Friday, 27 February 2015

Customer Disservices Speaking

Is it just us or is life at present a lot more complicated than it was  and becoming ever more intricate and demanding?  When we moved here in the 1990's a factor in our choice was that there was a full range of services locally available.  This meant less chasing about and made the paperwork much easier.

This is inspired by the need to renew our driving licences.  No longer can one just have a license for life, when age becomes greater there are procedures and checks and time limits. When these were introduced we had a DVLA office a short walk away.

This closed and we had to correspond with Swansea and as the paperwork become greater and less clear in the wording this was a nuisance.  Then it went online and that became more complicated again, a struggle to stay afloat in a sea of verbiage.

Our electricity suppliers had an office in the middle of town where it was possible to walk in, talk to someone who knew what they were doing and discharge the paperwork and payments secure in the knowledge that it was correct.  Now online you have to know exactly where to click and it is more likely to be wrong than right.

This is because the web site, like so many others, is now far more flashy with pages filled with items and the key links tricky to find.  This is just for basic routines.  If you are seeking hard information, clear advice and specifics then it is almost impossible.

On the credit card, payments in did not arrive.  There were three elements to this.  The payer, the money transaction company and the credit card.  So, perhaps foolishly, I totter down to the bank from which the card originated to meet a floor walker who denied that the bank now had anything to do with it.

Adding insult to injury he asserted that the money transaction company would be the last one he would choose.  So it meant resorting to the telephone.  The payer was in London and by a stroke of good fortune helpful and willing to check it out.

The money mob were in the USA and said it could not be them.  I needed lists of numbers, but luckily these were provided by the payer, not many I suspect would do this.  So it was back to the credit card company and formal written complaint.

Their call centre was in India, on checking up apparently at a location where the brother in law of an ancestor has a large and famous tomb.  After long conversations, I know how he must feel.  The matter is now dealt with, but how many people could cope with this I do wonder.

There are other examples.  What is unnerving about this is that the web sites in question are all passionate to sell me lots of things I do not want.  What I do want is hard information and too often this is not just lacking but all that is on offer is a jumble of meaningless marketing words.

Essentially, all the offices of the basic service used have gone.  It has to be phone customer services, a term I now dread, or online where the web sites are devoted to flashy imagery, sales, all sorts of incidental matters and too rarely either real information or simple systems to do basic business.

When there are problems or even routine complications it has become so much more difficult to deal with them and far from being efficient for the user, far more time consuming with greater mental wear and tear.

But this is now the norm.  How long is it since I was able to go into an office and talk to someone in ordinary language and with basic understanding.  Even the local council seems to be hidden out there in web bush country.

So, one good big solar burst or other cause of a major long term crash and there will be a collapse.  At least we will not be able to call it the collapse of a civilisation more chaos becomes chaos.


  1. You couldn't be more right. And its a situation everyone must get into in these enlightened times. I find that phone calls and even personal visits get you nowhere, the only thing that still works is the written word. Once its there and on file, they can't ignore that pesky letter, especially if it was sent recorded delivery. Like to write more here, but I've a letter to post...!

  2. This is what we find too. Even when we get to talk to real people they move on and next time it's someone else.

  3. Personal visits are all very well if you can find the buggers. I searched for ages to find a real office so I could rid myself of Virgin media only to find it hidden on an industrial estate in Sheffield about five miles from my then home. Ebay is under another stone somewhere.