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Friday, June 16, 2006

Customer Service 0.1

(Prehistoric version)
Well, if it wasn’t so frustrating I’d be laughing. I’ve just had a call centre operator recommend to me to go into a store tomorrow (on their busiest day, a Saturday no less), make a complaint and then they will call me back. It doesn’t take a Call Centre Technology Guru to hook up an automated callback system and free up a vital Saturday Salesman.

The reason for my call: basically the absolutely appalling TalkTalk Broadband service. The voice is great and completely reliable, the data element is terrible and this is before unbundling. Currently on my exchange (Moortown) TalkTalk is using the BT resale product for broadband, I know my line has been provisioned at 2Mbps (downstream only of course) During the day, the service is fine and quite often I get speeds approaching 1.8Mbps which gives me enough bandwidth to do anything I desire. However, during the evening (especially in the 8pm to 10pm window) the service drops off and quite often is so slow to render the Web unusable. In addition, my kids are making my life hell, calling me a cheapskate and yearning for a Wanadoo return. The technologist in me thinks that CPW have basically not bought enough backhaul capacity from BT for my exchange to cope with peak-hour traffic. What makes it worse is the service is getting worse day-by-day, presumably this is as TalkTalk add more broadband customers to a fixed backhaul. What makes it doubley worse is that my exchange is not due to be provisioned until 31st Aug (the same as every other exchange)

Recap on the complaints escalation procedure:
a) Email – reply comes back that the speed of line depends upon the distance from the exchange which whilst strictly speaking true is not exactly the solution I desire.
b) Telephone – 0800 line fault number – hold for 48 mins, a 6 min chat with an extremely pleasant operator who says I need the 0870 broadband whinge line and there are currently 60 people in the queue, performs a line test for me just because she wanted to be helpful, recommends nipping into the shop rather joining the queue. I ask her a few general questions anyway: no the queue length is not an indication of line faults but more an indication that people ring the 0800 number because it is free and the majority of calls are from people like me asking about broadband. I ask to be put into the broadband queue anyway, after all I’m watching the mighty Dutch play and its’ no big deal to me to spend forever listening to Thunderclap Newman. The phone rings and drops because of too many in the queue.
c) Telephone – 0870 rip-off number - although the kind operator above informed me it was free from TalkTalk lines – hold for a mere 23 minutes and speak to another lovely operator (although this time she sounded South African rather than Northern). Although extremely empathetic (an extremely good skill for an operator) ultimately she could do nothing and advised me to repeat step a) aka email. I said I’d already tried this and asked here to wait whilst I pulled up their answer, a couple of minutes later Gmail came back with the distance from the exchange malarkey and my point proven on speed. She agreed that I’d been provisioned at 2Mbps and said I was actually sharing the line with others, again although not helpful more relevant than the email. She then came up with a beauty and said all would be better when my line was fully unbundled. I said I was not prepared to wait until 31/8 as I feared for my sanity during a long hot summer at snail pace. Could I not complain to someone else and ask for more capacity to be added at the exchange on backhaul? She said she couldn’t do any more. I asked for the name of a manager to complain to, she said she didn’t have one to escalate the problem to, she then put me on hold and spoke to a supervisor and said the best thing is if I put my complaint in writing.

To cut a long story short, I’m in deep trouble for the rest of the summer evenings, along with I guess a lot of customers in my area. TalkTalk have very good call centre operators who are swamped with calls (witness the hold times) and really can’t do bugger all to help me. So I’ll follow the process and write a letter…