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":
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.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?