Friday, 16 May 2014

Your Call is Important to Us


As someone responsible for delivering a service which matters a great deal to those who use it (it's not just me, of course, there are 200 or more of us at it) I understand the stress and difficulty of dealing with frustrated and angry customers.  Particularly for those on the front line, who have to cope with the sometimes outrageous behaviour of people who should know better.  For example, senior academic staff who are prepared to reduce a 19-year-old assistant to tears over a late-returned book (variations on the "Do you know who I am, young lady?"scenario).  This is not to mention the knife-wielding maniac who terrorised one of our reception staff, or the scary creeps and stalkers, or even the routine but breathtaking rudeness and arrogance of many students.

So, I try not to lose it when dealing with the front-line staff of other service providers (even cold callers, though I do tend to have a little fun with them if I'm in the mood).  They're just doing a difficult job, for very little pay, and no "job satisfaction" at all.  Today, however, I came very close to making an exception.

When I wrote the previous post, I fully expected things to sort themselves out.  I believed the story I was being peddled, about there being some mysterious technical problem with Orange customers upgrading to EE, which would all be sorted out mañana.  It is, after all, the same freaking company now, isn't it?  I could put up with the second upgrade handset they'd sent me (did I mention that the first one came with the wrong-sized SIM?), despite the fact it didn't really match what I'd asked for as a replacement, especially the bit about being able to use it as a telephone.  Then, yesterday, I received a letter from EE giving me my PAC code, because it seemed I had decided to move to another supplier.  What? Since when?

The fuse was lit.

I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow account, and cut to the chase. It seems that in one of the mañana conversations I'd had with tech-desk guys in between musical interludes, my interlocutor had taken it upon himself to cancel my upgrade (hey, because I wasn't getting any service!) and to return me to my original contract with Orange.  He didn't tell me this, and we didn't discuss this, though his "notes" say that we did.  My word against his, I suppose.  Yet, oddly, all of the other cheery Hibernians I dealt with subsequently kept up the reassuring fable that I was simply an Orange customer having difficulty "upgrading" to EE, not an ex-customer.  My, how they must have laughed!

And, somehow, just to compound the confusion, this had all somehow mutated in the paperwork into me asking not just to cancel the new contract (which I hadn't) but also to move to another supplier -- hence the PAC code.  Did I mention that Orange is the same company as EE?

Very, very carefully, I had to pinch out the burning fuse, which was getting perilously close to the explosives.

I get the strong impression they don't really want my custom.  Which is fine.  However, I will be keeping a very close eye on my direct debits over the next couple of months, just in case they want to have their cake and eat it a couple of times over.   So, does anyone recommend a UK mobile network?  Anyone use Three or O2?  Or are they incompetent, double-dealing brigands, too?


Martyn Cornell said...

It's like banks, mate. They're all arseholes who don't care. The problem is that it's an oligopoly, and no one particularly gains a competitive advantage by being decent to their customers, so there is no cultural imperative to be nice. In the hospitality industry, hoever, which I now spend much of my time studying, there is such a wide choice of provider (ie there are 50+ restaurants etc in every town, plus the opportunity to stay at home with an M&S ready-meal if you want) that there IS a competitive advantage in being nice to the customer, and in the best companies there is considerable emphasis on providing the best customer experience possible.

Mike C. said...

Ah, banks... Don't get me started on banks... Not yet, anyway.


Struan said...

I've been coming back to this photo since you posted. It niggles.

I can't decide if it's years of using cameras with movements, or a general hankering for precise symmetry, or plain old OCD, but the slight departures from symmetry become - like a dripping tap in another room - more and more attention grabbing as time goes on.

Not a criticism, more an observation. I like to think about how images 'work', and this one works well to shake up my preconceptions about how this kind of material - which I love - is 'best' presented.

Mike C. said...


Yes, I hadn't given it much attention myself, but now you point it out it does throw out certain challenges to the tidy-minded, doesn't it? It offers an initial broad symmetry, which it then proceeds to undermine at every turn. Curious.