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Fancy a laugh? - Call centre amusement...

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Shady

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OK folks, here's the content of an E-mail I've just fired off to Thomas Cook. The subject title was "Your Unbelievably useless New Call Center":

Hello there:



The above title says it all, really.



I have now spent 2 hours, over 2 consecutive days, trying to pay the balance on a Neilson skiing holiday, by phoning the number given at the foot of a letter from your company, detailing the required balance (specifically, ‘phone number 01733 412880).



The first time, I spoke with a young lady who appeared to be a) deaf, and b) not an English speaker. After an amusing hour or so of bellowing down the line, she finally seemed to have grasped what I wanted to do, took my credit card number, and my blood pressure began to subside. At this point, she worriedly said that the card ‘was not being accepted by the system’. Finally, after repeating all my details another 5 times, she rang off, promising to ‘get back to me within the hour’. She did not.



Without any exaggeration, the conversation included lines such as “YES,YES, I LIVE AT 9, NURSERY VIEW” response – “Ah, OK - theees is 9 Nursery Hill, yes?” (agonized) “No, No, NURSERY VIEW!!” “Ah, OK, 6 Hill View…” and so on… You can imagine how confident I was that she had accurately noted my 16 digit card number…



After calming down, ‘phoning my bank and confirming that my credit card was good for the required amount, it was now too late to speak to the ‘deaf non-English’ speaking call centre again, so I waited until today.





This time I got a young man who refused to believe that the booking reference number was ‘real’. Despite my assurances that I was not ringing Thomas Cook to give you money out of some benevolent charitable impulse, but was actually quoting the number (D066801V) from your own letter in order to pay a bill, he would not budge. After a happy discussion, he rang off, promising to ‘get back within the hour’. Ten minutes later, he left an answer phone message telling me that he could not help, as the number ‘did not exist’…



In frustrated rage, I ‘phoned a Neilson number from their website, got through to a charming young lady somewhere in England, and had the bill paid in 5 minutes…



Joking apart, I am entirely happy to have my holiday costs kept as low as possible through outsourcing services to the most cost effective provider. However, you may wish to question whether you are getting value for money for whatever you are paying the contractor in Bombay, or possibly Bangalore… Whatever the service level agreement you have says about English speaking operators, it is not being properly honoured. Similarly, at least some of the ‘operatives’ need lessons in basic customer courtesy and responses.



I realize that this is probably ‘nothing to do with you’ in the first instance – yours was simply the most suitable address I could find on the Thomas Cook website. I would, however, be very grateful if you could a) acknowledge receipt, and b) forward it to someone who is responsible for this abortive shambles, and who might like to respond constructively… If anyone does think I exaggerate, I am quite happy to ‘phone the call center again with a tape recorder running: it would make amusing listening – or perhaps your own management might like to try this?
Hope it made you giggle - I nearly had a heart attack trying to get through it... :roll: I'll update you on any response I get, if you like.
 

Chris Knight

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Shady,

Got the tee shirt - as most of us have I guess. Trouble with carefully crafted letters that stay within the bounds of what you may legally send through the post is that they get read by the same sort of folk as they staff the call centres with.

Best approach I have found is to use the web to seek out the company chairman's name and then send the letter by registered post. Once in a blue moon or once in a Preston Guild as my Lancashire Mum used to say, you actually get a reply signed by the man himself. You nearly always gets a useful reply from his PA or a senior manager. Just occasionally they toss in a goody to relieve your feelings.
 

mudman

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This is one of the most exasperating things that I know of.
Personally I am appaled by the selling out of the British Workforce and will try to avoid dealing with a company that has outsourced in this way. Thomas Cook just got added to my list.

Another option for getting your complaint through to the top man is to find the company's chairman's name as Chris says but then to fire off an e-mail to all the combinations of his name that you can think of.
e.g.
One of these will get through to the man and you can guarantee that he will be interested in bad service.
 

Alf

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waterhead37":152dt3i4 said:
Best approach I have found is to use the web to seek out the company chairman's name and then send the letter by registered post.
Yep, that's my dad's modus operandi too, and he has reasonably good results. Not had to resort to registered post yet afaik. Real letters in envelopes seem to beat an email hands down, and telephone calls are a non-starter (even before the Mumbai effect). Headed notepaper also bears fruit, as well as lots of times, dates and general "I'm doing you a favour here, giving you a chance to fix this cock-up" tone. Jokes, alas, are totally wasted, as is advice on how to avoid the same problem again. Also try to avoid going over a page in length; they'll never read that far. And before you ask, yep, I've taken a leaf out of the old man's book and had a few away wins from my letters, in amongst the no-score draws... :roll:

Good luck with it, Shady. Do indeed tell us how you get on.

Cheers, Alf
 

mudman

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You know, I think that we should all take a leaf out of Shady's book and fire off a letter every time this happens. It is happening so often now that it is getting beyond a joke. Mistakes are being made and I get very annoyed when it takes 30 minutes to do an address change.

Last time I had painstakingly gone through each line of my address, which isn't easy when you have a Welsh address. Finally get to Gwent, 'How do you spell that? Q...?' He says.

How many UK counties are there that begin with a Q? :evil:
 

Shady

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Oh, I agree - this is just 'phase one'. I always like to be courteous and light hearted at first.... Last Year's summer holiday was actually free, as a different company (Eurocamp) sent us to a holiday camp that had just been devastated by a hurricane, despite my asking them to confirm that it hadn't been. They actually responded very fairly and reasonably, with a substantial wodge of cash, and restored my faith in their operation - after all, anyone can make a mistake - once....

And yup, when the ante rises, mine are on headed notepaper - I also add a section at the bottom with something like 'copies to: sue grabbit & run, family solicitors, insurance ombudsman', etc etc as appropriate - that always wakes them up.
 

