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19 May 2010 @ 04:33 pm
Bureaucracy and Call Centres  
October: B. decides to switch broadband supplier from Tiscali to Talk Talk.

November - March: Endless confusion caused, in part, by Talk Talk's takeover of Tiscali and the fact that I have the Tiscali account while B. will have the Talk Talk account.

Late March: Receive letter informing me that my account will be closed 23rd April

*Much rejoicing*

Last Week: Receive Invoice for May.


* Phone cancellation enquiry number on letter: informed I needed to be but through to business accounts.
* Business accounts: Confirm account has been cancelled. Did I want to cancel billing as well? yes, and I'm going to stop the Direct Debit, just so they know. Business say they'll put me through to Billing and I should request a refund for the last week in April which I was billed for even though the service was cancelled.
* Billing: Someone answers the phone, there is an odd click, followed by silence and then I'm in a queue
* Talk Talk Customer Service: Can not possibly put me through to billing, I have phoned the wrong number.
* Phone supplied number (presumably Business again): Immediately put through to Billing.
* Billing: Explain situation, put on hold, explain situation again, put on hold, explain that no, I don't want a refund for May, I'm informing them I won't be paying the May invoice, I would like a refund for the end of April, put on hold, yes they can do that, put on hold while amount is calculated, no I don't want anything else.

Hang up not at all convinced that they've actually grasped the important fact that I intend to cancel direct debit. That said I was impressed by the two people I spoke to in Business accounts who both grasped the situation quickly, didn't ask any stupid questions, and provided pertinent information and advice. The woman in Billing though was as thick as two short planks.

* Phone Bank: Talk Talk have already cancelled Direct Debit. Woman in bank somewhat perplexed but I assured her that I had just spoken to Talk Talk and I had no trouble believing that they had cancelled the direct debit but were nevertheless still sending me invoices stating their intention to collect the money.

On checking my bank statement I realise they actually only deducted the amount I owed in April, despite invoicing me for the whole month. I'm intrigued to see if they work this out before they refund me, but I am sufficiently deterred by the Byzantine Talk Talk phone system and the IQ level on display in Billing to be unprepared to phone them again to try and straighten this out.

-- I realise this is a common story, but I remain suprised by the variable competence of the people at the end of these phone lines (e.g. the woman at the Bank and the people in Business at Talk Talk handled moderately complex requests with ease (the Bank conversation was complicated by not wanting to cancel B's Talk Talk Direct Debit and she sorted out the two DDs and the status of each very quickly)). I also remain surprised that you can normally tell within a couple of sentences whether you've got a good'un or a bad'un at the end of the phone.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/6494.html.
Susanlil_shepherd on May 19th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Hmm. It is a usual story, but it is still bloody annoying.

I phoned AOL today to tell them to stop sending e-mails threatening me with having my account cancelled because it has been cancelled for some time.

They were extremely good on the phone as they were when they cancelled my account without cancelling my free e-mail addies which I have had for many years. Now they have sent me an e-mail asking me to rate their service...

Not, my children, until I am sure that I am not going to get any more e-mails demanding details of my credit card. (NB: Yes, I am sure it is actually AOL - the link goes to the proper site.)
louisedennislouisedennis on May 19th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
You'd think AOL would know better, though I'm not sure why.

And, yes, the whole business took an hour of my time, and my time is valuable - that's what irritates me so much about these situations.
fredbassettfredbassett on May 19th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
louisedennislouisedennis on May 19th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Indeed!! The poor bewildered woman at the bank was obviously quite worried there had been a horrible mistake somewhere and there was a DD she was over-looking, not that Talk Talk were simply incompetent.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on May 19th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)

I'll spare you my rant on BT which culminated in some idiot in a call centre in India continually addressing me by my dead mother's name when we were trying to find out how to close her account . . . When I complained, I then caught one of the customer service people in a lie. My subsequent complaint has been ignored, oddly enough! Fuckwits.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 19th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
This was nothing compared to the situation I had with the Gas Supplier when we first moved in, which involved a court summons and a visit from the bailiffs (luckily we were out and they simply put a note through the door notifying of their intention to force entry next time - because I don't know what I'd have done if actually confronted by them) before I finally managed to convince them that we were not the people they were looking for.

Turns out that the `relocation company' who owned the house before we did hadn't bother to inform the Gas people that they owned the house until the day we bought it, at which point we also informed them and the whole system went into some sort of melt down faced with the prospect of two new customers on the same day - although it took six months worth of phone calls to establish this fact and rectify it, and that really boiled down to finally managing to talk to someone in a call centre with a bit of initiative and curiousity.

We lodged a complaint but never got a response, but I mostly lodged the complaint as a formality in preparation for going to the Ombudsman (luckily not required).
lukadreaminglukadreaming on May 19th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)

*Head connects very hard with desk any number of times*

Those are the ones to take to The Guardian consumer champion and sit back and wait for the gas people to claim it wasn't really their fault and they're much misunderstood, and of course they'll resolve the problem like yesterday . . .
telperion_15telperion_15 on May 19th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
Oh good grief!

In my last flat I kept getting British Gas bills addressed to whow were obviously the previous residents, which I kept 'returning to sender'. They kept sending them, I kept returning them, and then eventually a man (obviously a debt collector) turned up at the front door. Having said that, when I told him that the people in question didn't live there any more (and this was through the intercom, so he didn't see my face), he took my word for it, went away, and the bills stopped.

AOL's helpline is, however crap. The last time I phoned it I had to stop myself exclaiming "oh, you're British!" at the nice young man with the Scottish accent who answered. Normally you get someone who's obviously in India, obviously doesn't have English as their first language, and who clearly wouldn't have a clue what to do if you had to go 'off script'... *sigh*

And don't even get me started on EDF...
louisedennislouisedennis on May 19th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
We did manage to stop the bailiffs pretty easily with a phone call, although given I'd also phoned when we got the court summons and said "err... not us!" I remained quite anxious about bailiffs for some time. But at that point we started getting bills for the relocation company (the summons had been for `the occupier' or something generic) and so naturally I worried that at some point non-payment of those would become an issue though every time I phoned British Gas they insisted I shouldn't pay these bills despite being the owner and occupier of the property. It was six months before we were actually recognised as the people liable for the bills and got sent bills that were intended for us and not someone else.