Saturday, January 06, 2007

To be or not, BT ...

Customer service is an important part of any company. So I've decided to write about my latest fiasco with BT (British Telecom). I won't bore you with the minor arguments with the company but the last two just get me annoyed.

About four months ago we moved from BT broadband to Tiscali. We kept the BT land-line though.

We then were sent a bill for continued use of BT broadband.

We phoned BT, asked them why they had sent a bill for a cancelled service; they agreed we owed them nothing.

A few months later we get sent a reminder for the bill. Same old story, same old phone call, same old agreement. This time they promised us they had settled the matter and we wouldn't be getting any more phone calls about us not owing them anything.

A little later, we get phoned by the BT Collection Agency for collection of outstanding money. So same old story, same old phone call, same old agreement, same old promises that they had settled this and we wouldn't be getting any more phones calls asking us to pay fictitious debts.

If past performance is any guide, we are now expecting the bailiffs to turn up. Talk about utterly useless, it's amazing the phones actually work.

The other matter was that someone drove into our telegraph pole, breaking it in half. We called BT from another phone and told them the telegraph pole was broken, they seemed to have difficulty in believing this and kept telling us our phone would be working tomorrow.

Eventually after four days an engineer turned up. So we phoned BT to ask them what was happening and they said "You've got a broken telegraph pole" ... doh.

They have promised to reduce our bill for the days our telegraph pole was split in two across the road and no telephone service was available. I'm not holding my breath; that could be fatal.

The secret is to bang the rocks together guys.

There is one observation that I would like to make.

The phones are obviously maintained by local engineers and I never seem to have problems here.

On the other hand all the customer support stuff seems to be done in some offshore centre (given the difficulties I experience in understanding them, and in being understood).

It might be cheaper financially but in terms of customer experience I imagine it is costing them dear.

In Buzby's words "Make someone happy" - well from my experience BT is more turkey than Buzby.


Anonymous said...

I had the first problem here for about the last 15 months before leaving. After several complaints BT promised to refund various spurious charges. But then they never did, and kept chasing me for them. Every time I talked to someone on the phone, they promised me it would be sorted, but never was, so I gave up and started putting everything in writing.

I have over 20 letters I sent over a 12 month period. None of them were answered, other than a couple of bland "please call us so we can discuss your complaint". It didn't matter how many times I told them that I didn't to talk to them anymore. The last 4 or 5 letters were to various debt collection firms and solicitors who had gotten involved. After sending them the history, I never heard anything more from any of them; the matter being passed to a new company instead.

During the whole process my line was disconnected several times. Each time I had no option but to phone, and escalate as far as I could. When the manager I eventually got to talk to saw the number of unanswered complaints on my account they agreed to reconnect me each time.

I even followed all the proper procedures for escalating complaints etc, none of which ever got a proper reply either. I had just reached the point where the matter was going to go to Ofcom when I moved to Estonia. I might follow it up at some point just to see if anything happens.

I've had a lot of bad customer service experiences in my time, but this was certainly one of the worst.

swardley said...

Thanks for the warning Tony, we are already keeping a paper trail on this as we are expecting them to "forget" again and still believe we owe them money.

We have been told that they have "sorted" this out now, and we won't be get any more calls or demands.

We have explained to them that we consider this harrassment. Your story though is the sort of shocking saga I would wish to avoid.

It is such a shame as I find the service itself reliable just the customer service aspect atrocious.

Hoping you are doing well in Estonia.