Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why We Still Hate Phone Companies

Everyone still hates the phone company. My recent interaction with T-Mobile, validates a common shared ambivalence. Why are telcos so easy to hate? Their arrogance and complete disregard for customers is expressed by their customer service actions.

I signed up for T-Mobile “pay as you go” service after overcoming the shock that Wi-Fi wasn’t free at Starbucks. Beginning the moment after my credit card was processed, the T-Mobile Hotspot network at the Starbucks on East 77th and Lexington got funky. Every 90 seconds it dropped my connection and forced me to log-in again. This went on for the better part of a vente café au lait or until my murmured curses prompted the woman at the next table to acknowledge how spotty the network connection was and how frustrated it made her too.

I e-mailed T-Mobile customer care to complain and demanded a refund for the session. I immediately got an acknowledgement e-mail assigning me a case number (773354) promising real communication within 48 hours.

Two days later I got an e-mail from “Vasha” thanking me for contacting them and apologizing for the inconvenience. So far so good, though what kind of name is Vasha?

By the second sentence, they are laying out reasons why the cnnection might have been so unreliable. But each reason offered implies that the problem was my fault because I might be running a firewall or anti-virus program or because my wireless card driver might not be installed correctly. Rather than just admit that everything isn’t perfect on their network all the time, T-Mobile puts the perfoirmance burden on me.

The implication is that users screw up network performance which probably reflects the
company notion that customers are a necessary evil. What about all the possible reasons a network might not work properly that are network-oriented faults? Would Catherine Zeta-Jones be so quick to blame me for spotty performance? And how come there wasn’t a peep about my refund request?

In a 1-to-1 world, why did I get a one-size-fits-all response designed to get rid of me with faux politeness?

T Mobile, like other telcos, pretends to be infallible, mildly insults the customer who takes the time to interact with them and then wonders why we churn so quickly and why its so hard to create brand advocates.

Whatever happened to the idea that the customer is always right?


Anonymous simon said...

Yeah I had the same issue a few months back. I signed up for the monthly rate. On the 30th day, while also speaking with an operator about spotty service the operator told me that my monthly rate would expire but because of the problems they'd extend it a few more days for me for free. A few days later I got charged for a 2nd month of service. After complaining to the supervisor, I was told the previous operator had made a mistake and that there was nothing they could do!!!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jason Runkel Sperling said...

Phone companies are evil and it takes epic amount of time to even deal with them...

I'm starting a war against SBC to get my $$ back.

1:25 PM  

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