Outsourcing and Call Center Blog

18 October, 2007

Call Centre Hell

Filed under: Bad,Call Center,Customer Service — shamrin @ 12:47

You know I would really prefer to talk about great moments in customer service here rather than dwell on the negatives. But this blog entry from Rajan Sodhi in the BIG Marketing for Small Business blog is eye popping. In it, he describes how he had to wait in a call queue for well over an hour on three successive occasions to change a ticket on Expedia Canada. Is this the level to which customer service has sunk in North America? I remember many years ago when I moved to Sweden how we used to talk about the amazing level of customer service that we got in America and compare it to the relatively poor levels around Europe. But you know, even my bank back in the UK answers my call within a few rings.

I also note, as if to add insult to injury, Expedia blame the delay on “high security standards”. Huh? What are they talking about? Hang on, let me get my Erlang tables out of the drawer here and see where to account for “high security”. This seems like the double-whammy to me, treat your customer poorly then lie to him about the reasons. Shame.

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3 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the link love, Steve!

    Keep on fightin’ the good fight!

    Comment by Spike Jones — 18 October, 2007 @ 18:48 | Reply

  2. You know, it’s funny – service provided in a UK bank is better than in North America. And customer attrition rates at European banks is significantly lower than North American banks. Coincidence? Hmmn.

    Comment by Rob McDougall — 19 October, 2007 @ 22:51 | Reply

  3. Why limit it to Expedia? It seems that companies that have outsourced their “customer support” service to someplace in India, where you deal with guys named ‘Joe’ and ‘Pete’ who speak with a heavy south Asian accent are all the same. I am currently dealing with a similar debacle trying to cancel my AT&T telephone service through their outsourced “customer support”. After 10 weeks of repeated efforts over the phone, I resorted to e-mail. I will include the text of the correspondence below. Judge for yourself:

    E-mail complaint to AT&T sent on 10/19:

    On 7/26 I mailed a payment for service from 7/17-8/16. I authorized a
    transfer of service to Cox on 8/17. Cox submitted a service change
    request on 8/17 (NPAC #87333173) to Quest, who leases AT&T the lines.
    Cox began providing service on 8/17. I paid an AT&T bill on 8/25 for
    service from 8/17-9/16 by mistake. I received another AT&T bill from
    9/17-10/16 on 9/27. I called AT&T and relayed all of this information
    to them at that time (Conf. #W7CT0927). They told me to call 1-700-555-4141
    as a followup. That number reports my service provider as Cox. On
    10/19 I checked again if this had been resolved. It has not. AT&T
    still insists that they are my service provider. They now say I owe
    $163 for services since 9/16. Service ended on 8/17! I will not pay
    for services that I did not receive and did not desire to receive!
    Why wasn’t service stopped at least after my 9/27 call to customer
    service? I have filed a complaint with FCC (#07-W13480039). Halt
    service immediately!

    AT&T Response on 10/20 @ 3:20 AM:

    Dear Steven Robert Bailey:

    Thank you for contacting AT&T Local Service.

    I received your e-mail concern about receving bills after cancellation
    the AT&T services.

    In reviewing the records, I show that you are still with AT&T for your
    local and long distance services.

    Pleased be informed that your account has been referred to a specialist
    to validate the cancellation of the services. If the service
    cancellation is validated your local services will be canceled and a
    final bill will be generated including credit for any charges billed in
    advance.

    You are advised to contact your local carrier of your choice. Once your
    order is placed, AT&T records will automatically be updated and your
    service will not be interrupted.

    I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you due to the bill you
    received.

    For quick answers to commonly asked questions about AT&T Local Service
    please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/assistance#local

    To change or add features to your Local Service, please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/fus_landing

    Let us know how we are doing! You will be receiving an email invitation
    for a survey about this email response shortly. Your response will help
    provide feedback on our level of customer care.

    Sincerely,

    Rachel
    AT&T Local Service

    My Reply to their response on 10/20 @ 8:07 AM:

    No, you do not understand me. I have done this process with you twice
    already over the phone with customer service. Despite that, AT&T still
    failed to cancel the service. It is not up to you to decide if I am
    your customer. It is up to me to decide. I am saying cancel the service
    in any event. I want it canceled. I no longer wish to be a customer
    of AT&T. CANCEL MY SERVICE NOW. We can sort out who owes who anything
    after the fact. Your repeated delay in doing this simple thing continues
    to make the problem worse. CANCEL THE SERVICE. I AM AUTHORIZING YOU TO
    CANCEL THE SERVICE. At what point is my message to you unclear.
    _CANCEL THE SERVICE_.

