Only Child asks “Where’s the customer service?”

Only Child with her parents in saner times at her grandfather's farm

Only Child with her parents in saner times at her grandfather’s farm

Are people working at call centres/customer service and even sales getting dumber and/or are they just not being trained properly?

Been hit on again dealing with businesses and public utilities. Snafu with my new laptop order from Dell and the dufus in customer service for Direct Energy insisted I had to pay more than the confirmed amount for my furnace heating plan or I couldn’t book the annual cleaning.

Huh?

First, Dell…and with apologies to my cousin Bill in Stratford, Ontario (he’s an independent who fixes computers – hardware and software) who warned me that Dell isn’t what it used to be since founder Michael Dell decreased his ownership in the company. Well, Michael Dell is supposed to be back later this week with the reins in his hands so hopefully service will improve.

The fellow who “took care” of my order to get the new leased laptop messed up. After we straightened out what I wanted (and I got help from my son, the computer techie here), he sent me an email that the order had gone in and gave me the link to track its progress. The link also put the outside delivery date as Oct. 2, 2013.  On October 2, no laptop had arrived and the “progress” report still said “order being processed.” I emailed the sales rep and his reply said that the order didn’t go through with that order number. Oh really? He put the order in again under a different number and requested that it be expedited. But the outside date is after this coming weekend so my son will have to come a later weekend to finish doing all the software updates/additions, transfer from the old laptop, etc. I just checked the tracking online now and it still says “in production” which in Dell speakeze means “Time spent for actual build up of your order until it is picked up by Carrier.”

Good think I didn’t phone in my request to return the current laptop. And also good thing I extended the contract on a month-by-month basis in May (when that three-year-lease was up) and extended the service warranty for hardware. I was told then that after 18 months the laptop was mine. I laughed off that then. Now, I’m wondering. I’ve been a Dell customer for11 years (four laptops on three-year leases each) and never all these problems, which I told Mr. Dufus in my email about the new laptop not arriving yet.

Today I phoned Direct Energy to book the annual furnace maintenance – as suggested in the letter they sent me that I had  automatic renewal of my home heating protection plan. This is usually a no-brainer but some extreme dufus whom I could hardly understand what he was saying, insisted I needed to change my agreement to something else that cost more because of the type of furnace I have and until I did I couldn’t get a service maintenance call. I saw red, purple and a few other colours. In no uncertain terms (and several times I had to repeat it –where do they get these dufuses for customer service?) that this was the same contract I’ve had for two or three years and the first year I had a discount but I’ve had no problems with the contract renewal and booking the maintenance service call. I said, “connect me to a manager now.” He did.

What a change with Wendy the manager. I am getting a new contract but at a discount rate. She said any year I can call in and get the discount rate for a year. She said she would make changes to my plan and said when the new lower rates would start. And she booked me an appointment for next week to get my furnace cleaned and serviced as I still had that included service not done for the current contract.

My boarder and I were discussing this lack of customer service – what happened to “The customer is always right?” she asked. Gone the route of the dodo and music tapes I suppsed. We tried to figure out when customer service started sprialling downhill and couldn’t decide. The 1980s? The 1990s? Or once we hit the millennium where I believe a lot of things in this world started going very bad – worse than rotting food.

One thing I’ve discovered – you have to be on your toes, assertive, persistent, and sometimes use anger to get the service you deserve. And the people in Customer Service and Call Centres need to be trained and monitored better. It might also help if they were at least in the same country as the person calling for service.

Another “at least” but a good one. In the City of Toronto we have one number to call for any city service – 311 – and despite a few stupid people working there, for the most part, you can get things sorted out. It sure beats trying to figure what section of the city you live in – according to the city – to know which number to call and do that for every city service. If 311 doesn’t work, I can call my local councillor.

To quote and add on to my grade six teacher’s saying:

 “I’ll give credit where credit is due.” I add “and discredit where discredit is due.”

Like I said in last week’s post. I want to go back to the 1950s and 1960s. I don’t think my mom and dad had to deal with a lot of this crap. The 2000’s stink.

Thanks to those who commented last week. Any more comments re bad service or even good service?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford

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