Engineers and Developers save the day!

OK, a quick update on yesterday’s blog post, on how individual people work hard at fixing the problems of corporate policy. Yesterday the service tech came by anyway, left his business card, found and fixed the problem for the hum..asked that I double check this morning, and if it was still a problem he’d come back out. So while the corporate policy was to stiff arm the customer, the tech in the field saved the day. Thank you to the engineer and the developers who make the world work in spite of policy.

The death of Customer Service

In the last month, I’ve had the “opportunity” to have to use customer service from a couple of companies.  Both companies have websites and call centers, with the goal of improving customer service.  To say that they actually provide customer service is another thing.  The first is a major appliance manufacturer. About 14 months ago we had to replace our clothes dryer.  After 15 years, our old dryer had a problem with one of the boards, and while almost every other part could be repaired or replaced, this part was no longer available.  So we spent a few months investigating and picked up a brand new dryer with a ton of positive reviews on multiple sites.

Now 14 months later, the dryer’s drum won’t turn.  Of course the warranty is only 12 months, so it is no longer covered by a warranty.  We tried calling using the website for customer service, and after spending 30 minutes trying to find the right place and form, decided let’s place a phone call.  The phone tree was confusing, and given that they manufacture almost every major appliance, plus a ton of consumer electronics, we tried the press * until the tree finally got confused enough to drop us to a human.  The person answering the call then tried spending the next 5 minutes ignoring our questions and taking us thru the call tree options again. We hung up.  Instead we called the major retail chain where we bought the dryer and got their support team.  They scheduled the appointment quickly and then tried to sell us a $500 service plan on a $600 dryer. When we politely said no, they tried three more times.

Nearly three weeks ago, I had an early morning call I had to take for work and decided I could take it at the house before going to the office.  When I got on the line there was such an awful hum on the line, that the participants on the call couldn’t understand me, nor could they hear each other.  I tried using mute on my phone, but ended up having to hang up, missing the entire call.  I got off the call and called customer service for my local land line company.  They indicated that there were a bunch of service calls happening and they would have to schedule coming out a few days later.  While frustrated I agreed to this delay, and changed my wake up time to I could make it into the office for early calls.  They day of service came and went and no one came by. I used the website to check and had a 30+ minute chat only to be assured that they would come the following day on Friday in the afternoon.  On Friday, no one showed, and due to my work schedule (working from home on Friday) I didn’t have time to call back.  On Monday morning, the line is just as bad as the day the problem started and I reached out via chat… The person informed me that a service tech had been there on Friday and checked the line at the street without finding a problem and closed the ticket.  WTH? The problem is in the house, and we have been faithly paying for the “in house wiring” support for 17 years.  I informed the chatter that this was the case, that I was upset that they had not even rang the doorbell, and that they had closed the ticket without any customer interaction.

At this point the chatter politely apologized and offered to create a new ticket for me.  Sure, I said as the problem was still there.  At this point in time I was able to provide a bit more information, as the problem was worse in the morning.  I indicated this and requested that they come the next day.  I was told the nearest time was a week later (on Wednesday), I asked for a service escalation, as this was unacceptable.  I was ensured that the ticket would be escalated and I should expect someone to show up on Monday instead.  Monday, came and went, with no service.  Checking the online ticket system it indicated an appointment between noon and 9pm on Wednesday (the original schedule).  So I changed my work schedule and worked from home on Wednesday now, because they would need to come into the house.  I started checking the online tool at noon, between back to back calls that I am now doing from my computer as the line still has the hum.  

At 9:01pm I call customer service.  I ask, so what happened?  Apologies, from the service person, the techs couldn’t come by.

Why didn’t they contact me? Apologies, I will schedule a new appointment.  Does tomorrow work?

No, I have been inconvienced enough.  I want them here Friday morning, and I want to talk to a supervisor because this has been going on too long.

At this point customer service really breaks down.  The poor guy on the phone could only say “I’ve entered that in your record” and we will try to get someone there. I asked, I want to  be notified on Thursday afternoon to confirm the person is coming and what time.  “I’ve noted that in your record”.  

Me, many things have been noted in my record but nothing seems to matter.  Can I speak to your supervisor? 

“Sorry, there’s no supervisor available.”  

Me – Ok, what’s their name and number so I can call them when they are available.

“Sorry, we don’t have a name, it’s a pool”.

Me – Ok, who’s the manager of the group?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – Ok, who’s the director, of the group?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – who will call me to confirm  my problem will be solved this time?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – Ok, what’s your name so I can voice my displeasure when I do finally get a name.

“My first name is – XXXXXX”

Me – Ok, and your last name.

“Sorry that information is not relevant”

Me – yes it is, what if your name

“here’s my serial number”

Me – Thank you, ok who can I talk to.

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

At this point the call ended.  I am still not sure if I will ever get my phone to work correctly.  I am hoping that my network in LinkedIn can help get me to anyone who actually can resolve a problem.  It is obvious that Customer Service has become the route to get customers to go away, and to setup a process that blocks escalation.  The fact that XXXXXX has no “ability” to provide any meaningful information means that he got the brunt of my built up frustration.  I have detailed chat logs that I kept from my interactions on the Web, and the chat system was supposed to send logs, but they never came.  

So much for Customer Service!!!

Brexit and social media

I don’t tend to  post a bunch here, and I’ve been crazy busy lately, so I feel a bit guilty that I’ve not had much time to blog.  So what’s up?

I have been completely dumbfounded by Brexit, and the demographic split that has shown up in the UK during this debate.  A while back a friend and co-worker had recommended a podcast for me to listen to – it’s called More or Less.  They had spent a few episodes prior to the vote going thru the various numbers and rhetoric on Brexit to help voters stay informed.  The second podcast I listen to is WNYC’s On the Media, which recently had an rebroadcast episode on Lies and politics. Highly recommend that you listen to these two podcasts to get a better understanding of how things like Brexit come to be.  Perhaps I live in the tech bubble so most of the people I know in the UK were on the side of stay.  However, recently I went to a local meetup, and we have a UK Ex-Pat who is a financial adviser.  He is of (or beyond) retirement age, and a big supporter of Brexit.  To be honest, his position floored me.  He certainly came down on the side of local control of borders and reduction of EU regulations.  However, after listening to the More or Less podcast and talking to others, I find that the regulation aspect, is a bit of a red herring, and the benefits of open borders in the EU, far out weigh the perceived threat.  

Speaking of open borders – social media.  Social Media have continued to drive open communications across geographical boundaries, while at the same time reinforcing echo chambers for many people.  In the past I’ve been a huge user of Twitter, but the amount of self promotion and marketing BS I get in Twitter, has caused me to get more and more of my social media fix via Facebook.  However, Facebook tends to cause a bit of an echo chamber for me. I get frustrated by the political rants of old friends who have drifted away from how I remembered them growing up.  I have unfriended many of them.  I get annoyed by family members who have diametrically different social views as mine, I mute some of them.  And ultiamately I end up going more and more narrow in the feed.  And when something does pop up in the feed that I don’t like, it becomes even easier to mute or unfriend.  What I find interesting about this, is I tend to feel like I am open minded, and respectful of other people’s opinions, but in practice when I don’t see it reciprocated I block / unfriend, etc.  So am I being narrow minded or am I protecting my sanity?