Sometimes when you have or are about to purchase things, they dont always go your way – here are a few UK based laws that could help you gain the upper hand.
Following on from my post about Play.com’s customer service from couple of weeks ago. I thought that I would firstly update you on the progress of that complaint, and then inform you of a new issue that had arisen. Problem One Update: Firstly let me update you with the first problem I had with Play.com – me having to spend a small fortune to authorise a credit card to be used to purchase an item. It was apparent that the email I had sent wasn’t going to have the desired effect, as neither the CEO or one of his representatives emailed me back so instead decided to leave it rest for a few days then give them a ring. Two days later (the 8/12/11) was the day where I would pick up the phone and refuse to lose. To my surprise the phone was answered within five minutes by a representative (whom we shall call Kim). She took the details of the complaint and asked what I wanted, I referred to the email which I had sent in, and explained the cost of the call (£10.20), the cost for me to remain on hold for 50 minutes (£20.83). It was clear by her tone of voice that she was ‘first line’ support and so had no authority to authorise anything, and so promptly put me on hold (for a further 4 minutes) whilst she spoke to her supervisor. Let us call representative two Lynne; she was in my opinion the body guard for the decision makers, as she understood my complaint and stated that due to the fact that it was a very busy time of year waiting time was to be longer. I then put to her what she would consider to be an excessive wait on the phone and she declined to answer that, probably as it would have been significantly less than the amount of time I had to endure. Realising that whilst Lynne understood my complaint however was unwilling to help was in fact getting me nowhere bar bringing on a small nosebleed I decided to ask to speak to someone else. I was put on hold for a further ten minutes waiting for supervisor three to come on, we shall call him Tim. Tim came on the phone, and was a breath of fresh air; he had a positive tone of voice, and asked me to give him the details of the case as he wanted to be sure that he had the story ‘from the horses mouth’. Something which would have normally wound me up, however as Tim did have the basic facts this did not take long. Tim then asked for my number for him to call me back on so that I would avoid any further charges from O2. Within a few moments of me hanging up my phone rang with Tim being on the other end, he asked me what I wanted and so referred him to my previous email. He agreed to refund me £20.40 for the cost of the phone calls, and give me a £30 credit voucher. Its true that I didn’t ask for a credit voucher in my original complaint, however the total sum of compensation was significantly higher than I asked for so on this occasion I would let it go. Tim promptly followed this up with a confirmation email with his direct dial, informing me that rather than wait in future if there is a cue, to give him a call, something that hoped I wouldn’t have to do, but after yesterdays performance realised I would. So problem one has been resolved. Problem Two: Yesterday I began to wrap my brothers present for the festive season. It was an item of clothing and whilst I ordered the correct size, the wrong size has been dispatched, and all sizes of said clothing had been removed from the website. ‘Oh great’ I thought, only a few days till the big day and a present that won’t fit, not to mention that even if I did order something it probably wouldn’t arrive – what on earth would I do? I decided to give Play.com customer support a ring, hopefully the amount of time for them to answer the phone wouldn’t be this long this time; well it would have been if I had let it. After the first 30 minutes I gave up and decided to ring Tim, as I rang after 6 he was out of the office and so left a voicemail, and continued for a further 15 minutes trying to get through to customer support, after which I had enough. Rather than spend my life savings on phone calls to Play.com I sent off an email to Tim, in hope that he would receive it and give me a phone call in an attempt to put this right. If I haven’t heard from him by 12 today, I will give him a ring and see what he suggests. As far as things go I have managed to find a present from Amazon and paid for next day delivery so it should (please g0d) arrive before the big day. For the time being I have given up on Play.com, I will be sure to update you on what the outcome was, but for now, I am not impressed to say the least!
The wealth of consumer complaints programs both on TV and Radio, coupled with recent life experiences have perhaps made clear to me the lack of willingness for members of the public, in what ever walk in life to take a stand in what they truly believe in. Yes I am aware that industrial action over the past few months and years has increased, however with the last display of public strikes (whom the majority were teachers) only ¼ of those eligible to strike actually took part, with the remainder choosing to cross the picket line. Whether you agree with the method of striking politically, the very fact that it has become accepted that when ever the ‘ordinary’ person is to enter into a battle, in order for them to proceed they have to be 100% certain that they are going to win. Personally I think this is wrong. No matter what situation you come up against in life you can never be 100% certain of the outcome, and with the case of political debates, there will almost certainly be an expert who knows more on a given topic than yourself; so why bother? The reason why you should bother is because large companies, bosses, teachers, politicians all expect you to back down; they know that you either don’t have the time and energy to continue fighting your corner, and so will eventually back down. If this is the case, you may as well firstly not have taken up the complaint in the first place, and secondly just put the welcome mat on the floor and ask them to walk all over you. It is true, that in todays world that we do have less time, energy (and in some cases funding) to continue to fight what we believe is right – so we turn to unions for support. The aim of unions is that one voice is quiet, where as a union of hundreds of voices carries a lot more oomph, and the threat of any action carries a lot more weight behind it. However unions can not do the work for you. Unions are there to assist you in getting your point across, not to do all the work for you. In the case of trade unions – the threat of striking is useless of no-one acts upon it; in the case of student union the threat of taking something further is pointless if people don’t stand behind it; and in the case of the work place, the threat of going above your line managers head and taking it to the MD is pointless unless the support is behind you to do so. So where am I going with this? Firstly society as a whole needs to start standing up for what they rightfully believe in, accept that you may not win all the battles you choose to fight; the person you are standing up against depends on your self doubt for you to back down. Secondly refuse to give up at the first hurdle; in the case of making a complaint to a company don’t give up when the first person you speak to says no. Ask to speak to someone else who is more senior, and if required call back on a different occasion. Thirdly don’t expect unions to do all the work for you. Yes they are there to help you, but they are not there to do all the work for you. Why should a union put their money/public image at risk, if you are not happy to assist them in fighting your corner? If you’re not happy to get your hands dirty, you will never end up winning.
