Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blind loops

Okay folks, this is just an extended complaint about the so-called customer service, and I am writing merely for therapeutic reasons, coz otherwise I'll probably go out on the street and bite some innocent pedestrians.

Yesterday I tried to get an internet connection into my new apartment. Since I already have two cellphones, and make most of my calls via skype anyhow, I don't really need another phone line in the apartment. It wasn't difficult to find out that Rogers is apparently the Canadian company who does that stuff. So I went into the next store I could find.

There, I was told a long list of special offers and rate plans for internet over cable, but the guy knew about no technical details except those which end in dollar signs, and they also don't sell wireless routers. But okay, I could just drop into the next Walmart and get one. After the guy began to repeat his list of offers for the third time, I was getting tired and said fine, I'll take that plan, where do I sign. First problem was that last week I had to treat in my pretty California driver's licence for a temporary Ontario one, which doesn't have a photo, and therefore isn't a photo ID. But I convinced them to accept my International Student ID, which I am actually not sure why I have a valid one, since I haven't been a student for 5 years or so.

What then happened was that some 15 year old employee, an original with dental braces, named Tericita of Tiffany or something tried to enter my data in an online form. Which didn't work, and which I could have done by myself in my office btw. She tried that repeatedly, but it still didn't work. Then she called the customer-service hotline, where a tape was apologizing that all representatives are busy, but would you please hold. Tifanny-or-Tericita turned on the speaker, and began surfing the web while I was listening to the tape telling her to hold and hold and hold. After 1/2 hour or so, I asked her how long she thought that would take, but just got a shoulder shrug. After 1 hour, the representative was actually available on the phone but said essentially that his system had crashed down and he couldn't do anything about nothing.

So, after one hour looking at Tiffany browsing the web, I was asked to come back tomorrow.

I went to get some coffee and asked the next person in line which internet service he uses. Bell, he said. So, I went into the next Bell store and asked them to please, please set up internet service in my apartment.

Since I was pretty pissed off, I told the guy who had a funny beard my experience with the Roger's people. This complete incompetence of employees is something that upsets me frequently. I mean, the only thing they do is look up their own website and call customer service. That I can do on my own. Why don't they just put a computer there and a courtesy phone? You know what? That's exactly what you find in the Bell's store. A courtesy phone to call customer-service. But the guy with the funny beard was all sympathetic, and, yes Rogers sucks, good you came to see us.

Funny beard was actually quite nice, but told me they don't do cable stuff, just internet via phone, which is actually much better because blahblahblah. After some back and forth he told me it would be possible to set up what he called a 'blind loop', a phone line from which I couldn't call but get an high-speed internet. Bell actually does wireless networking with their own modems and has a provider called Bell Sympatico.

Again the guy with the funny beard couldn't answer any of my questions regarding security of the wireless or even basic things like the range of the sender. But after he found my Dr. on the credit card, he told me he'd grown the beard because he has this funny rash which wouldn't go away, and if I could give him some advice. I said I couldn't and asked him what internet service he uses at home. Rogers, he said.

Since I was already tired, I just said finefinefine, and could we please set that up now, I need a drink. Then we played the same game again. Funny beard tried to enter data into a form. Which didn't work. Then he went to the courtesy phone and called customer service. And here's the new part of the story: gave me the receiver to talk to the customer service representative. After 1/2 hour I found out that they don't have any wireless offers they can make me on the phone, and I should speak to the store guy, or call another number. The other number turned out to be a tape saying 'this service it not available', even after verifying that the number was correct. Funny beard shrugged his shoulders. I left without having any internet.

This morning I called the Bell's hotline again where they were at least able to tell me that in my apartment there's no high speed internet available anyhow, only dial up.

Then I found a flyer in the drawer of my kitchen with a business card of the local cable guy. I called him, said I need a wireless in my apartment, if possible yesterday. He said yes, no problem, he'll send someone over in the next days.

So, I have actually hope that I will be online again sometime in this century...


  1. Dear Bee,

    when reading your story, it sounds quite funny - but I guess that's only because of the way you write about it ;-)..

    Good luck with the cable...


  2. Canadians are picking up all the bad habits from the US and garnish them with shoulder shrugs. Next thing you know they will serve BigMacs with maple sirup and shoulder shrugs. C'est la vie.

    -- Jose

  3. Bless your heart! And these people think they are worth even minimum wages? I'm sorry you've had so much trouble.

    "But after he found my Dr. on the credit card, he told me he'd grown the beard because he has this funny rash which wouldn't go away, and if I could give him some advice. I said I couldn't and asked him what internet service he uses at home. Rogers, he said."

    That really cracked me up! At least you can tell such stories with a good sense of humor. I hope the cable people get you hooked up soon!

  4. "They hire people off-the-street" is my favorite synopsis. Cheap labor & poorly trained. In 1 word, U-N-P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L.

    Customer service is the key.

    You need to get a "referral" from colleagues at work. Sampling the "distribution curve" is bound to get frustrating.

    I've had similar experiences with cellphone vendors (Sprint & Verizon), Radio Shack. Like you, I was promised something (in my case, a repair in 2 hrs..DIDN'T HAPPEN.) My time is valuable, I did not appreciate being misled.

    The same issue cropped up in another scenario, see here for a summary of feedback on "customer service". Unfortunately, poorly run businesses are rampant.

    good quotes summarized below:

    "I do believe that buyers of some of the pricy xxxx currently on the market have a right to expect a little better treatment and professionalism on the part of both the manufactures and the resellers."

    "Is it surprising? Well, not really. Small
    businesses run by hook or by crook are all over
    the place. Small businesses run like really tight
    ships with expertise in their field AND great
    information quality and management at every level?
    amazingly rare."

    "unhappy people usually vote with their feet. Like "See Ya!""

    "They are using negative advertising to
    effectively make you a non-customer for life."

    "It is in your best interest to heed what the customers have been saying."

    "7) Do not EVER promise more than you can deliver. Your word should be
    gold, cashable at any trust bank on any planet in the universe. You lie, mis-inform, insult, berate, belittle your customers (including potential
    tire kickers) then be prepared to:

    a)have business sales/volume suffer

    b)develop a poor reputation amongst your peers and the community

    c)have negative, sometimes incorrect/inaccurate
    comments/information spread about you and your operation like wildfire

    d)your business eventually dies a slow horrible death

    e)all of the above

    8) Above ALL else, LISTEN to your customer ESPECIALLY when they complain."

    "If you're frustrated, can you do anything? Sure,
    you can become a non-customer, which often feels
    pretty unsatisfying, but is still important to do
    if you feel strongly. And you can communicate your
    experience. This is probably best done by cooling
    way way down first and then simply saying what
    happened and what you wish you had known, or what
    you wish you had done, including, if appropriate,
    wishing you hadn't done any business with them,
    and what you wish they had done, in case (and
    don't hold your breath here) they're actually
    listening. A more extreme excoriating letter of
    condemnation ends up sounding fanatical, and
    probably doesn't have as much of the intended
    consequence as it FEELS like it has. Unless
    vitriolic composition is really helping you
    personally heal from your experience, then it's
    probably just wasted energy, and you can always
    write the really flaming letter and not send it to
    anyone if you really need the experience."

    I had a problem with some equipment and sent an e-mail to the retailer, Amateur Electronic Supply. They responded immediately. When I called
    to make final arrangements I complemented them on their fast response. I will always remember what they said and will continue to do business
    with them. The response was "All we have to offer you is service". That's all I ask for.


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