, if the matter in hand is even slightly ‘off piste’ they just can’t deal with it.

At the end of the day it all comes down to the relationship between the provider and the customer – all business is based on relationships and trust – the banks have learnt this again the hard way over the last few years, and we shouldn’t forget this.

The man from EE did suggest to me that they might be having a ‘few issues’ with T-Mobile since they took them over – I would say that is an understatement – but at least there was an acceptance of an issue – perhaps there is hope for our telecoms providers after all?

Call centres – time for another option?

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I have recently had cause to speak to a call centre in the Philippines – it services T-Mobile and has the usual very polite and friendly staff that one gets in all call centres. So what is my problem? If the service is friendly and helpful why complain?

20121228-120840.jpgWell friendly is all very well, and in my experience the staff are always very apologetic (I only appear to call if there is a problem) – my issue is that they all work from scripts that don’t usually answer problems – they just deflect them! I find that the only way you can get a resolution to a problem is to ask to speak to a manager, and in effect escalate the issue – which is always a major issue for the staff member you are talking to!

I realise that call centres can work for very basic issues – like “how do I do this on my phone” or “why won’t this work on my phone” – but as soon as you throw them a “curved ball” the system can’t cope and they just end up being even more apologetic and friendly!

So why can’t the call centres have an option when you ring up (and they have lots of options!) that is for people like me who only call when they are forced into a corner? The option could be something like this;

“Press 4 if you are at the end of your tether a want to kill someone”

It could work and actually save time at the call centres as well!

Well done Easy Jet

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I am a defender of the budget airlines whenever people ‘go off on one’ when I am around. My take on it is that you get what you pay for, and I may be lucky, but I have never had an issue with either EasyJet or Ryanair.

20121128-193259.jpgYes their inflight catering is expensive, and yes if you don’t do your online check in it costs you ‘a lot’ at the airport – but they are the rules that you agree to play by when you book with them!

I was however slightly concerned that I might have to be holding for hours to get through to their call centre to check on something today – I have never had to call them, but guessed that the call centre would be ‘one man and his dog’ in a shed somewhere. How wrong I was, a call at 7.30 pm, just half an hour before the call centre closed was answered in a matter of a few minutes and the matter sorted out in a similar timescale!

So very well done EasyJet, yet again you haven’t failed me!

Customer service – again!

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A favorite hobby-horse again I am afraid!

My gas provider (I am strangely unusual and still use British Gas for gas) informed me last year that my meter needed changing – fair enough, they pay for it, and it must wear out over time. An appointment was made, and as usual no exact time could be given, but they did offer me either morning or afternoon. So not all bad – I went for the morning (I can work at home while I wait).

A rare sight on my street......

All nice and straight forwards then! Well no – on the day I got a call about 3 hours into my 4 hour slot to say the engineer had discovered a problem at his previous job and would not therefore be able to attend my house – I gave him the benefit of the doubt and arranged another morning slot for a few weeks late.

Come the next date – you guessed – engineer can’t attend due to a problem at his last job! Appointment re-arranged – again. I am also beginning to wonder about this engineer!

Scroll forward to this week (April 2011, getting on for 4 months from the first appointment). I am sat at home waiting for an 8 – 12 appointment. I have not received a call to say it is not on so hopefully we are on?

Err…. no. Two hours into my wait (i am working so it’s not a lost morning luckily) I get the call – in truth I get a dropped call which I call back to see who it was, not sure when I would have got the call otherwise?

This time the engineer is off ill. That’s a change then, but hang on, their engineers must be related to superman, that can be the only reason why it took them over 2 hours to call me to say he was off ill – his work load must be enormous! Alternatively they could just be a completely useless organisation who couldn’t organise a …….. well you know where I am going.

So we are booked in again  – for a few weeks time, this time apparently I get a two-hour slot – whoopee!!! – at least I will only have to wait one hour for the phone call on that day?

Telephone banking!

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I have been absent from my blog for a few days – to be honest I have been rather busy and something had to give! I am away on holiday soon so have been clearing my desk as much as I can.

As a part of this I always contact my bank and credit card providers to let them know I am out of the UK – the idea being to ensure my card doesn’t get blocked when I use it abroad! Doing this on the Barclaycard site is easy – no need to talk to anyone and it updates the system with a few button presses on the phone – top marks to Barclaycard.

But my bank are a different story!

Firstly ringing phone banking is a long-winded thing – to be fair I don’t use it for this reason (I do most of my banking on-line), and I am aware that there needs to be security, but it takes so many key pad presses to reach the section you want – in my case to actually speak to someone!

That’s when the fun begins though! If you recall I was only ringing to confirm that I was going out of the country for a few days. As I see it I am helping the bank by keeping them up to date. However having shared this information with my ‘phone buddy’ he tells me that is fine – but it won’t necessarily stop your card being blocked – just phone us if it does get blocked!

