Friday, May 09, 2008

"Customer service" yes they're scary words but let's not be alarmed

Let's take a hypothetical* situation, let's say that a certain gent of advancing years has an alarm system installed in his house, a state of the art system. In the event of a burglary, a power cut or a particularly podgy spider passing in front of a sensor the alarm uses Vodafone (no wires for the bad guys to cut) to alert the ever vigilant boys and girls of a monitoring company, let's call them Costudian* who contact either the local Old Bill, the keyholder or "Spider-watch with Bill Oddie" as appropriate. Let's suppose that lucky Mr Stuffy only pays about £500 of your English pounds, every year, for this service.

Let's suppose something goes awry with the Vodafone bit, well, the clever old system uses the house phone to contact our eagle-eyed chums at Custardian* to let them know there is a fault.

Enough background, on with the tale ...

I got a phone bill, from BT, hundreds of calls to a premium rate 0870 number, well, there are three women resident in the Barn, two of them teenagers, but no, they all had alibis.

I rang the number from the phone bill, it squealed at me, being trained in the art of detection, I observed that it was very close (numerically) to the Customer service number of Casturdian*, the world renowned alarm monitoring company, so I rang them.

Stuffy says (after 15 minutes of proving his identity) "Tell me fair lady, is this one of your numbers ?"
The fair lady "Yes it it"
"Why would my alarm system be ringing this number ?"
The fair lady "Oh it wouldn't Sir, that number is nothing to do with your system, that number is not even in use"
"So it isn't monitored by your excellent selves?"
The fair lady "No Sir, there's no need"
"except that it's racking up revenue for you and your chums at BT?
The fair lady "Oh, I wouldn't think so Sir"
"Would you like 57 pages of phone bill evidence that you're wrong?
The fair lady "If there's a fault I'm afraid we can only talk to your installer"

OK ...

I told my installer the story, he tested the Vodafone link, dead as a digital dodo. the alarm system was still trying to tell the alarm company about this, every 2-5 minutes, at 20p per shot, and failing, a still, small, electronic voice crying in the wilderness................. at my expense.
We cut the wire
We mentioned this to Crosstoadyan*.

Week 2 they asked for the alarm system, we sent it to them.
Week 3 Nothing
Week 4 They wanted the phone bill, we sent it to them
Week 5 Nothing
Week 6 They destroyed the alarm system while testing it.
Week 7 They lost the phone bill, we sent it again
Week 8 the technicians sent a report to Customer Services
Week 9 Customer Services couldn't find the report, and they lost the phone bill, again ...
Week 10 Mr Fielder* (Customer Service Director) made the mistake of answering my phone call

Mr F "Ah, it appears that there may have been a fault, we're trying to resolve it now"
Mr S "By resolve you'd better mean 'repay me all the money you've accrued through your error and reimburse me for the 5 weeks when I had no alarm cover and was just wasting time and energy every time I or my family bothered setting the alarm".
Mr F "Um, I'll call you back"

Week 11 Nothing
Week 12 Nothing but "Mr Fielder is off-site today"
Mr S " Well you can inform Mr Fielder* that he's got a very unhappy Customer who needs to see some sign of some 'expletive deleted (might be flipping, might not)' Service.

Week 13, A snotty email from Mr Fielder (still not his real name) explaining that he couldn't possibly take my call as he was engaged in a workshop with his team about improving 'Customer Service'"
He didn't really appreciate me explaining, (at some length) the concept of irony.

Week 14 Assured that compensatory payment had been authorised
Week 15 Nothing
Week 16 Assured by Mr Fielder that "it's with the people who authorise these amounts of money"
Mr S " Let me get this clear, you're a Customer Services Director, who can't authorise £200 ?"

Apparently it's not just irony, Mr Fielder* doesn't appreciate sarcasm either

Week 17 Nothing
Week 18 "The payment went out today, it should be with you tomorrow"
Tomorrow - it wasn't
Day after tomorrow - it wasn't - again
Day after the day after tomorrow, "Hello, this is Mr Fielders voicemail, I'm taking a well deserved holiday for the next couple of weeks but if it's something urgent please feel free to talk with one of my colleagues, or, for all the good that will do you, just stand alone in a darkened room and scream and bang your head on the wall until I get back ...
and don't forget,
your call is important to us"

Week 20 "Hello Mr Fielder*, I hope that your holiday has left you feeling refreshed, invigorated and back in the business of bringing unalloyed joy to your lucky clients."

"Ah, Mr Stuffy, it appears that your cheque was sent to me by mistake, I posted it myself by recorded delivery yesterday, I sincerely apologise for any delay."

It appears I was wrong ... he does appreciate sarcasm


*not really very hypothetical at all
*not really CustodianMonitoringServices
* not a pseudonym for Mr Chris Fidler

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