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I feel as though I’ve been with BT Cellnet since our good Scottish friend, Sandy Graham Bell, cranked his handle, spoke to his mother in the next room , and said “Fit like, Ma? Can ye hear me? I’ve invented a telly-phone!”
Old Ma Bell didn’t actually answer, because she was deaf as a post.
And BT Cellnet have valiantly kept up this tradition – of being deaf as a post.
I don’t do basic facts, as you know.
I do tales.
But usually, unless I’ve overdone the Glen Ord, the tales have a point.
So here is the tale.
I have four phones on one account with BT Cellnet. These are (mostly) for business use. My own, and three in works vehicles. And believe me, they are worth their weight in gold when some decrepit old Transit breaks down miles from nowhere. Or when my foreman needs advice to deal with a stroppy client.
Sorry, delete that last sentence. There is no such thing as a stroppy client. Customers are always right.
Unless, of course, they are BT Cellnet customers.
In November last year, financial constraints led to “downsizing”. Smarmy jargony cr*p meaning simply that work was less abundant, seasonal staff were paid off, and one less vehicle was required.
So one less phone was required.
I phoned the 0800 number, cancelled one phone, giving the required thirty days notice as per the T&C. The anonymous person at the other end tried to persuade me to retain it, in case things changed. Said anonymous person got a flea in his ear.
Time passed. Aspen was busy. Cellnet are paid by standing order, so, neglectful as I am, I don’t check these things regularly.
It is now February. The cancelled phone is still being charged.
A slightly peeved Aspen phones the 0800 number again and complains. Or rather, starts the story from the beginning, because the new anonymous person can find no details of the cancellation. But rest assured, Mr Aspen, your account will be credited from November, and this number will be cancelled immediately.
Time passed. Aspen was busy again. The bills went unchecked.
Phone still being charged. No credit.
Aspen phones the 0800 number again. Aspen has a long fuse. Aspen politely told the tale to anonymous person number three, from the beginning again. Anonymous person number three had no record of any previous conversation on this subject, but rest assured, the phone would be cancelled, and credited from December. (December? It was November last time, but I let that fly stick to the wall.)
But now Aspen is becoming slightly more alert, and despite still being busy, checks the May account.
I don’t need to tell you what I found, do I?
Now, I cut my teeth in an industry where, not only was external correspondence only ever carried out in writing, but even internal memos were written in triplicate. One copy to the recipient, one to the sender, and one to central file. We used to think it was a long-winded, and hugely unnecessary paper-chase. But, by God, it worked wonders sometimes.
So in June, the long Aspen fuse burned out, and a strongly worded letter was sent to Cellnet Customer Services. And it was a long one. Detailing every move. And pointing out that NEVER again would I communicate via the 0800 helpline, but only by letter, with copies kept. And that I would accept no response by telephone, only by letter.
Less than a week later, I had a gushing (written) reply, stating that all my comments regarding the helpline responses were noted, and would be passed to the relevant supervisors.
BUT, I also received full credit for the cancelled phone, backdated to November – AND an “inconvenience payment” in the form of a cheque. OK, it was only £17 , but hell, every little helps.
And the moral of the story?
Cellnet is not alone, in encouraging customers to communicate only by telephone. It is the greatest con on earth. Have you ever tried getting one of these anonymous people to give you their name? So that when you phone back a month later, when nothing has been done, you can hold them personally responsible? Not a cat in hell’s chance.
These people are trained to be anonymous. Phonecalls are destined to be ignored.
The lesson I have learned from this is simply the same lesson I learned all those years ago.
If you have a problem, don’t phone the helpline. Seek out a Customer Service address, write to it, and point out that you are retaining copies of the correspondence.
The written word is strong, and can be used in evidence.
Use that to your advantage.
Ironically, in my personal situation, I reckon my current deal with Cellnet as about as good as I can get.
But even so, I cannot recommend them.
Because their customer service is too poor to be believed.
(I can't believe I've written this - I don't do phones!!)
I don't know if this is truly so, but I always found BTCellnet to be bloody over priced!! Nice op though, ta.
castlebinn 04.11.2001 23:12
Sounds like the BT I remember. I'm with ntl and they're on a par with BT for customer service.
Amadahn 01.11.2001 21:43
Whenever I find myself in a similar situation to yours, I always demand the full name of the person to whom I speak. I don't think many people do this, because they tend to get very flustered when their anonymity is breached. I also feel that they're more likely to deal with my query if I know their name ( I suppose it's a telecom version of the 'We know where you live' threat). Anyway - good op as always. PS: I'm waiting with some impatience for your reaction to the recent changes to Ciao. Hope you won't disappoint :-) Ama.