Friday, September 15, 2006


More Customer Service Hell

Do customer service reps find it absolutely necessary to make transactions as difficult as possible for their clients? These past few days have been a test of my patience beyond belief.

First up....Bell Canada

Since our recent move and the requirement to obtain a new phone number due to location, I have received our final (hopefully) bill from the old number. It was only for about thirty some odd dollars, so I thought I'd go to my on-line baking site and take care of it. I figured that since I have a new phone number that my account number, made up mostly of the phone number and a few extra digits, will be changing to reflect that change. I looked at my payee profiles information for Bell Canada and saw that the information there was the same as the number on the bill they sent with the exception of the last five or six digits. Hmmm....I wondered if I needed to change my profile information to reflect that new series of numbers of should I continue to just click and pay like I always had. If I did that, would the money go to the right account? I decided to give them a call.

"Bell Canada, how can I help you?"
"I just have a question. I'm trying to pay my final bill, but noticed the last few digits on the bill are different from my on-line payee information. Do I need to change those last few numbers to reflect what's on the bill or shall I just pay as I always have to the number that is currently there?"
"Can I have your phone number?"
"'s ***-***-****"
"And your name?"
"And your address?"
"*** such and such."
"And your password?"
"Yes, you set up a password when you opened the account."
"You mean eleven years ago?"
"When you opened the account you selected a password."
"I couldn't begin to guess. I've never had to use it."
"I'm sorry, I can't give any information out without it."
"What does it begin with?"
"I can't tell you that."
"All I want to do is pay my bill, but I want to make sure it goes to the right account because apparently I have two different client numbers."
"I understand, but I'm not permitted to give any information without the password."
"Oh my God! I don't want any information on the account, I just want to know if I can make a payment to the same account as before."
"Yes, you can."
"Thank you. Was it really that difficult to tell me that in the first place?"
Click. I hung up on her. Piss me off!

Up next...The bank

While looking at my on-line balance, I noticed that although I had over one thousand dollars in my chequing account, I only had about eight dollars available. WTF? I deposited my pay four days ago. I called the bank to see what's up.

"Service Charges R Us, how can I help you?"
"Hi, I was just trying to pay some bills and I see there is only about eight dollars available. Why would that be?"
"There is a five day cheque clearing period for your deposits."
"Oh? And when did that begin? I never had a hold on deposits before."
"It shows here that on July 23 there was some unusual activity on your account and the account was frozen temporarily. It looks like there is still a hold on your deposits though."

I looked in my chequebook and remembered that day well.

"Actually, that 'unusual activity' was me using my bank card three times one day. I bought groceries, I deposited a cheque, and transferred funds between accounts. When I got home there was a message from the bank checking to see if it was me who used the card. I assured them it was, although I wouldn't have a problem with someone depositing money into my account."
"Well, you still have a hold on your deposits."
"And how do I go back to the way it was because I have some bills to pay today?"
"I can take care of that for you. What you should do is sign up for our overdraft protection. That way if you go beyond your balance, you will be covered."
"And what would that cost me?"
"There is no charge as long as you keep a positive balance. If you go below a zero balance there is a five dollar fee."
"The only way I would have to use overdraft is if my cheques had a hold on them. I think I'll be fine once the hold is taken off."

A few clicks and a few seconds later...

"OK, we've removed your holds on all future deposits."
"Thank you. So I can pay my bills now?"
"Unfortunately, I don't have the authority to reverse the hold on the existing cheque. You need to call your home branch for that."

So I decided to call my home branch in Hooterville. The one that I've been a client of since I was five years old. The one I haven't stepped foot into in about 14 years.

"Service Charges R Us, how can I help you?"
"Hi, this is FMD, I was just speaking to a CSR at head office about removing holds on deposits and she was able to do it for future deposits, but I was told to call my home branch to have the current cheque cleared so I can pay some bills."
"You'll need to come into the branch to do that. We're not able to do that over the phone."
"Well, we have a problem. I'm about an hour's drive away and I have to be at work in about 15 minutes. But I really need to pay these bills that are due today."
"See, we can't do that because I have no way to verify who you are."
"OK, let me get this straight. I used my card three times one day, one of which was for a deposit, and my account was frozen and had a hold put on all future deposits. Now I need to make a two hour round trip to correct this? The bank has inconvenienced me, and I'm required to jump through hoops? I would think that using my bank card three times in one day is NOT unusual activity, and if anything, I would think that someone from the bank should come to ME to correct this and apologize for the inconvenience."
"Can you hold for a few seconds?"

A few minutes pass and the teller returns...

"OK, there is someone working here who thinks she knows you. We might be able to straighten this out now. Can you tell me who the held cheque was from?"
"Yep, it's my paycheque from my own business, 'FMD's Place'."
"Can you hold again?"

Another minute passes...

"OK, Dave, do you know 'Betty Jones'?"
"I certainly do. I went to high school with her and her sister. Her husband's brother and I were roommates. I know the whole family."
"Alright. And your father's name?"
"OK, no problem. We'll have the hold removed right away. I'm sorry, we just need to take precautions because you never know who you're dealing with when it's just over the phone."
"Fair enough, though I'm not sure how removing a hold on deposits to my account can compromise my security."
"True, it's just company policy."
"Not a problem. I appreciate your help. Say hello to 'Betty' for me.

Oy! After that I was ready to race into the shower and get ready for work. As I'm stepping out of the shower, the phone rings. I run and answer it. It was the storage company that we kept some of our extra furniture in for the past few months.
"We just noticed that your lock was off and the locker was empty. Are you finished with it now?"
"Yes, we are. We just emptied it out last night and I was going to call this morning to let you know."
"Not a problem. I just wanted to confirm that you were done with it, and you will have a refund coming back to you. Can I get your new address where we can send it?"
"Absolutely. It's *** ***** ***** ****.
"OK, thank you. Have a great day!"
"Thanks. You too."

Wow. Night and day. That storage company has its shit together. That is how customer service should be done. Those huge corporations could take a few pointers from them. I have to remember that. I have to continue to focus on exceptional customer service. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

Yes, it is. There was bead shop on Fillmore in San Francisco that was run by the biggest B-word ever. I went there once and never again. I talked to other people who had the same problem and also refused to shop there ever again. I always wondered how she lasted there considering nobody I knew ever shopped there more than once.
I know it's kind of a fine line. We're somewhat opinionated at our shop and we don't have a problem telling someone what will look best with their artwork. Sometimes people will want something totally odd (you know, matching the drapes...that kind of crap), and we just say, "well, personally, I think it looks terrible on the piece, but I don't have to live with it." There are times we've said "It certainly wouldn't be hanging in MY house looking like that." But for the most part, people appreciate our honesty...I think.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?