    AT&T Response on 10/20 @ 9:07 AM:

    Dear Steven Robert Bailey:

    Thank you for contacting AT&T Local Service.

    I received your request to cancel the AT&T local service for the number
    602-347-0441 effective immediately.

    I understand that you switched to Cox as of August 17, 2007. I have
    referred your account to a Specialist to cancel the service. I am
    unable to quote a time frame. However, your account will be worked upon
    as soon as possible.

    Your confirmation number for this transaction is W66Q1020. I apologize
    for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.

    IMPORTANT:
    Your final bill will be received after the disconnect date, and will
    contain any partial monthly charges resulting from the disconnect as
    well as any credit for billing paid in advance.

    If you have questions regarding your final bill, please contact us via
    e-mail or call local customer service at 1-800-288-2747, available
    Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Local Time.

    AT&T is sorry to lose your business. If we can be of further assistance
    to you in the future, please feel free to contact us.

    To cancel your AT&T WorldNet(R) Service account, visit:

    http://www.att.net

    Or contact the AT&T WorldNet Customer Service office at 1-800-400-1447,
    available 8:00 A.M. to Midnight, ET, seven days a week. Select prompt
    4.

    For customers who are speech and/or hearing disabled, please contact the
    AT&T WorldNet Service office via our TTY/TDD number, 1-877-TTY-WNET
    (1-877-889-9638). Customer Service Representatives are available from
    8:00 A.M. to Midnight, ET, seven days a week.

    For quick answers to commonly asked questions about AT&T Local Service
    please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/assistance#local

    To change or add features to your Local Service, please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/fus_landing

    Let us know how we are doing! You will be receiving an email invitation
    for a survey about this email response shortly. Your response will help
    provide feedback on our level of customer care.

    Sincerely,

    Richard
    AT&T Local Service

    My reply to AT&T’s Response on 10/20 @ 12:13 PM:

    I am assuming that this will also cancel the long distance service, correct?
    Or do I need to call and cancel that as well? Also, the last date on which
    any call activity took place on this account should have been 8/16 or 8/17.
    Can you confirm that no call activity has taken place after 8/17?

    AT&T reply on 10/21 @ 7:25 AM:

    Dear Steven Robert Bailey:

    Thank you for contacting AT&T Local Service.

    I received your e-mail regarding then cancellation of your AT&T
    Services.

    Please be informed that you need to contact your new local telephone
    company to cancel your AT&T Long Distance Services. Your new local
    telephone company controls the switch where a change in long distance or
    local toll carrier takes place and only they can make the change in
    carrier. Because your new local telephone company will only take the
    order for a change in carrier directly from you or from your preferred
    new carrier, AT&T as your current carrier cannot make the change.

    Our record confirm that on your current bill no calls has been made.
    However, on your August 16, 2007 and September 16, 2007 bill there is
    calls on your bill. As you were enrolled in AT&T One Rate USA Plan you
    were not charged anything for the calls. The AT&T One Rate USA Plan has
    a Local service with unlimited local calling and unlimited long distance
    calling.

    If you need a further assistance, please contact our local customer
    service at 1-800-288-2747, available Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to
    7:00 PM (Local Time), and our representative will assist you.

    For quick answers to commonly asked questions about AT&T Local Service
    please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/assistance#local

    To change or add features to your Local Service, please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/fus_landing

    Let us know how we are doing! You will be receiving an email invitation
    for a survey about this email response shortly. Your response will help
    provide feedback on our level of customer care.

    Sincerely,

    Rose
    AT&T Local Service

    My reply to AT&T’s response on 10/21 at 6:27 PM:

    I did contact my new local telephone company in early August to authorize
    the change of service from AT&T. The new carrier submitted a change request
    on August 17th. The request was submitted to NPAC as request #87333173.
    This information was provided to AT&T a second time on 9/27. And at my request,
    because AT&T still had not canceled service as of 10/19, the new carrier
    re-submitted the request yet again on 10/19. Nevertheless, your records
    still show that service is active – despite the fact that no calls have been
    placed on that number through AT&T service since 8/17. Now you are telling
    me that I cannot cancel my own service, that only the new provider can cancel
    my service. Apparently AT&T does not cancel service upon request by either
    the new local carrier, or the customer. Tell me, what must I do to get AT&T
    to stop the service? You have the request number, the date, and my request
    to cancel the service. What more do you need?

