Here is a real-life story that just happened to me the very day I am writing this. I will refrain from naming names, but not because of a desire to protect any “innocent” parties. The story is between me and the many dealings with my cable/phone/internet provider about the recent issue caused during a terrible storm that blew through on a Tuesday. During the storm, somehow a surge was sent through the coaxial line of my house, totally frying my computer, modem, router, telephone system, and two televisions.
My initial call to the company on Tuesday night to explain that my service was out (which is all I suspected at first look when I got home). This call was handled by the typical tier one technical support person asking the same ignorant basic questions, and so is somewhat excusable. However, once the problem was identified, you would think things would have gotten kicked up a notch and proceeded more smoothly. I explained that my house was now without any phone, cable or internet service, so they put in a case to have someone come out. However, the earliest they could send someone was two days later, on Thursday. I fussed a bit on how that would leave me dead in the water for two days, but it seemed nothing could be done.
I ended up calling back about an hour later once I did some more assessing of the situation and found that not only was the service down, but my actual electronics were dead (at first I thought it was just the service, not the systems). I explained that the only pieces of equipment in my house that were dead, were ones that had been directly connected to the coaxial system, meaning this did not come about from just a normal electronic surge. I again mentioned that it was not cool to leave me down with no phone for two days, and when she pulled up the account to see about the possibility of expediting things, the account had been set up to send someone out simply because I have “no picture” service. Nothing from the long initial previous call about all of my services being gone was even documented. Per the case, I simply was getting no picture on my television. Sad but true.
So, the telephone department changed the appointment reason, and attempted to put a rush on getting someone out, but again, could only offer an appointment on Thursday. So, we jump to Thursday and the repair man shows up, stating he understands I am having some problems with the service. I explained the whole situation again about all of the dead equipment, etc. and he was surprised to hear it, he only thought my service was out. Really?!? Where is the communication? Wait, it gets worse.
He goes out to the connector box in the neighbor’s front yard, which services my house too, and initially he finds it locked and is unable to open it. Of course it should be locked, right? How is it that he, the company representative, is unable to have the proper tool to open it? So he comes and tells me he is unable to access the box, and will need to have a maintenance person come out and open it for him, but it will be another day before that can happen. Here I am, taking time off from work, waiting for him to do this, and he is there five minutes and tells me he can do nothing. I told him that was unacceptable, and offered him a hammer and saw to get the box off. He said he would call and see when they could come, and they ended up telling him how to finagle it open.
Now, it is opened, he has diagnosed it, and it is the actual cable that connects my house to the box in the neighbor’s yard; it seems to be fried and needs replaced. So, they’ll need to send a crew out to dig up a line from the box to my house and bury a new line. When can this be done, I ask? He is not sure, but it will for sure be a few days. Considering today was Thursday, you can guarantee they wouldn’t be doing it on the weekend. I call the company after he leaves, and tell them this needs resolved as soon as possible, because of not having any service, especially when I have kids at home alone with no phone to reach us in an emergency.
So, as I write this, I am sitting, waiting for a return call with an actual estimated date of resolution on this. I cannot help but wonder, why was the repair person initially too lazy to attempt to resolve the locked box issue, and was content in walking away and leaving me early in the situation? I also wonder why the company does not have some kind of slot or reserved time to handle an emergency case, or a way to prioritize things to handle more critical issues? Am I going to wait days to have a new line put in, and be put behind new customers or more routine cases that are not experiencing total service outages? Is there not some contingency plan that the company can have for out-of-the-ordinary critical cases like mine?
All along the way, from the initial call, the second call, the initial repair service, and the scheduled solution time, in no way did I get the feeling that the customer was the priority. It all seemed to be about normal routine handling, and lack of documenting things well, and lack of passing on that information from one crew to the next.
Is the customer service a high priority for the company? Is there such a thing as routine service versus higher priority service? Is there a contingency plan available? It appears the answer is no in all circumstance. Sad, but true.