Call Me, If You Can

Never once have I used the approximately 700 blogs I have posted in the eight years since I wrote the first one as a platform for expressing my own political views or to rant specifically about a customer service experiences I have encountered.

It has been a personal rule of mine to stay away from such topics but we all reach our limits of frustration and today I reached mine.

First: No More Representative

I have long been a customer of Telus. Over the summer my former representative (he became my former representative when the company deemed my company was too small and therefore not worthy of having a representative) connected me with one of their dealers.

I had expressed interest in switching my business phones to a VOIP system and this dealer was selected to provide the service.

I should have been suspicious when the salesperson asked very few questions of my needs while assuring me that the transition would be completely seamless as it was simply a matter of plug-and-play.

I agreed to the purchase of the phones and they arrived by courier a few days later. I had emailed the sales representative a list of all the numbers to be ported over to this new system and, once the phones had arrived, I contacted Telus's dealer, as per their request, and arranged for a technician to install the phones prior to the port date.

Second: Technician with no Equipment

My suspicions should have been further aroused when the technician arrived with no tools or equipment and I, in fact, had to make a trip to a store to buy a 25’ internet cable in order for the phone on my desk to be connected.

The technician also attached a device to our printer/fax so that it would work with this new system. After he left we discovered our printers were not working and I had to pay for a service call from our IT consultant to rectify this problem. He solved the problem by unplugging the device.

Third: Wrong Date

I received an email from the company confirming September 20 as the date for the phones to be ported over. At around 3 PM on the afternoon of that day I received another email telling me my application for the porting of these phones had been approved and would be ported over the next day.

A lady in my office had returned a day early from vacation on September 20, to be present so that she could ensure her voicemail was set up. She was not pleased at having forfeited a vacation day for no reason.

The phones lines (some of them) were ported over on the morning of September 21 and I quickly discovered that our voicemail was not working. When trying to access voicemail we were prompted for a pin number and despite enormous effort on our part, we were unable to guess the correct one.

I called the sales rep who told me he was five minutes from his office and assured me that once he was there he would contact me and have a technician take care of all these issues.

Four hours later I left him a less than friendly voicemail expressing my disappointment at not having heard from him. I have still not heard from him.

I called the technician at the dealer’s office who was able to create new temporary passwords so that we could set up our voicemail.

Fourth: No Landlines

My wife Gimalle and I have always had our own land lines at home and I included these in this new system. I had been assured that all I needed to do was plug them in and use them.

Gimalle called me from her cell phone to let me know that neither of our home phones were working.

Through a contact I was able to obtain the name and phone number of the manager at the dealer’s office and left her voicemail outlining my issues. Shortly thereafter the technician who had assigned me a new pin number called and I explained the issues with our home phones.

He agreed to come to my home and get the phones working. After more than an hour of effort on his part he concluded he would need a second visit to get the phone working. He was, at least, able to forward our home phones to our cell phones so as not to leave us cut off from the world.

He did return the following Tuesday and after another couple of hours was able to get the front working on our “plug-and-play” home phones.

Fifth: No Fax

The next day he came to my office and was able to resolve most of the issues. He could not get the fax to work and took the device back to his office for further examination. This was on September 26. It was returned to my office on November 24. I still do not have a working fax.

The following week I received a survey request from Telus regarding my experience with this new system. My first thought was to ignore it but upon reflection I decided to complete the survey and did so with scathingly critical comments.

I had no expectation of ever hearing any reply to my response, so you can imagine how surprised I was when, the very next day I received a call from a Telus employee, asking what she could do to alleviate some of the issues.

I spoke with her several times in the next few days and each time, in a matter of moments, she was able to change settings and rectify issues that seem to completely confound the technical folks who work for the dealer.

Sixth: Ghosted by Customer Service

This Telus rep has delivered on everything she has promised with one rather important exception. I asked – no I made absolutely clear – I wanted my account to be assigned to a different dealer, and on November 8 she sent me an email saying this would be done by the end of that week. I have heard nothing from her, or a new dealer, since.

While not enthralled with the product, it has performed reasonably well in the past few months until an incident on Wednesday evening and most of yesterday pushed my patience to the brink.

Seventh: Voice Mail Jail

One of our assigned phone numbers is used only for people to call in and leave voicemail regarding company events, seminars and presentations.

