Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is it me? Or is BT now stark staring bonkers?

The following phone call has just ensued between me and a BT operative. Honestly. Not one word of a lie.

"Could I interest you in a new deal that will save you £3 a quarter on your BT line rental?"

"Erm.. maybe, if you're quick. What does it involve?"

"Well, you were paying us by direct debit, but then you stopped. If you go back to paying by direct debit I can arrange the deduction."

"Yeah well I did plan to go back to paying by direct debit after I got my next bill."

"I can send you that bill now. You have £55 outstanding. If you pay that by direct debit within 14 days we can negotiate the discount."

"£55 outstanding? How can that be? I cancelled the direct debit because I was in credit to you. You sent a cheque for the credit you owed me and now we're square."

"Ah yes, you're still £55 in credit to us. So if you send us the £55 within 14 days we can negotiate the discount.."

"Wait a minute. I owe you £55, and you owe me £55?"

"Yes thats right."

"So actually neither of us owes each other anything?"

"Well your credit amount and your debit amount are two different things."

"Yes but they do cancel each other out."

"But we can't just do that so easily. If you send us £55 within the 14 days.."

"Why would I send you £55, when you owe me £55?"

"Well I can arrange to first release the £55 credit balance to you if necessary. It will reach your bank account within the next 5 says. You will then be able to pay the £55 outstanding on your bill within 14 days and we can..."

"This is silly, isn't it?"

"Er.. pardon?"

"It doesn't make sense and no matter how much commission you're on to negotiate this deal, it isn't going to make sense. You send me £55 so I can send you £55 back? It's just silly!" I was audibly laughing by this point.

"If I can just explain.."

"No thanks, just send me my normal quarterly bill when it's due. I'll make my own arrangements to pay then."


I put the phone down. I would have listened to more, but I was worried it might be contagious.


Blogger Tim said...

I am still seething at o2.

I wanted to be an o2 customer, I bought a phone and then (within the grace period) decided I wanted to add a data tariff....

o2 "No, you can't have the data tariff you saw on our website, it isn't available to customers who buy through our shops."

Me "The one you are now offering is rubbish. How do I get the good one."

o2 "You will have to cancel the contract you have now, send back the handset and go into one of our shops"

Me "OK, not certain I really want the data at the moment, I will think about what I need. But I made a mistake when I signed up. I wanted a 12 month contract and clicked the 18 month contract button by mistake. Can I change it please."

o2 "You will have to cancel the contract you have now, send back the handset and..."

Bearing in mind that I had already ported my number across and it would also have to be ported to the new handset (exactly the same model as the one they wanted me to send back) I got so fed up that in the end, I sent it back and signed up with T-Mobile instead.

I feel sorry for the people working in these call centres, they are often dealing with really badly set up systems, which don't let them do what you ask them to do and are not allowed to admit that what the are telling a customer is stupid, that they are doing the best they can and the blame lies with the idiot call centre manager, the idiot project manager and the idiot IT manager who designed and built the whole thing and who each earn three or four times what the poor operator earns taking all the flak from customers who think it is his/her fault.

11:51 am, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yup, that's equally bonkers if not more so.

Thank goodness for blogging, is all I can say. Everytime something like this happens I just feel the need to type it out and publish it otherwise it might start really getting to me.

And who knows who might come across it? Someone who might actually read it and think: "Oh yeah, that's mad.. and that was my call centre.."

OR is it all deliberate? *Pulls conspiracy theorist's hat on* You gotta wonder. ^^

12:03 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger merry said...

I had the exact same conversation with ntl. 6 months on and i'm still having it. This week i started having it with Direct Line too.... *rolls eyes*

12:07 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

OK, that proves it then. It's deliberate! They're trying to drive us all mad.

12:17 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I don't believe any of these conspiracy theories.

I am working on a Univeral Stupidity Theory.

2:01 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Sue said...

thanks for the laugh!! I thought it was only in Cyprus things like this happened. Nice to know it's in the UK too :-)

2:54 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger merry said...

What do you mean nice to know it happens here too! You get SUUN... we get rain and wind... at the very least we ought to get argument free commodity calls! ;)

6:11 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Qalballah said...

You're just lucky you can understand what they're saying. The last time BT rang me the line was crackly and I couldn't understand a word that was being said. Then the 'conversation' was ended with 'cheery bye madam'. Eh???

6:13 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I feel for the call centre people too. A family member does such a job and every word said is recorded. In fact, even casual chat with the person sitting next to you is listened to, because of the headsets that they use.

7:09 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Tim, you spoilsport! Conspiracy theories are much more interesting!

Sue, LOL, yup the madness reigns here too. There is noo escaape!

Merry, yeah! Good point!

Qalballah, maybe that's all part of the grand plan, to make us feel stupid and inept, as if we didn't quite understand something really important.. or something.. ;-)

Allie, that's atrocious! We should be having Call Centre Workers' Rights campaigns, never mind HE freedoms! I wasn't angry with the operative today - I wasn't even angry, I did see the funny side, but it's obviously the system that's iffy, not the poor people who have to try to deliver it. I hope someone did tape that call and does play it back several times, because what they're asking their staff to persuade people to do makes no sense whatsoever!

