Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Amazing Service

Just a follow up to my previous problem with my service provider. I mentioned at the end of my last post that I had been recommended another provider over Twitter, by name of "Odyssey Systems". I just thought I'd take the opportunity to congratulate them on the amazing service I have received so far. Their project manager was extremely helpful and I received every bit of information I required, without having to be passed backwards and forwards like I expected to be. Great recommendation and great service, let's hope it keeps up!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Calling idiots in the call centre to solve problems

Right, so I’ve been having some really big problems with the phone lines in my workplace, and I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions. Because the situation is really getting to me.

I’ll quickly explain my situation: I’m an office manager in an online music business, and so I’m partially responsible for all of the communications technology in the workplace (phones, broadband etc). Recently, after consulting with our tech guys, we decided to switch our phone line provider, naively assuming that we would get a better quality of service from the new company than our previous provider. I could not have been more wrong.

Two days after the lines were installed, people in the office started getting feedback on the line whenever they called someone on our internal network. At first, it was just a little fuzzy sound on a few people’s phones, but then everyone started to get feedback, which got progressively worse. (Do you remember the annoying buzzing noise computers used to make back in the days of dial-up internet? It’s basically like that). This makes it extremely difficult to talk to anyone by phone. Now, this is extremely annoying, but we do have e-mail, so we’re not completely cut off from contacting one another in the building. But, now the feedback problem has also affected our external lines, so that when customers call us, it’s extremely difficult for us to hear them and communicate with them effectively. We’ve sent out a notice explaining that we’re experiencing some technical difficulties and that we’re working to get it fixed, but let’s face it, this isn’t good for business. And new customers could easily be put off by this.

As soon as the feedback started to become a problem, I rang the customer service helpline to see if they could send someone out to sort it. This was approximately one week ago, and it’s been nothing but torture ever since. The first time I rang them, I was subjected to one of those ridiculous automated services for about 10 minutes (because why should a customer service helpline actually help people?). When I finally managed to get through all the rigmarole of pressing the 1 button repeatedly, I was forwarded through to a call centre in India. I explained the situation, and asked if they could send an engineer out to fix the lines. I was told that I was through to the wrong department, and they would forward me on to another department. This process was repeated about 8 times: each department I was forwarded to told me they couldn’t help me, and each time I had to explain the situation again and again and again. All I wanted was for an engineer to come out and fix the lines that they had botched up in the first place!

When I finally got through to someone who seemed vaguely competent, they informed me that, if I wanted an engineer to come out, I would have to pay over £100 for the privilege. This, despite the fact that I haven’t done anything to break the phone lines, but their people didn’t install them properly to begin with. I lost my rag at this point, and, although I’m slightly ashamed of it now, I did start shouting down the phone. Now, I know that it wasn’t the personal fault of the call centre worker, but after an hour and a half of getting passed around like a parcel, and then being told I had to pay for someone else’s mistake, I was pretty damn angry. I asked to speak to someone in the UK: I was then forwarded to another department in, you guessed it, India. Strange that this company has UK call centres for attracting new customers, but once you have a problem they outsource all the calls. And this is one of the UK’s major phone providers too: you’d think they’d have some concept of real customer service or even just installing things correctly. Apparently not.

Call centre workers kept trying to fob me off, saying that the lines would settle down, that there was nothing wrong with the lines as far as they could see, and maybe it was my office building that was the problem. The thing is, we’ve never had any difficulties like this before. And switching back to our previous provider really isn’t an option: their charges and costs had become so ridiculously expensive that it isn’t financially viable to go back to them.

The situation isn’t getting any better: every day I ring up the customer helpline, only to be subjected again and again to this obstacle course of hell, explaining the problem until I’m blue in the face and have no one listen to me or help. I just don’t see why I should have to pay to fix someone else’s mistake, and to have to go through all this stress just to get a simple engineer out to have a look at the phone lines.

So here’s where I could do with some help: The longer this goes on, the more I doubt that the problem will ever be fixed. It’s affecting my business and could really harm us financially if this goes on much longer. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation before – and if so, how did you handle it? Could anyone recommend a decent phone company to switch to? I’m seriously considering this last option; the expense of changing again might be far cheaper in the long run than faffing on with the company I’m saddled with at the minute. Any advice would be massively appreciated!


I have been recommended a business phone system provider called "Odyssey services" by someone over twitter, and I've decided to try them out after looking over their site earlier.