Err, that’s what I am doing?

That was just the start though – ‘phone buddy’ then decided I needed to have a quick appraisal of my accounts and the benefits I could get if I wanted them (at extra cost obviously).

Firstly – ” had I sorted my travel insurance?” Err, thanks for asking but yes!

“Well you could have that if you wanted on an ‘xyz’ account for free.”

Actually for a monthly fee and no thanks!

Secondly – “you can get more interest on your savings you know?”

Well thanks but not today!

Thirdly – ” I note you don’t have a credit card with us”

At this stage I was tempted to suggest that was because my current card provider didn’t ask stupid questions (but I was good and stayed polite) – no thanks happy with Barclaycard!

There were other attempted sells as well – if I had wanted to have a financial review I would have asked for it – my expected 30 second call took around 10 minutes. And this from the bank that got into big trouble for its poor selling of insurance a few years ago (perhaps they need the money to feed the horse?)!

Come on guys! All I want is to use the phone to update the bank, obviously you aren’t very interested in me unless you can sell to me – back to internet banking and the little sub branch on Derby Road in Nottingham that knows my name)!

Customer care…AGAIN!

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Without doubt I am getting old and grumpy – the onset has been slow but sure. If I am honest I make no apology for it – we are far too accommodating in this country over poor service. We really should learn to complain about bad service and complement good.

How about spending the money on customers rather than adverts........

My latest ‘spat’ relates to Barclaycard, I have like most people had a Visa card for years. I have been lucky in that I have not had to contact them much in that time, I manage it on-line and always clear it at the end of the month – as you should!

However yesterday I discovered that my card appeared to have been cloned, I had hired a car in Rome earlier in the week and unfortunately it was not by my hand! So, obviously feeling somewhat worried as to what else might have been purchased with the card I phoned Visa. The initial response was good, the call was answer fairly swiftly and my concerns were noted and I was asked to hold while I was put through to the fraud department.

It was at this point that it all went down hill!

Now I would expect fraud to be something that was considered to be important to Visa, but I had to hold for 20 minutes before my call was answered! I also received no apology for the delay, the report was dealt with efficiently, but come on – twenty minutes!

All I can assume is that fraud is very prevalent at Barclaycard – perhaps it’s time to find a better credit card?

Nightmare trying to buy 3 Oyster cards!

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Next week is the half term holiday, so we have decided to spend a couple of days in London – plenty to do and a bit of a break without breaking the bank! My wife hit upon a great idea to make the visit run a bit smoother – getting Oyster cards for London Transport.

The cards can be topped up on a ‘pay as you go’ basis and the credit lasts for a couple of years, so it is a no brainer. They can be ordered on-line and delivered by post, so we would have them ready for our visit if we ordered them a week or so before. So on Sunday evening we went onto the Transport for London (TFL) website to order 3 cards (Sam being 13 is still only £2 a day so we do not need one for him yet).

So this all seemed pretty straight forward, two cards were ordered in short order and then we started setting up the third – only for the purchase to fail at the payment stage. It told us the address didn’t match the credit card details (it did) or that the name was wrong (it wasn’t), so please contact your card provider.

So off I went on the phone to India (Visa call centre), a very unhelpful gentleman who was intent on talking over me told me it was not their problem and they had 15 approved payments! Having tried to get him to answer my actual question -” is there any reason why Visa are not approving my purchase” – I eventually asked to speak to a supervisor. He apparently was busy but would call me back within 3 hours – that was 3 days ago so I don’t hold out much hope! That is customer service at its best – NOT!

Anyway next stop was the TFL help desk, who were very helpful (well done TFL) but apparently their system is very sensitive to fraud and more than two purchases is classed as fraud! I was told to wait 24 hours and try again. OK, but why doesn’t the website have this little nugget of information on it? It would have saved me a call to the gentleman in India and a lot of stress!

24 hours later same problem, so I rang and tried to buy a card in ‘person’. I gave the very helpful lady at the end of the phone my account details (including security passwords) so that a new card could be added to my account. Surely this should be easy, I couldn’t be classed as fraudulent here could I?

Errrr… yes I can – purchase failed again! Please try again in 24 to 48 hours – or buy one on the platform when you arrive (exactly what we were trying to avoid!)

Now I am all for secure systems, I have had my card cloned once and don’t want to go there again. But surely stopping credit card fraud is down to the card provider and not the retailer? I will now wait 48 hours, but if it fails again will have no option other than to join the queue I was looking to avoid in the first place!

UPDATE 22.10.10

Well today I tried again having left it more than 48 hours since my last attempt to buy the card. Unfortunately it failed again, I have now given up and will order daily passes for my daughter to use while we are there. I have no intention of joining the queues for cards in London!