We reject your reality and substitute our own
Telecommunications providers are odd creatures. The vast majority are hell bent on placing customers on 24 month contracts, selling additional services of questionable value and treating existing customers with indifference whilst typically offering significant incentives to new customers to shift loyalties.
Even though mobile technology is constantly evolving and mobile networks are constantly being upgraded and expanded the back end systems of some providers seem to have been manufactured in 1976 and regularly need a bloke named Keith to hit them with a shifting spanner to keep things running.
After cancelling a credit card I provided this particular telco with my new credit card details via their online portal. To my surprise, I received a delightful SMS indicating that immediate payment was required to maintain my service as the company was unable to “Direct Debit” my credit card.
Of course Direct Debit isn’t possible against credit cards, but what the provider was actually trying to tell me was that the payment had not been approved. I made a manual payment in response to this delightful revelation and made a note to chase up the card issuer to ensure there wasn’t a problem on their end.
Shortly thereafter, the cause became clear. The provider in question decided that supplying my new card details were not in line with whatever revenue or operational policy was in place at that time, with repeated attempts resulting in the old (now cancelled) card details being retained and no error being provided. To add to the ridiculousness of this, I had been charged a surcharge for making a manual payment. Up with this I did not put!
Online chat makes things happen
I’ve generally found that attempting the conventional Contact Us form or call centre paths are simply futile with this particular telco as a consumer. A little known fact is the increased level of access provided to staff who take care of web chat and social media channels and one that often provides a quicker, simpler and more optimal outcome for those of us who won’t put up with things going wrong and shoulders being shrugged in response.
After explaining the situation to “Dave”, the situation was resolved in his mind as I would not need to make future manual payments and would not receive SMS messages alleging that I was incapable of operating a credit card correctly.
Acknowledge. Resolve. Right.
When a supplier stuffs something up, I have the following simple expectations:
- Take ownership and acknowledge the issue
- Resolve the issue
- Make things right with the customer
Excellent companies do all of these in one seamless motion and should be praised for it. In this particular case, none of these were done – the surcharge being an issue was not acknowledged, the time involved in sorting this issue out was not appreciated and no refund was offered for the surcharge.
At this point, I had to tell “Dave” that he needed to make things right and the company needed to pay me for my time. Deflection resulted, with the telco’s payment service provider being blamed, “Dave” claiming he could not give me what I was asking for and being told that I would need to invest more of my time to get any further action on the issue.
Stating that my next communication would result in fees being levied against the company due to the complaints process, “Dave” very quickly changed his tune. A request for a $40 credit and a refund of the surcharge was very quickly granted, however “Dave” managed to ruin his attempt at getting positive feedback for his resolution with a single statement. Specifically that future failures to pay will result in a late fee being applied and no waiving of said fees or surcharges.
If we bugger it up again, we’ll charge you for our ineptitude
This may be a canned response to issues involving waiving of fees, but it exemplifies the issue with far too many companies. The only reasonable response to this is (of course), “If the company does fail to follow my payment instructions again, complaints will be filed and the TIO will charge the company handsomely.”
For some strange reason, “Dave” disconnected at this point.
All in all, I’ll count that as a win.