I still don't fully understand their reasoning. I've stopped paying by Direct Debit and they want me back on it ASAP obviously.. I don't really understand where the £55 comes in. Maybe they were trying to get me to agree to pay £55 a month direct debit, which is way more than we use, so that they get the interest from the overpayment, or something.. Dunno. Clueless.

Whatever it was though, there must have been quite a bit in it for them because she was almost deperate to get me to agree to it.

8:04 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Desperate. With a s. Can't be bothered to repost the whole comment for that but just HAD to correct it.

8:06 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Em said...

I forwarded it to my dad who works for BT (but nothing to do with billing or phones he does computery stuff) and he thought it was appalling and said as soon as he gets a chance he'll find the right person to send that to. Because it's rediculous.

11:34 pm, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Wow, result! Thanks Em :-)

7:41 am, January 12, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Ah yes, brilliant it might be, but that little bit about finding the *right person* could take years! Have you ever tried phoning these people and actually getting to speak to the *right person*? it's an impossible dream in this day and age LOL

1:44 pm, January 12, 2007  
Blogger merry said...

I've been selling stuff on Amazon; the premise is that you can download your money as often as you like into your account from them. Which i did a few times and then suddenly it stopped working; it appeared to work but didn't and os the next day theAmazon balance would have increased by the unloaded amount, plus whatever new i'd sold. When they had £530 of my money i rang up customer services who informed me my account was now on "watchlist" but no she couldn't explain what that meant as it was dealt with by another department, who oddly enough had no phone number and i'dhave to email them.

Which i did - after about 8 hours i got a replay thanking me for my contact and informing me that my "money is no longer being reserved for me by Amazon ad i may download it at my convenience."

Reserved for me? They made it sound like they'd done me a favour! And they didn't deign to explain what they'd reserved it for me for either.


3:26 pm, January 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Tech, good point! Hopefully Em's dad knows the secret handshake, or whatever's required to get to the people who decide these things ;-)

Merry, grrrr @ them on your behalf! It's a bugbear of mine when people in the business of taking my money don't answer questions I ask. I was in Asda the other day, trying to spend about a tenth of the amount you're talking about, on a digicam, but there was a sign on the enquiry desk saying 'This desk is closed.' There then ensued the following insane exchange between me and the assistant:

"What do you want?"
"Are you closed?"
"What you after?"
"This sign says you're closed. Are you closed?"
"What you want?"
"I want to know if the desk is closed or open please."
"What can I get you?"
"An answer? To my question? Cos the sign says you're closed.."
"What do you want?"
*Sigh* "A camera, one of these.." I gave her the pointless CD case thing you pick up because they're frightened of having their cameras stolen.
"Haven't got one," she said without looking. I knew they must have one because they only, surely, put the same number of CD cases out on display as they have cameras in the cupboard.
"You might as well be closed then, might you? I'd have saved myself 5 minutes of wasted time if you were."

I went to Curry's and they had the cameras there for the picking up, in a basket. No assistants available to ask anything of, but that was a blessing really, given the mood the Asda one had put me in. Also, there's no way of working out where the pay desk is in there, you just have to wander round in bewilderment until you find it.

I must be getting old. ^^

4:18 pm, January 12, 2007  
Blogger Julie said...

I had almost the same conversation with BT too!
We had swopped to using '18185' for the actual calls-where we pay 4p to connect and then can talk for as long as we like it has cut pounds and pounds from my telephone bill. Now I only pay BT for the line rental. They then tried to tell me how much I owed them, when in fact they had a agreed I was in credit. Madness! It took ages to get sorted.

8:09 pm, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Gah I hope we don't get the same here Julie. I got the general impression nothing needed sorting really with our account, but you never know!

8:51 pm, January 15, 2007  
Blogger David said...

Ooh, stoopid phonecalls. When a bank (or utility company) phone you to discuss some matter or other, ask to speak to you, then ask you to confirm personal/security details.

I: Hello.

They: Hello. Can I speak to Mr David Blank, please?

I: Speaking.

They: Good morning Mr Blank, this is John from Halifax.

I: John who?

They: From Halifax Building Socitety.

I: No, I meant your surname. (Lightly) Or is there only one John working for the Halifax?

They: (Laughing in an effort to not sound pissed off) Sorry. It's John Wilson.

I: Right. (World goes odd as telephone conversation positions are reversed) How can I help you?

They: We just have some queries about your account.

I: Oh, right. What's the matter?

They: Nothing major, though I'll get to that in a minute. First I just need you to confirm some details.

I: Why?

They: For security purposes.

I: called me.

They: That's true, but we still need some proof of who we're speaking to.

I: Why? You asked to speak to me, I answered in the affirmative. Or is there a chance I'm a particularly eccentric burglar? Or have you had problems with customer's relatives commiting opportunistic acts of fraud?

They: (Clearly taken aback) I understand it can seem a little strange, but those are our rules. They're really there to protect you.

I: They didn't stop you from revealing I have an account with Halifax that you had a few queries about. How about you tell me some more of my details and I'll meet you half way. Or even some of your personal details. If you can't do that you can just put it in writing, assuming I won't have to confirm my details before I open the letter. (Hangs up)

Obviously embellished, to make myself sound quicker with the wit.

2:00 pm, January 16, 2007  

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