Sunday, February 17, 2008

Customer Service (No.1)

I'm furious. Roger & Margaret have just visited the house I inherited in Whitby some two years ago. Invoices from 'POWERGEN' or E-On were laid on the floor. Some of the letters said they were handing the bills into debt collectors and this 'would affect my ability to obtain credit'

I had of course written to them soon after I inherited the house in 2006 and told them that the previous owner, my mother, had died and I was responsible for the bills and that I lived in Ireland. No problem I thought. Then some months later in November of 2007 Trish and I visited the house and guess what was on the floor. Yes, more bills from 'Powergen' and threats to hand us over to debt collection agencies. Trish telephoned them. "No we cannot talk to you, only Mr. Perry as the invoices are addressed to him. In any case we don't send invoices overseas it costs too much" .

"But you're sending the invoices to the wrong address, we live in Ireland".

"Mr Perry will have to notify us again of your new billing address in writing"

I arrive home, Trish tells me to stay calm and she tells me the news. What a surprise I think, 'another customer care department that can't. I grab the 'phone and some mentally retarded peanut answers at the other end'; "Powergen, customer service, Tracey speaking how can help youuuuu"?

"I'm sorry sir we can't post invoices overseas". I tell her as politely as possible that she is talking utter crap and nonsense. Does she really believe that none of the owners of houses in the UK whose owners live abroad have their invoices sent to their overseas addresses? If this is true I ask her then how do they pay their bills?. She starts to tell me but I cut her off. "I want to speak to your manager",
"Sorry sir the manager is unavailable at the moment". This is utter rubbish I tell her, surely people like you can't be left alone? You'll have the company bankrupt. Now just go and get me your superior.

A few minutes later another minion greets me and asks what can she do to help. I go through the rigmarole again, clearly their procedures are only designed to reduce you to a state of submission. "So you see Mr Perry you'll have to inform us of your address in Ireland". Complete and utter rubbish I tell her, and ask her which address she has on the screen. She reads it out. Yes thats the correct address, the one I wrote and told you I wanted you to send the bills to. Why do you want it in writing again then if one of your staff is correct in telling me that you don't post invoices abroad? Clearly she is flustered and tells me that the previous, 'how-can-I- help-you', is wrong.

A few days later I calm down and write an angry letter of complaint pointing out the ridiculous nature of their requests. This letter clearly reminds them that they are to send invoices for address xxx in Whitby to address XXX in ireland.

Then Roger & Margaret telephoned. We've been to the house. invoices are on the floor threating civil action etc.,

I go to their website and look for the customer complaints form as in 'Contact us'. After much searching and being told the usual crap about striving for excellence I can't find anything about customer care. Never mind. I start to fill in the complaints box's. It's a joke surely?
One of the box's asks for your address. It won't accept mine in Ireland. It keeps asking for a postcode. Then it asks for your telephone number. It won't accept our number either. Even worse you cannot proceed unless you give it the correct English 'number, this is a joke as the number I give was disconnected two years ago. So my complaint now includes their complete inability to allow complaints to come from abroad. I use my mother's address, the non existent telephone number and press send.

I telephone them. "Powergen, customer service Jenny speaking how can I help youuuuu?".
She asks for the account number, which I give then asks me to confirm my name and address.
"No I won't, I don't want to speak to you. I want to speak to your manager" She asks me what the complaint is. "just get me a manager-and do it now!" She tells me her manager isn't there as its a Saturday. I avoid laughing at her and avoid telling her there is absolutely no way people like her can be left on their own without supervision.
"Go and get me the person who is in charge!" This she does this and Rebecca answers. (Poor Rebecca!).

I ask Rebecca what address she has on the screen for invoice purposes. She correctly tells me my Irish address. "So why are you not sending me invoices to this address?". I get told a story about foreign invoices are done in another customer call centre which doesn't open on Saturdays. Does it have a telephone number I ask?. "I'm sorry sir we can't give their number". So what are you going to do I ask? I'll look into it Mr Perry and get back to you but it might not be until Monday, she says. "Listen Rebecca all I want to know is why are you sending invoices to Whitby when you have the information on screen that they are to be sent to Ireland. And so this charade goes on for a few more minutes. Customer care indeed.

I give in. I live in hope.

(Monday morning). I receive an e-mail from customer services stating, amongst other things, that they note that they have been sending invoices to our Irish address and perhaps we aught to check at our post office. Well I've just e-mailed them back and said that if that is true then why are they sending them still to the Whitby address.

An update
Its now July 2008. Trish has just visited Whitby. Oh dear! Here we go again. More bloody bills laid on the floor threating us with court and bailiffs. If that were not bad enough we had transfered our billing system to the on-line system as e-on had suggested was away of making it foolproof.

1 comment:

Quite Guy said...

Don't you guys have Better Business Bureau over in the UK? or a government entity that would look into this?