Tonight I was driven to rant on Facebook, Twitter and email about the generally appalling levels of customer service offered by large companies these days. From utility providers to retail outlets, I have rarely experienced anything good in recent years.
Regular readers will know that I have had ongoing issues with First Utility for months and months. They have overcharged me on my gas due to an incorrect reading in April 2013. This lead them to attempt to charge me £1500, which I disputed. I knew I hadn’t suddenly increased my energy usage by that much. Despite numerous phone calls and emails, I couldn’t get an explanation of why they thought I owed that much, or accurate readings on my on-line account to give me the chance to work it out for myself. They tried to insist that I increase my monthly gas and electricity bill from £115 per month to £435!! As if!! I lost some sleep over this, I can tell you, and finally contacted the Energy Ombudsman last May. They ruled in my favour, and told First Utility they had to provide me with accurate accounts, waiver all my gas bills for 6 months and give me a small financial recompense for the stress and aggravation. That was at the end of June. They had 28 days to provide a resolution. To date, they have done nothing except at the beginning of August, after me chasing them and the Ombudsman again, send me a letter acknowledging that they were dealing with my complaint but saying that they had so many to deal with it might be a while! What a thing to casually admit to a customer!!
Ten days ago, my Talk Talk on demand TV service stopped working. I rang them, they rang me back on my mobile and we went through some tests. After half an hour the phone cut out. ‘That’s OK’, I thought. ‘They have my number, they will call me back so that we can continue’. They didn’t . I wasn’t about to call them and start the whole process again, so I wrote a stinking email. To their credit, they responded within a couple of days, decided an engineer was needed, but then said the earliest possible was 9th September!!
Then this evening, to cap it all, my daughter’s quite expensive new bed arrived from Argos. She was very excited, as hers broke and she has been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for a month. When we tried to assemble it, however, we discovered that half the fittings were missing. It was impossible to secure the two pieces together. She rang them and asked them to get the appropriate bits out asap, and they said they had no spares and wouldn’t be able to send any for three weeks, but we could buy them ourselves if we wanted!! Well, you can imagine our rage and indignation…. DD1 is a bit of a firecracker, and insisted on speaking to a manager. He said he could get the bits in a week, and would give us a £50 refund. She wasn’t really happy, so tweeted a complaint, and lo – their customer services department had messaged her within the hour asking her to send them her order number. So let’s hope we have a better outcome. Bits of her bed are currently clogging up the lounge and the hallway!
It made me think about the power of Twitter, anyway, and I have tweeted First Utility. this is where some of you might be able to help. If you do Twitter, maybe you can follow me (@shoestringjane) and retweet what I sent. I am hoping that, useless as they are, First Utility might also have a customer services section that watches Twitter and acts accordingly to avert bad publicity.
I also Googled to find out who the CEO of First Utility is and his email address. I have sent him a long email berating him for the way his company are treating me and I have copied my MP in.
I am fed up with these companies. They are too big and don’t want to spend enough money making sure they offer decent customer services. Once they get you in with the big offer, they don’t want to know.
How about you? Any customer service horror stories? Or do you have any examples of marvellously helpful service you have received to prove me wrong?