Thursday, 22 March 2012

Getting out of hand

Well, today, we have a customer who is threatening to "make a formal complaint and report us to the regulator" because of our favourite telco having some blips today on Faraday. These are issues that are (a) outside our control (b) brief (c) affecting all 21CN lines on all ISPs in those areas (d) not unusual for a broadband service.

I am gob-smacked.

He has dived in with the treats from the start...

And then, the same customer is threatening to "make a formal complaint and take us to the regulator" because an email he sent bounced by the recipient mail server.

Again, WTF?

So this leaves me in the position of trying to tactfully explain that he clearly has a fundamental misunderstanding about the services we offer, and unless we can resolve that misunderstanding we will have to simply terminate services(with the contractual 30 days notice).

In the past I would have dismissed such stupidity.

What concerns me is that he could take it to ADR and get lots of compensation even though we have done nothing wrong. We live in worrying times.

Followup: The customer has kindly emailed saying this is not about the money (compensation) and that if we have wasted his time he will waste ours by taking us to the regulator. This email is proof that any ADR action would be vexatious, so I have saved it, and issued a migration code. What the hell does one do!?!?

Followup: He is not happy that we are terminating his service... What can I say!

15 comments:

  1. Issue a MAC code and wish him all the best in 30 days time. IMO.

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    1. Quite - in fact I have sent a very polite letter to the ombudsman asking for advice, and asking to confirm they are happy for us to simply give customers notice (as per contract) where there clearly is some misunderstanding about what we offer.

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  2. Sure he wasn't on a windup? That's crazy.

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    1. I may miss humour some times, but these emails looked sincere to me.

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  3. I am pondering a simple policy - any threat of a formal complaint or starting a formal complaint and (unless we are stuck on 12 month term) we give the customer 30 days notice as per the contract. It may be the simplest thing to do, and perhaps even explain such a policy up front.

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    1. I.e. "yes you have a right to take us to ADR, and we have a right to terminate your service"...

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  4. It reminds me of the old Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch based on That's Life where the Electricity Board got the blame for everything after the purchase of a new fridge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2QZprRgxDc

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  5. I'd worry that the ADR people would see that as an unfair term, as even though you're entitled to terminate their contract with whatever the defined notice is at any time, it's still potentially causing hassle for the customer, and thus could be taken as a 'threat' to some extent?

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    1. Thats the thing - customers can "threaten to leave" us if we don't do something for them - it happens. Is that unfair too?

      Basically, the argument is that any customer making a formal complaint costs us more money and makes providing the service to them non viable commercially. As director I have to act in the best interests of the company and shareholders so I must terminate services to customers that are non viable.

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  6. Depends what you mean by 'formal complaint'. Escalation is normal when you're annoyed (and the occasional threat of ADR should be expected.. people say dumb shit under stress) - AAISP makes it simple to escalate issues to the MD :p

    If you're saying the moment anyone complains you'll terminate their contract, that's not very fair on the 99% of reasonable people out there.

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    1. OK, maybe somewhere in between.

      Basically, any real risk of ADR!

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  7. What does piss me off is that I am happy to rectify mistakes - we make mistakes - shit happens. We do good will payments and compensation and apologies.

    We try to be reasonable - even the ADR case we did a big credit and thought that was the end of it. We did not have to.

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  8. I think you need to find a healthy middle ground here.

    I'm still trying to figure out a few 'oddities' with the way A&A does things but some of them are confusing to say the least and some of them mean I end up giving less business to A&A when I would really love to give you more - something to discuss at AAISPISSUP methinks!

    There are very few occasions when I try and argue a customer out of requesting a MAC code as over 90% of our customers who leave us then return within three months (or whenever their contract with 'new ISP' expires) - those that return don't tend to leave again.

    The point is that the customer sometimes has to see how sh*t the competition really are before they realize how good a deal they currently have.

    If the customer is of previous good standing, I would throw them their MAC, advise them that they are welcome to try out the competition but not to sign up to a 12-month contract and that you are happy to have them back if they change their mind - warn them that moving to LLU will likely cost them money if they ever decide to move away from that provider in the future (regardless of whether they come back to A&A or not).

    You may also consider doing what we do and state that ADSL is offered to end users with the same SLA that BT Wholesale offers; i.e. absolutely sweet f*ck all, point out that the service is only as reliable or as fast as the weakest link in the chain and only worth as much as they are paying for it.

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  9. A place I used to work at had a policy that as soon as legal action was threatened (ADR wasn't around back then), we would immediately end communications and state all further communications must be in writing due to the threat of legal action and that, as they were unhappy with the service, would be utilising the 30 day termination clause.

    Amazing how many people would instantly apologise...

    (Admittedly, the service was heavily over subscribed - it was for an "unlimited" web host who wouldn't invest into the infrastructure).

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    1. I am so leaning towards that. I need a way for people to back out though. A way to say formally "the current dispute is resolved, thanks" in a way ADR will accept. Then we can work on fixing the underlying problem sensibly.

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