I can only say that the past few weeks have been interesting.
My wife and I have moved house, which means that we’ve had to deal with a number of different customer service providers. Some make life easy. They let you change address information online, or let you speak to a human easily and quickly.
Examples of some of the best for us include Severn Trent Water and Basingstoke and Deane Council – although the latter’s website wouldn’t let us enter our new address, so the online experience wasn’t actually perfect.
Two, however, stand out as complete disasters.
My wife has spent over seven hours on the phone to BT. The cause of such heartache and angst: attempting to get two phone lines with broadband into the new house (which, by the way, already had two lines physically installed, so you’d assume that it would only be a matter of seconds to punch some buttons on a computer and, voila, numbers done).
I have to say that BT must have one of the worst-trained staff, and incompetent systems, ever put together.
The problems started when we tried to use BT’s Moving Home facility on the website. Result: computer says no.
So we speak to an operator. An hour or two later, an order is about to be placed and then… computer says no. Reason: that there is an existing business line in the property, so domestic sales can’t deal with it.
So we’re transferred to business sales (why, when we’re ordering standard domestic lines, is beyond us).
Business operator is unable to deal with it. In fact, they can neither find the property nor the phone lines that are there.
Cool systems, BT.
So it’s back to domestic. Eventually, an order is placed, and an engineer visit is lined up. Unfortunately, the operator involved tells us that it is not possible to order broadband until the phone line is installed.
The engineer arrives.
The engineer has not been briefed in any way as to what he is to do.
We show him the order.
He is not allowed to look at that, and has to use his own work order.
We can’t ring BT due to the fact that the lines aren’t working.
He can’t ring BT either.
Eventually, however, he climbs poles, attaches equipment and makes things happen. He leaves us with a working line.
We try to order broadband. We’re told that it is going to take a minimum of two weeks.
My wife spends a further two hours on the phone, and eventually reaches someone with a small modicum of power and common sense. She accelerates the broadband order. I ask for the username and password to set up my own ADSL modem.
She tells me that when I fire up IE, and login, then I’ll be able to find out the password. I explain that this is clearly not possible, as without the password to enable the ADLS modem to connect to the BT network, I won’t be able to login.
She advises that BT Tech Support will be able to deal with that on the day.
The day arrives, and broadband comes online. We contact BT for support on the password. Two hours (I kid you not) later, my wife is finally told that she will have an SMS with the password in the next ten minutes.
Five hours later the password arrives.
We have broadband!
Now we want to add BT Privacy. We’re told that we cannot, due to the fact that the order for broadband is not complete.
Until we’ve received the HomeHub, the order is not complete.
Delivery of the hub will be July 4th. Except, July 4th comes and goes. No hub. Therefore, no order completion. Therefore, no chance to order BT Privacy.
Another hour or so on the phone.
Hub due to be delivered now on the 8th. When? Who knows?
(It’s not arrived as I write this!)
Then we get charged £130 for the engineer visit. Wife goes ballistic! Another phone and email exchange with BT. Charge is removed.
Tomorrow, line two should – hopefully – come on line (as they say). But who knows.
The second villain of the piece is Sky.
Now, to be fair, I’ve always had really good support from Sky. And when we told them that we were moving, the customer support was excellent in arranging engineer visits. And the engineers themselves were cool, as the installation of the dish in the new house was tricky.
So I was happy.
Up until yesterday, when I spent 90 minutes on live chat with Sky support in a vain attempt to get them to enable Sky Go on my devices. And here’s the stupid bit.
We had Sky Go. Which is great, and lets you watch Sky programming on two devices. As part of the move, we upgraded to Sky Multiroom – we wanted a Sky box in the gym – and thus got Sky Go Extra for free.
This means that we can now have four devices. Woo hop!
So I deregistered one old PC, and registered a new PC. Leaving me with three slots for three other devices.
Then I tried to register another device.
Unfortunately, I’m not allowed. You see, the kicker here is that deleting and adding a device counts as the total amount of change that you’re allowed to do on Sky Go in a single month.
Net result: it will be three more months before I can register the other three devices (I can do one a month).
This is clearly stupid, so I contact Sky support and eventually ended up with Sunil, who is allegedly a customer service supervisor. Except Sunil is possibly the most useless person that I’ve ever come across in a support function.
Did he listen? No. Could he help? No.
However, he could confirm – and I checked this with him several times – that there is no-one in the whole of the Sky organisation who is allowed to reset the Sky Go account for a user. In fact, it is not possible because – and you’ve already guessed it – it’s an “automated system”.
Apart from the fact that Sky chose to go with Silverlight for the client tech, and don’t actually bother to support modern versions of Windows or MacOSX, they also invented a back-end system that doesn’t allow a human employee in Sky to modify account records.
What have they invented? SkyNet?
The machines are in control!
All in all, the thing that I’ve noticed the most during the entire move is that organisations broadly fall in to two categories: those that have developed systems, and trained and empowered their staff, to help their customers.
And then there’s BT and Sky.