It seems to me the service industries are providing less and less in the way of ‘service’, at least as far as customer interaction is concerned. My beef this time is with the national carrier ‘Telstra’ who, since they are trying on the one hand to become commercially viable whilst at the same time pander to political interference are finding times tough.
The results of their drive to modernise and reduce costs affect us users in all sorts of little, yet aggravating ways. For example, paying bills.
So… the story.
Two Christmas’s ago Father Xmas brought the eldest daughter a new mobile phone. Anyone following this blog might recall the saga of the Samsung phone that failed a week out of warranty and wasn’t repaired… well this is the same account.
When the phone was bought a request was made that the account be linked to the home phone (as are all the other numbers) so that we get one bill… it’s a large bill, but it means none are forgotten. Of course whilst the bills are in my name, it isn’t me that pays them, the wife handles the finances. So, when *separate* bills arrived for the phones she just paid them. As it happens she continued to pay them for a year, until she forgot one.
Eventually we started receiving ‘overdue’ notices, these turned into ‘suspension of account’ notices. Naturally we felt this was a little odd so I called the company, gave them the details, talked to two different departments and both assured me there was no money owing so when the next one arrived I ignored it. Then the daughters phone was cut off.
To begin with I got very annoyed, especially when we looked at the bills and saw nothing owing. I was all set to call the company and give them a blast, but luckily something suddenly clicked and I asked the wife if she had been paying two sets of bills for the phones… and of course she had. 🙂
I then realised that when I’d called to make enquiries I’d been discussing the main account assuming the daughters phone was linked. Of course that account *is* clear so once we’d determined what had happened I rang to pay the bill and have the phone unblocked.
I rang at 11:00 a.m. an after 10 minutes of ‘We are Australia’ blasting in my ear I got through to an artificial voice who took my details and, after a lot of redundant data entries put, me through to a ‘consultant’. The ‘consultant’ was able to tell me she’d organise the accounts to be linked so we *did* only have one bill, but she wasn’t able to take payments and transferred me to someone else.
Someone else *was* able to take the payment, but was unable to reconnect the phone so transferred me to another artificial voice where I was to ‘report a payment’. After re-entering all the data that was now doubly redundant, I was given another ‘receipt number’ and told the phone would be reconnected over the next 5 weeks and would I like help with anything else. I requested to speak to a human being.
This led to me being connected to a guy who mumbled worse than *I* do… which made communications a bit strained. Nevertheless he did eventually work out what was wrong… and transferred me to yet another department after assuring me me he would also make sure the bills would be linked together to avoid the same thing happening again.
The lady at the ‘other department’ (Credit Management probably) thought it was all quite amusing, albeit in a stressful sort of way and promised to help sort it all out for me. After a few minutes the payment was verified, the bills linked, and the phone was unblocked.
I’m sure this is some marketing guy’s idea of streamlining the flow of incoming requests for assistance, but why is it so hard for customers who just want to pay a bill?Whatever happened to the ‘old days’ when you could ring up, tell a human being what you wanted… and have *them* deal with it there and then? Surely this is more efficient for both them *and* us?
This skill reduction and breaking down of people’s jobs within a company to the simplest possible level is yet another thing about ‘modern life’ that drives me crazy. Grrr…. 🙂