I doubt that the public relations people at Supanet are bothering to monitor what is said about the company online, but having just had one of those frustrating conversations with a customer relations functions that we have all experienced at some time, I am taking full advantage of my ability to report its poor service online.
After over a decade of being with Supanet, I finally got around to doing something about the fact that as a loyal customer I was being charged significantly more than the figure publicised for its broadband service. Subsequently I swapped to a lower rate which includes phone calls (although I over-ride this because BT is actually cheaper for calling my mother in France).
Over the weekend I received an email advising that I could download my bill – which I did and discovered an overcharge, which will be taken from my account in five days.
So I waited until this morning and called the billing enquiries number (of course, the department only functions during “normal” weekday working hours).
After a lot of explanation, I was told that the payment was automated and a credit would be made on my account for next month. I said this was unsatisfactory; Supanet had made an error and I expect someone should be able bypass the “system” and correct the error or at least arrange a re-payment prior to next month.
I was told that a supervisor “was not able to take my call” – but I could put a request in writing to ask for a refund when the payment had been taken. This is a classic barrier technique to deter customers (Vodafone recently used this one when I wanted to swap my mother’s mobile back from being on contract to a pay as you use service – then called me to try to talk me out of the change on receiving the letter).
Despite repeating that Supanet was in error here and that I didn’t think I should be the one who was penalised for its mistake, it seemed the “computer says no” was the only response – along with an apology, which frankly is pretty worthless.
After I persisted and asked if the managing director, head of public relations or head of customer relations were working today, a supervisor agreed to speak with me.
She had clearly been on the assertive training course and forcefully told me that she had been listening to the call and repeated how they were following the company’s procedures.
Given that I had company documentation in front of me, I could refute her claims about what it said, and finally, she agreed to process a payment next Monday to “refund” the amount that is being taken from my account incorrectly.
Having got this agreed, I then asked her why she had been able to listen to my call, yet I had been told she was not available. To which she responded that she had instructed the first operator to tell me this as she was not obliged to speak to me.
I responded that this meant I had been lied to, but she smugly said that I had been told she “was not able to take my call”, not that she wasn’t there. I could almost see the childish nah-nah-nahnana gesture accompanying this remark.
As a customer of over ten years’ standing, I already felt my loyalty has never been rewarded by Supanet (yes, I know companies exist to make profit, not satisfy customers). Indeed, the supervisors reaction to my loyalty was to state ten years is pretty good to have never had a problem!!
So the first time they have had to make a change to my account and they screw it up, I get to experience that nauseating type of “customer service” that is intended to make you go away and shut up. That’s “couldn’t give a damn” rather than “customer care”.
Of course, with a new contract of a minimum of 12 months accompanying my recent change, it seems I cannot remove my business as a response. But I can still direct my calls via BT and will swap from Supanet next year.
Supanet is not alone in putting systems into place that protect its interests, not those of customers ensuring there is no immediate penalty for them, or their staff, when errors are made.
They do not care about our loyalty, nor appreciate how our hard-earned money keeps them in jobs or in business. There is probably little to choose between any internet service provider as you will find online negative experiences for most if not all of them.
We talk a lot about customer power and how social media is giving us a voice. Most companies probably see this as a further annoyance and something that should be prevented – rather than recognising the need to improve customer service.
I don’t expect any positive outcome from this blog post, but at least I can put my experience on record – to make me feel better if nothing else.