November 7, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICE

We are currently in the UK for a short visit, the main purpose of which was to bring my dad back home after his stay with us in October.

When Nick came to fetch him on 16th October he found that our phone and internet weren't working. A call to BT (thank goodness for mobile phones) revealed "a fault at the exchange" and he was told they would send an engineer to check it out in five days' time - not much use to him as he was only staying home for two days!

We arrived back home on 2nd November to find we still had no phone or internet.  Another call to BT revealed the same "fault at the exchange", but only after they tried to blame our equipment or internal wiring. We have no wiring. The line comes into the house and our phone plugs straight into the socket - the one that was installed by BT only four months ago.    We also checked it out using an old fashioned phone that doesn't require an electricity supply - one that we keep for emergency use such as in a power cut. That doesn't work either, suggesting a fault with the line.  BT said they would send an engineer to the exchange on 6th November - a wait of another four days.

By mid afternoon on 6th November we still had no phone. Another call to BT revealed that an engineer had been to the exchange and found no fault..........the previous day! So we were no further forward and they hadn't had the courtesy to inform us of the outcome.

I admire Nick for his calm and patience. I suppose decades of getting to the bottom of problems and getting the most out of people when they have failed to come up to scratch must be good training for dealing with a large company whose systems and processes for resolving problems are hopeless. Plus the fact that the person you have to speak to at the call centre is doing his or her best but probably doesn't give a toss or is already thoroughly demoralised. I would have found it very hard not to lose my rag.

We now apparently need an engineer to come and check it out at the house, which will be - in another four days.

This leads me to reflect on the current state of service and technology. The technology is fantastic but the service is awful. How did that come about? Why is it that these days the customer has to do not only his own quality control but also his own project management when things go wrong?

You can't actually get to deal face to face or even talk to someone who really seems to care or whose job depends on getting things done right.  Maybe that's the problem - large companies have great ways of getting your business through marketing but nobody takes any pride in doing a good job, whether it's the person in the call centre dealing with angry and frustrated customers, or the people who devise the processes for resolving problems. They seem to think that a refund of  a month's charge for the lack of service should make us happy.

However, Nick opened his iPad to find that we are connected after all using BT Wifi - and presumably the service of one of our neighbours. So at least we have the ability to check emails if not use the phone. If I pop round to my dad's house, log on to his internet and download the right app on my own iPad, I shall be able to do the same............

Meanwhile, we await the next instalment in the saga of getting our phone line fixed. At the current rate of four day intervals between each step in the process, and having to do our own project management, we'll be very lucky indeed if it's fixed by the time we go back to France!

13 comments:

  1. I think it would be the same in Melbourne but I find that, "the dog with a bone" effect with a bit of sugar coating usually gets you there but like Nick, patience is a key factor.
    Best of luck with it all.

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  2. BT are absolutely hopeless (and just for good measure they are increasing their charges next month!). I was recently forced (like thousands of others) to move from BT Yahoo E mail to BT Mail. Yahoo had it's problems but my goodness the 'new and improved' system is appalling. Lousy E mail search facilities, impossible to set a default setting for the size and style of font one desires to send E mails so that it is necessary to set it EVERY time one sends an E mail. Unbelievable! The first system I ever used back in 1996 was a thousand times better than this garbage. How on earth was this released as being 'fit for purpose'. Of course when you phone BT you get a very apologetic person 8 thousand miles away who can't do anything about it but just tells you 'It will get better'. I could keep repeating 'I'm going to win the Lottery' in the hope that it happens. I have about the same level of confidence. Sadly of course. BT don't give a damn despite their earnest'feedback' surveys and that is the root of the problem. Of course I must be a Grade 1 idiot for staying with them but tbh I have little faith in anybody else. Welcome to 2014. As you say, technology beyond our wildest dreams is apparently available, delivery of same is like something out of the Steam age. Pathetic!
    Good luck with getting your problem sorted. You will need it. :(

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  3. "Why is it that these days the customer has to do not only his own quality control but also his own project management when things go wrong?"

    Because when people vote in right-wing, capitalist governments, they're voting for the representatives of corporations whose primary goal is profit. That leaves customers (and many employees) to fend for themselves. Not all that mysterious, really. The voters in the US just did it again.

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    1. Walt, my recollection of how it was when these services were government owned is sketchy but somehow it seemed better. Maybe because you could go somewhere to complain and talk to a real person who actually seemed to care about doing a good job.
      The idea of de-privatising all these things appeals to me greatly for a number of reasons, but the tax payers might not be happy about it.

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  4. Bon courage. M'thinks you'll need it!

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  5. At least you can see how Daisy is getting on. I tried MMS - wouldn't go. I'll put today's pictures on Flickr and Facebook in the hope that you might be able to see one or t'other.

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  6. What a pain, service these days is useless. All our drainage here was dug up weeks ago and then they all went on holiday!!! They returned today, so we just hope that all gets finished now before more problems appear and it is Christmas!!
    Hope your weekend is a good one despite BT. Diane

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  7. Quality and service are of importance to many businesses. Especially businesses with monopoly or virtual monopoly. I truly wish you well in trying to resolve the problem.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. Bear, I had my own business for fifteen years and if I had treated my customers like BT do I wouldn't have lasted six months. I only had four employees but they were all trained to do their job properly and take pride in doing a good job. There was retraining if they didn't come up to scratch and praise when they did.
      I don't blame the BT call centre staff or the engineers. If they're not doing a good job it's all due to training and management. We could vote with our feet, cancel the landline telephone and use our mobiles, move our internet business elsewhere, but we still need the telephone line which only BT will provide, so they've got us cornered.
      As it happens we're better off with BT for the internet due to the wifi service they provide, and we're managing with our mobiles.
      I wonder if anybody listens to the feedback from the endless surveys they do - one after each call. Although I have a suspicion that only the dissatisfied customers ever take part in these surveys - another opportunity to vent their anger - I wonder if satisfied customers can't be bothered or don't see the point.

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    2. I don't understand why BT would provide wifi. Orange doesn't provide our wifi. It's a function of the modem/router you have. BT or Orange just provides the ADSL signal. You can buy your own modem/router (as we do) or you can go with the unit BT or Orange or whoever gives — or rents — you.

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    3. Ken, I'm not sure how it works but by having a BT internet account we are able to use the wifi of other BT customers, which is proving to be very handy!

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  8. "we'll be very lucky indeed if it's fixed by the time we go back to France! "....
    I hope you h'ain't fixed which of those returns to France you were thinking of!! ;o)...
    just off to be entertained by Daisy "Partoutix" Lacey!!

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  9. When we had problems with BT (same excuses blaming our wiring etc back and forth for weeks on end), we only started getting anywhere when we informed Customer Services that we wanted it noting on the file that we considered we were now officially "in dispute". Next visit we got the engineer and his manager visiting us and we got DAILY! updates on what they were doing at their end and it was all sorted very quickly, their wiring into the house was the problem. Good luck

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