Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why customer service is a sucky job

It's been a stressful week wrangling with clueless customer service. It's not that I think the customer service person is an idiot necessarily, but they just aren't aware of what's going on and they're hapless on the front lines.

Case #1 - ScotiaBank and the Land Titles Office

My late father's home was fully paid off around 2005. Just recently -- six years later, and over a year after he's DECEASED -- ScotiaBank sends a form to be taken to the Land Titles Office. It is to notify them that the mortgage on his home has been paid off and they should take it off the property.

So, I go to the Land Titles Office and get some song and dance about how nothing matters except getting the processing fee. (Like, WTF?)
At the Land Titles Office, I am explicitly told I do NOT have to report back to ScotiaBank because "they already know the mortgage has been paid off".

I go back to ScotiaBank and ask them how come it took six years before they sent the letter. They tell me that they in fact did send it out before, but my father never got back to them that it'd been processed.

Huh? The Land Titles Office says we don't need to tell ScotiaBank. The bank says we do. And somewhere in there, this falls off the planet for six years and is left undone until he's dead. And even then, they mail it to him and not the other person on title, my mother.

Case #2 - Six months of "free" internet service from SHAW

I was using my home internet connection very, very little, so instead of paying something like $20 per month to update my anti-virus software, I decided to chop off the internet connection and completely insulate myself from internet viruses that way.

About a week ago, I get a call from SHAW. Because I'm a "valued customer" (I now pay $30/month for the land line phone), they want to give me 6 months FREE internet service. Obviously to entice me back to signing up with them.
The telemarketer insisted it was free. Nothing was said about any payment scheme or what not. Straight up free, apparently.
I said yes. Why not?

Yesterday I get the electronic bill in my inbox. They've charged me $14.50 in "charges since your last invoice".
I try to log onto to find out what it is about, but probably because of some sort of technical glitch, my account number "can't be found". So I wait till 7 am PST to try the chat.
On comes an utterly clueless customer service person. She apparently hasn't been told what telemarketing is doing or what billing is doing, because she first tells me that she doesn't see the $14.50 charge I'm talking about on my account.

Then I tell her about the "free internet for 6 months" offer. She tells me that no, it's not "free". It "works out to be" free. By having a second service, I apparently save about $10 off the land line phone. The internet service is charged at a special offer rate of $9.95, so it will work out that I'm not paying anything extra. In the meantime, though, she did say I would see a pro-rated charge for the portion of the month I've had the service.
I tell her that the telemarketer told me it was free and didn't mention anything about "working out to be free". I ask her to pull the call recording to verify. She tells me calls are only recorded for training purposes.
Great. So it's my word versus the telemarketer.
Also, I'm not sure how a promotional rate of $9.95 per month prorates to $14.50 for just a portion of a month, but I didn't bring it up at the time.

2011-May-24 shaw invoice

I then point out that the bill says I've been charged $14.50, and the net bill for this month will be over $50 after tax. Clearly it is neither free, nor does it "work out to be free".
She says I have to wait for the "final bill". Huh? It looks pretty final to me, especially when it's in my inbox and it says clearly what amount will be deducted at the end of the month by automatic payment. The bill doesn't say anything about an adjustment coming. It would have been helpful to see the full billing detail or at least a note about the internet offer.

Of course, what would have been supremely helpful would be for their front line customer service pawns to be told what the heck is going on by telemarketing (how they are talking about the promotion) and billing (how the bill will show up for the customer), so they don't look like idiots in front of customers.

I try to cancel the service right away, but am told I need to call a 1-888 number. So on top of customer service being clueless and of no help, I am being shuffled off to a customer retention line to prevent me from cancelling the service. Do managers really not understand how infuriating that can be to a customer, to be passed on to someone else?
Honestly, they're just throwing their customer service people to the wolves by keeping them in the dark and structuring the flow of calls / inquiries / complaints in this way.

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