As we have our next event scheduled for January 20 we needed to change the greeting on that phone line. We did exactly what I do each evening when I change the greeting on my direct line at my office.

Gimalle recorded the greeting and we listened to it before we hung up the phone. It was perfect. Yet each time we dial that number, we heard the original greeting – the one we were replacing. We spent more than two hours trying different methods of recording before I gave up.

Yesterday morning I called the toll-free help number I had been given and after waiting on hold for 27 minutes I reached a person for who, once I had explained the situation to her, assured me she could solve this problem.

She asked for permission to remotely access my computer and I watched for a few minutes as changes were made to my system while she was talking to me. Approximately 1 ½ hours after dialing the number I had to leave to attend a meeting. She assured me she would call me once all the changes I’d be completed.

A few hours later I received an email from our explaining she was unable to reach me as my cell phone was going to my voicemail. I checked my cell phone and there were no signs of missed calls.

I then dialed my main office number to discover that they had disabled my reception greeting – the one that directs callers to the people they wish to speak with – and replaced it with the greeting we had recorded the evening before and were unable to connect to our events line.

They had also placed the same recording on my direct line. As my direct line is forwarded to my cell phone, they had somehow managed to forward that phone elsewhere.

I replied to her email and asked her for a number that I could use to call her. She replied saying that was not possible and was there any number she could call me on? I borrowed a cell phone from one of the people in my office and called her. I was quite incredulous that people who work for the phone company don’t have phone access.

We spent more than an hour on the phone and I had to leave once again. This time I refused to allow her to remotely access my computer while I was not in the office. She agreed to call me at exactly 5 PM my time as that was the only time I was going to be available. She called me at 6 PM as I was leaving to attend a meeting.

I have a friend/client who installed the same phone system in his company. His company is significantly larger than mine and the problems he has experienced turn mine into insignificance. His business has multiple locations and it was a crapshoot as to which location a caller dialing the number would be connected to.

They had many problems with the system and very little support from their dealer. I connected my friend with the lady who had contacted me after I completed the survey and she was able to remedy some, but not all of their issues. Their best estimate is that they missed more than 500 incoming calls and, as they are a retail company, that can potentially translate into tens of thousands of dollars of lost business.

That lady connected both of us with another lady and we had a conference call during which we both told our stories and she took detailed notes.

I have had several conversations with her since, as has my friend, and we find her to be very helpful.

Today, after my head had exploded from the frustration of dealing with this issue, I called her begging for help.

Finally: I'm being overcharged

She connected me with a senior technician who called me last night and corrected all these voicemail issues in 10 minutes. He was knowledgeable, competent and a pleasure to deal with. I also found out in speaking with him that I’m paying far too much for my service as I am being charged approximately $200 each month for features I neither need nor use.

The measure of customer service occurs not when things are going well but when things are going wrong. I have found the levels of customer service with this company, and particularly its partners to be beyond appalling.

I’m not sure if they are aware of the damage these incompetent partners are doing to their brand, but I have to believe that if I and my friend, being the only two people/companies I know who have switched to this system are experiencing such horrendous service, there are probably many more.

In fact, my friend shared with me the tale of two of his friends, also business owners, who are going through the same challenges with the same system.

In speaking with those women, we asked to be connected to a senior manager at the company. Neither of us expected this to happen and we were right. It seems senior people, perhaps those at a VP level or higher do not speak with customers. Or perhaps, their willingness to speak with a customer is determined by the size of that customer’s account.

If this is the case it is a huge mistake on their part for while our accounts may not be huge, they don’t know who we know, but I do know we will both share our stories many times with many others.

Examples of atrocious customer service seem to far exceed those of exceptional service.Perhaps we have simply moved to a time when nobody really cares. I hope this is not the case but I’m going to ask for your help.

Share this Story, and Yours

Please repost this, and in reposting, ask your connections to do the same for it is only by spreading the word that one can ever hope to invoke change.

And ask them also to please contact me.

I can be reached at (403) 203 0343 or (888) 929 0343. Hopefully you’ll be able to get through. You can also email me at [email protected]

My blogs are always intended to be humorous, or light, or inspirational or informative. Never have I wanted them to be about criticism and blame. And so, I apologize to those of you who read my blogs each week.

I hope you understand my frustration, I'd love to hear in the comments if you've had any similar experiences.

Till we read again.

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