Raising the BARR – Week ending 3 November 2017

When Customer Service Is Sacrificed For Profit

You know, the play book is pretty straight forward for the big corporates.  And we, the customers, lose out every single time.  Step 1 is to appoint a new CEO on $$millions per year plus a nice little bonus if the share price goes up.  Step 2, the new CEO slashes the workforce, and anyone that actually serves the customer.  Step 3, as a result of all of the sacked workers and the fall of customer service, the profits go up and so does the share price.  Step 4, the CEO gets a massive bonus payment because the share price has gone up.  Step 5, the CEO leaves the business, with a bumper golden-handshake payout, before the complaints from frustrated customers rise to the surface.  Step 6, repeat Steps 1-5.

During this past week I have had the great misfortune to need some help from one of our major telecommunications companies, formerly owned by the people of Australia.  To say that the customer service was hopeless, would be a compliment to just how terrible it was.  It starts with them trying to hide their phone number and goes backwards from there.  After searching around their website and trying some of their “self-help” tips, I finally uncover the elusive phone number.  I then spend 2.5 hours on the phone and the internet, being passed around to 10 or 12 different staff.  I still didn’t get a result.  In the end, I was given a secret pin code that would fix everything; I just had to enter it into my phone.  Needing to hang up the phone, to enter this pin code, I was set to lose my current staff contact that I had spent more than 2 hours getting to.  He assured me that he would ring back almost immediately to check that everything was okay.  Predictably, the secret pin code didn’t work at all.  I waited for the call back.  I waited.  I went to bed several hours later, no call.  I spent the next day waiting for that call, no call came.

While waiting for that call, I went back online to try to solve my own enquiry.  This “self-help” approach is what they really want me to do, because talking to a staff member requires them to have staff.  Online “self-help” is much cheaper, uses far less staff and the staff undoubtedly works under much poorer conditions.  The many many many pages, within the company website, that I explored, I found to be all equally hopeless, unless of course the purpose of them is to send you around in circles.  So again I rang the secret phone number hidden deep within their website.  My phone call experience this second time was identical to the previous afternoon (see above).  More than 5 hours later, I still don’t have the help that I needed.  I just want a copy of my bill/payment history for one of my devices.  Time to change providers I guess, to go to another corporate with the same business model.