    AT&T’s response on 10:22 @ 1:32 AM:

    Dear Rob and Becky Bailey:

    Thank you for contacting AT&T Local Service.

    I received your e-mail stating that you have canceled your AT&T
    Services.

    Our records show that your order to cancel your AT&T Services is
    pending.

    Depending on your bill date, you could receive another monthly bill.
    Please pay that bill in full. Your final bill will be received after
    the disconnect date, and will contain any partial monthly charges
    resulting from the disconnect as well as any credit for billing paid in
    advance.

    If you have questions regarding your final bill, please contact us via
    e-mail or call local customer service at 1-800-288-2747, available
    Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Local Time.

    I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.

    AT&T is sorry to lose your business. If we can be of further assistance
    to you in the future, please feel free to contact us.

    For quick answers to commonly asked questions about AT&T Local Service
    please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/assistance#local

    To change or add features to your Local Service, please visit us at:

    https://www.customerservice.att.com/fus_landing

    Let us know how we are doing! You will be receiving an email invitation
    for a survey about this email response shortly. Your response will help
    provide feedback on our level of customer care.

    Sincerely,

    Jimmy
    AT&T Local Service

    And my response on 10/23 @ 8:33 AM:

    This is the text of a message from our new provider in reference to your
    statement in the prior response that only my new provider could cancel
    my service, that you could not cancel my service upon my request.
    Apparently, the new provider says that only AT&T can resolve the
    problem – that everything that can be done by the new provider has been done.
    Read below:

    Dear Mr. Bailey:

    Thank you for your recent e-mail to Cox Communications regarding your Cox Digital
    Telephone service. We are delighted
    Our records indicate you have had our Cox Digital Telephone service since 8/17/07.
    In addition, since 8/17/07 we show you have had Cox as your long distance provider.

    Regretfully, we are unable to resolve this issue from our end. Please contact
    AT & T to have them credit your account with them from 08/17/07.
    We are sorry for any inconvenience this matter may be causing you.

    Thank you again for contacting us via e-mail. Please let us know if we can
    be of further assistance.

    Sincerely,

    Kimberly
    E-Care Specialist

    So here is the situation as it stands now with AT&T. Our service was transferred
    to Cox on 8/17, and a service change request was submitted by Cox on the same day.
    67 days later, AT&T still has not shut down service on that phone number and continues
    to bill us. Cox has re-submitted the change request at our insistence. That did
    not work. I have repeatedly called AT&T customer service myself and requested
    cancellation, and that did not work either.
    AT&T insists that they are my provider, but when asked to cancel the service they
    insist that only the new provider can cancel the service. If there is a new provider,
    then why does AT&T continue to bill me for services not rendered? Why do they not shut
    down the account? Why do they continue to say they are my provider if there is a new
    provider?

    And if there is not a new provider, and AT&T is the current provider as your records
    show, then why do they not shut down service upon my request?

    This situation is illogical. I activated the service. I want it shut off. All of the
    evidence – AT&T’s phone activity since 8/17, billing statements from Cox beginning on 8/17,
    Email messages from Cox stating that service began on 8/17, the 1-700-555-4141 number
    stating that Cox is my service provider, my own statements that I switched to Cox on 8/17,
    and my non-payment of bills for service generated after 8/17 despite an otherwise perfect
    payment history in several years of doing business with AT&T – all of these show that
    AT&T’s records are in error. I am left to come to only one conclusion – that AT&T is
    deliberately delaying the termination of my services as part of a general practice to
    create inconvenience, delay, and expense to customers who leave and take their phone
    numbers with them.

    I will not pay for any services that you bill me for after the termination date of 8/17.
    I don’t care what your records show. I don’t pay for services that I did not receive,
    and did not desire to receive.

    And that is where it stand now – still unresolved, and I am still being billed by two different companies for the exact same service. AT&T’s outsourced customer service is a demonstration of brain death in action.

    Comment by Robert Bailey — 24 October, 2007 @ 11:11 | Reply


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