Following ordering a product from Play.com I received an email asking me to phone in to verify my account for security reasons; not a problem as it is for my benefit. What is not for my benefit is being on hold for 50+ min on an 0845 number (costing me 20.4p) a min to sort this out. The full phone call cost over a third of what the product cost me! This means war! The saga continues…
Well, here is something I thought I would never see!
Well, it would appear that my Sky Saga is coming to an end. You may recall that I arranged for Sky to fit the broadband in my new apartment in Manchester; to cut a long story short; they didn’t show up after I had arranged to take the day off work. This prompted me to send them a letter (click here for the letter), outlining that I found this behaviour and level of customer service unacceptable and asked for compensation. A week later I had still not received a reply, so I rang in to find that contrary to what I had asked for, a £30 credit had been placed on my account. I was asked to send in another letter to chase up a reply, which I did (click here for the second letter I sent to Sky). The time had then come for me to move in, so before I moved I went online to check to see if my broadband was active; it wasn’t. After I rang customer service they said that it could take up to another week. To say I was upset was an understatement; I flooded the Sky forums with my anger, however wanted to take things further; I wanted to email the CEO. A quick browse online found me the fantastic website CEOEmail.com I found the CEO for Sky, Jeremy Darroch and emailed him, and sent him attachments of the letters I had sent. One of his representatives emailed back (we shall call him Harry), and a tug of war soon developed; Harry refused to offer me any more than the £30 credit, and I refused to accept that pitiful amount. We had reached ‘deadlock’. Each of my replies to Harry were CC’ed to Jeremy however he refused to budge. I informed him that I would be taking this matter further, informing BBC Watchdog, the Ombudsman Service, and if need be, take them to small claims court to get the result I wanted. All went quiet for a few days, however last Thursday I decided to carry out my promise and send BBC Watchdog an email; however rather than just send them an email, I sent them a copy of every letter and every email I had sent; and most importantly I CC’ed Harry in so they could see that I didn’t make empty threats. A few hours later I received a call from a Sky representative (we shall call her Amy) out of the blue. She had read all the emails and letters prior to ringing me and was very polite and apologetic. We spoke about the problems that I had experienced, and confirmed that mistakes had been made in both the taking down of my email address, for confirmation purposes, and that no message was sent informing me that my presence wasn’t required for the installation of my broadband. It felt so good to finally be speaking to someone who was not only informed on the problems I had experienced, but recognised that I was entitled to be upset about the way I had been treated. Amy finally breached the issue of compensation; she understood that in this instance a £30 account credit wasn’t appropriate, and knew instantly that I had asked for £260 to cover loss of earnings, the aborted visit, and transportation costs; she offered to send me a £300 cheque, £40 more than I asked for; which I accepted. Where do I sit with Sky now? I do now consider this matter resolved, and I am happy with the outcome which I have got. I asked for compensation and after a long hard fight, I did get it. I am a realist and do understand that the larger a company grows there will always be a small percentage of customers who receive poor service, and no amount of training will solve that. Where a large company can set itself apart from its rivals is the amount of time it takes for them to put the mistake right. I do think (and think Sky would also admit it,) that this dragged on for longer than it needed to, and I am disappointed that Sky couldn’t resolve this prior to me having to involve 3rd parties to mediate – however that said and done I am pleased with the overall outcome, and will not be holding any grudges against Sky; they made a mistake, (eventually) admitted that they were wrong, and put it right – lets move on. If you have a complaint against a large company what would I recommend that you do to get the result that you are after: Firstly and most importantly, when you speak to someone at a company, make a note of the date/time and length of time you were on the phone for (both waiting and speaking). Also get either the name of the person you are speaking to, or an ID number (something that identifies them from their colleagues) and an overview of what was discussed. If you can, ask them to email a confirmation of what was discussed. If you send a letter in, always send it recorded delivery, that way you are sure your complaint has arrived. If you feel you are getting no-where try and email the CEO by using the email from CEOEmail.com I found it useful to attach a copy of all letters/emails sent so that they (or their representative) can see what has been going on. When you put your complaint to them, also tell them what they can do to put it right. They will usually offer an ‘account credit’ as a ‘good will’ gesture however this amounts to free service which is charged at retail rate, and not the true cost to the company concerned. If you are out of pocket, you want to be reimbursed in cash. Never make threats or promises that you wont carry out or stick to. If you promise that you will take them to small claims court, do so; the chances are they will realise you mean […]