All entries for Thursday 01 December 2005

December 01, 2005

Customer service? The NTL saga continues…

Please forgive me, for I must rant.

Those Gods of organisation!
We, foolishly, decided to go with NTL for our internet and phone last year, mainly because we had no phone line and they are the only ones who do free installation. I rang them and asked them to come and install broadband and a phone line at the beginning of the year. They came… and only installed the broadband. I rang them and they said they needed someone else to set up the phone contract seperately. So my housemate Amy agreed to do this and organised to have them come and fit it. Three engineers came on three seperate occasions, all with different and wrong ideas about what we wanted and all unable to complete the job. Each of these times someone had to make sure they were home to let them in.
Meanwhile, they had begun charging Amy for the phone line we never got. After many phone calls we got fed up, decided a phone line wasn't worth all the fuss, and Amy cancelled the direct debit and told them we didn't want the service. We then had a series of threatening letters asking for the money Amy wasn't paying them. We had lost count of the amount of times Amy had rung them (from the phone box at the end of the road, I may add, because we had no land line and our mobiles did not permit freephone numbers!) to reiterate that we didn't actually have this phone line and that they could come round whenever they wanted to check!
Eventually they got the message. But that's not the end of the story…
Our broadband contract ended (as far as I thought) at the end of June as we were on the 10-month student contract. So, bearing in mind our previous experiences, I cancelled the direct debit once we'd paid up. In mid September I began to get calls from an 0800 number to my mobile phone. I couldn't answer because the microphone on my phone was broken, and anyway I don't normally return calls from unknown numbers unless they leave a message. So when I got my new phone I answered the 0800 call and – surprise, surprise – it was NTL wanting to extort another 3 months' broadband charges from me because they'd forgotten we were on a 10-month contract! I corrected them and the bloke said that my account would be updated. A week later I received another call and had the exact same conversation with someone else, so clearly my account hadn't been changed at all. Thereafter the phone lines went quiet for a while so I thought it might all be resolved…
Until about 3 weeks ago. I received several missed calls from them before they rang me when I could actually pick up the phone. This time they wanted to check with me why I'd stopped my contract with them and ask whether I wanted to use their services in my current property. I told them, emphatically, no, and asked if they would please stop contacting me.
Since then I have received a phone call from them nearly every day, and have picked up at least three times, each time reiterating my previous sentiment and asking them to stop calling. To no avail. So I am going to send them a letter saying that I'm reporting them to the Trading Standards Agency and see whether that makes any difference.

I haven't finished yet!

The SoftBack Preview…
Is a book club to which I belong. They do the usual thing of sending you a recommended title every month which you must reject if you don't want it. I sent them a letter two weeks before I moved house, in June, to give them my new address. I was unable to change my personal details online, as there is no facility for it, or by phone (which I'd have preferred), because their entire phone system is automated and doesn't involve any real people! By the middle of August I had become suspicious that they had ignored my letter as I hadn't heard anything from them.
So I sent them another letter, reiterating the change of address and asking them to cancel any orders I hadn't rejected since the end of June, as I hadn't received them due to the move. But, lo and behold, three weeks ago I was sent a book I never had the opportunity to reject.
So I then rang up their automated service to return it. They operate a courier service to collect returned books. However, they don't even commit to a specific day, let alone a time, when they will call and they charge £3 a time for the service even if they don't pick up the book! So, living in a house of students with erratic timetables, I decided I couldn't take the risk, and I presume every other working household in the UK would have a similar problem.
Thus, I sent the book via Royal Mail to them, asking them to refund the price of the book, the delivery cost they charged me originally (as I'd already told to cancel everything from June until the date of the second letter), and the £7 I spent on posting.
And, what a surprise, this week I received a bill from them for the book and the postage…
Which means another letter…

Seriously though, how do companies get away with such ineptitude? Everyone I know has at least one company that they've had to deal with that have been similarly useless, so why can't something be done?! The removal and outsourcing of call centres and lack of proper administration and communication is costing millions of people lots of time and money. When will we really get to the end of our tethers and decide that something has to be done?!

December 2005

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