Alf

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Shady":29vt2rbo said:
I also add a section at the bottom with something like 'copies to: sue grabbit & run, family solicitors, insurance ombudsman', etc etc as appropriate - that always wakes them up.
Nice. :lol: :lol:
 

Adam

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Alf":1dzwwe0m said:
Jokes, alas, are totally wasted,
When we moved in to our current house, we were plagued by "debt recovery" firms, due to the previous owner (as I subsequently found) apparently intermittently lifting the floorboards and "storing" her unopened letters from the bank there... anyway... I found I'd write on the envelope "not known at this address"...."Moved away"..... then it moved up to ringing them....still the letters came, often, with the inprint of the "not known at this address" on the letter but in a fresh envelope.

Whatever I tried wouldn't stop them. In the end the technique I developed was to find the town from which the letter was sent. For example lets choose Newcastle. I would then absolutely mercilessly take the p*ss out of the firm, the operatives working for them, the town the live in, etc etc.

Along the lines of:

I've written 15 times already to tell you Mrs X no longer lives at this address. I'm surprised in a population of 2,523,000 million, you have failed to employ people with the intelligence to understand my letters but then it's my firm belief that everyone in <insert town> has only the IQ of a monkey.

I'll re-write this so you can understand it, I'll try a few different ways as you are all clearly devoid of brain cells that if you collect everyone together, you may, just get the meaning of this letter.

A) She doesn't live here any more...
B) The previous owner has moved away.....
C) The person you are looking for does not live in this house....

And I'd go on.... and on.... and on......

Telling them their town were below average IQ, how I think all people in <insert town> are inbred and this explains their inability to deal with simple tasks, that they should ask their former teacher if they don't understand this letter, or a policeman, etc etc

Within a few weeks the letters dried up completely.

:roll:

Adam
 

Shady

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Hee hee - I like it Adam - you were lucky 'da boys' didn't pay you a visit with their baseball bats.... I have to say, I think careful use of humour can pay off -it may at least get someone reading it to smile, and suddenly realise they're dealing with a fellow human being.

In the Eurocamp example, I wrote a long but courteous letter, explaining that while it didn't bother me, my wife was 'somewhat alarmed' at the interesting new French swearwords our sons were learning from all the workmen demolishing the wreckage of the old site... Seemed to work for me. Of course, I did also mention that if they wished to discuss the matter further, I had a large quantity of still and video footage that I was happy to copy them.

The subtext, of course, was that I was also happy to copy it to the Sun, Watchdog, and every holiday website I could find, should they be unreasonable. Note my point about tape recording above... Same concept. Nothing like the implicit threat of publicising bad PR to at least get them sitting up. The internet and digital comms/media has opened up a whole new avenue of attack that can reach a serious audience.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty laid back as a rule, and not some sort of serial freeloader. I take a reasonable view, and accept that mistakes can happen for us all. However, I do expect to have a similarly 'balanced' response if I have a genuine complaint. Nothing gets me more annoyed than an attempt to dismiss me with a brush off, as though I'm some sort of muppet.

On which subject - I would recommend Natwest car insurance to no-one. We had a van of some sort dent the near side rear door of our volvo V70 in a car park about 4 months ago. He drove off without leaving any details, so I had to use the insurance. As part of the damage, the electric window dropped, and shorted something: this ran the battery flat. Natwest and their nominated repair centre took 2 months to fit me in, palmed us off (for a family of 5 - why do they think we own a blasted volvo estate????) with a Ford Ka as the courtesy vehicle, and failed to replace the battery. Now I'm no vehicle engineer, but even I know that a car battery never recovers from being completely discharged. I told 3 people that the battery was flat as a result of the shunt, and that we were having to jump start the car. "Oh yes sir - that's nothing to do with the accident". Presumably it just decided to suddenly die at that point??

So with fully comprehensive insurance, I had to buy a new battery, and pay my excess, and accept a hike in next year's premium.

So there you go NatWest - for the sake of £45 worth of battery, I'm going to bad mouth your insurance offering at every opportunity I get, and change my insurers in the near future. That's what annoys me most - it's just so stupidly short sighted of these fools - my single annual premium is worth about 8 times that to them - and now they've lost it forever. (edit - and the real joy was that a 'customer satisfaction team' rang me a few days ago to ask me to rate various aspects of the claim as part of their 'ongoing customer relations'. Har Har Har -'on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate etc etc etc.' At the end of half an hour of polite but firm 'one' answers, the poor girl asked me if a member of the management could contact me... Still not heard anything yet, but I'm gonna enjoy it...)
 

Gill

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Frank, you shouldn't have posted that story here.

It doesn't matter that you're in the off-topic section and your contribution relates directly to the thread - you still shouldn't have posted it here.

Gill (who's hoping that a stray NTL executive might be browsing this forum and think, 'There's someone with a perverse sense of humour. She'll fit in well here. Let's offer her a lucrative appointment'.)

:)
 

Noel

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Frank, why'd you wipe the post?

Noel
 

frank

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sorry guys i read the first line of gills reply and thought oops its posted in the wrong place , :oops: :oops: :oops: .
 

Gill

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For those of you who didn't get the chance to read it, Frank's post was all about NTL's bizarre behaviour, and it was quite amusing. My response to it was an attempt at humour which seems to have backfired :roll:.

Come on, Frank, tell us all the story again... ;)

Gill
 

Aragorn

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Ooo yes, tell it again Frank! Hate to feel I've missed out on a good NTL story!
 

Noel

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Yes Frank , get the bill out and start dialing. And Gill, no more threatening words to poor wee Frank.......

Noel
 

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