Customer Service Counts

It never ceases to amaze me when companies display persistently poor customer service.

July 22, 2004

6 Min Read
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my horrible experience, vis a vis customer service, with T-Mobile. If you remember, I have my cell service with T-Mobile, and use a Treo 600.

Well, it's sad to say, their "World Class Customer Service" as proclaimed by JD Edwards (who are these guys and who do they talk with??) is sorely in error. Wait to you get a load of this tale of woe. This tale is so sad (How sad you ask?), that I called Germany to talk with Hans Ehnert, Vice President International Media Relations, Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile. Herr Ehnert's response was that "he wasn't interested in anything having to do with Customer Service." That was more than the response I got from Herr Michael Lange, the VP for International Communications, who never communicated at all.

However, smarter heads prevailed at Deutsche Telekom in New York City. Bernie Scholtyseck of Investor Relations was not happy with what he heard, and contacted Brian Zidar, the PR Manager for T-Mobile, US. Why were these gentlemen unhappy? It's really a two-fold reason.

The first reason is that I write for No company in its right mind wants bad press, although there is a theory that any press is better than no press. Thus I was able to gain "access" to channels that are not normally open to Joe or Jane cell phone user. The other reason is that when I'm not writing for Serverpipeline, I control a company that uses about twenty-five T-Mobile phones with an approximate aggregate of $120,000 of goods and services.

But I got ahead of the story. Tuesday the 13th was not a good day. I started with Verizon, and a Customer Service representative who was incapable of thinking out of the box. I had to call the President's Office to find an intelligent person to correct the problem. Next was T-Mobile for the first of the day's problems. It was incorrectly billing the company that I manage.It was a simple matter to credit me $20 and charge me $125. Sure they'd do it, after spending 20 minutes on the phone, if I faxed in the request. Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime. I found a Supervisor smart enough just to put the request though (after another 10 minutes, and this guy wanted me to spend more time on the phone as he moved my phone call from point A to point B, just for me to repeat myself. I told this Supervisor, "to take care of the problem, if there is a question, you call me."

If you've been reading my columns, one thing you'll pick up is that I don't suffer fools gladly

Next in this wonderful day was American Express. Another small minded, non-thinking autonotom failing to make a change that was both logical and permissible. Another "quick" call to the Ombudsman office of AMEX, and this task was done.

If you're thinking, what did I get accomplished on this most exciting of Tuesdays, was absolutely nothing. I spent all day wasting time on my phone with Customer Service, because none of these companies lived up to any definition of Customer Service.

Well, back to T-Mobile, and the last half of my tale of woe. It seems that my credit card expiration date expired. T-Mobile sent me a nasty gram (not a note saying please update) that my credit card was invalid. I updated the info, but for some reason the computer rejected the information. They turned off my phone. Nice guysSo I pay the bill, and they turn the phone on, but not the data connection. I first think it's my phone, since I've had some problems with my Treo 600. I call T-Mobile on Sunday night (the Sunday before this great Tuesday) and am told that I would need another phone, since they couldn't work on my phone, while I was on the phone. On Monday, I called back from a landline, only to be told that they had a GPRS problem in New York and it should be fixed the next day by 5 A.M.

So, Tuesday night I call again. What irks me is that in order to speak with the first gatekeeper at T-Mobile, you need to enter your cellphone number (or if calling from your phone, the system reads it automatically) and then give them your last four digits of your Social Security Number. Once done, you're permitted to speak with a "human" being.

Guess what their first question is? What's your last four digits of your Social Security Number. How insulting! What an utter waste of my time. And it gets worse, because you know this person can't help you and each time you are transferred they ask the same inane question.

I just plain refuse to do the same work over and over and over and over again. Not only would they not reset my account (not change anything mind you, just reset the account in the computer) but they didn't care that I was going to cancel both my service and the $120,000 a year account because I just don't want to deal with a company where the supervisors are incapable of using any aspect of intelligence in dealing with customers.

Now back to Mr. Zidar. He called on Wednesday, very upset that I was having this trouble for both myself and the company. He couldn't understand why I was getting such poor service, since JD Edwards claimed otherwise (again, who are these people and why should I trust them?). But in the interest of keeping this story on a positive note, and keeping the $120,000 account, he said that the "special account unit" would contact me.Well, it's now the afternoon of the day after (that's Thursday folks) and not only is my own phone still not getting the Internet and my all important e-mail, but I haven't heard from this special unit. Guess his attempt of keeping me happy didn't quite work. A word to the wise, Brian: Customer Service means trying harder than the next guy and following up!

My question to you, faithful reader, is this: Am I the only one who is on the receiving end of bad, and I mean really bad Customer Service, or is this the level of Customer Service your willing to accept. Are my standards too high?

Or, should you be complaining like mad to the highest level of management you can find when your treated like dirt, not like a valued important customer who is spending your hard eared money for services?

We, which includes yours truly, your vendors and your fellow readers really want to know

I'll let you know what happens should the situation ever get resolved.0

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