Saturday, 19 January 2013

Bullies

I'm not giving in to threats of bad reviews and ADR, sorry.

I have someone that has been using internet service bought by is former employer and now, after he has left their employ, he is upset that our customer (his former employer) has asked for service to be ceased. It almost equates to using a neighbours wifi and getting upset when they turn it off, in my opinion.

We were working with him and our customer to arrange for him to take over the line, and obviously we want that to be seamless so that there is not a gap where neither old or new customer is paying for when service was provided. This sort of thing is not that uncommon, though usually when a company takes over a previous company. He would not take over from when the existing customer stopped wanting the service, so we did not reach an agreement. Shame. Now our customer has requested a cease of the service, which we are doing - what else could we do?

What is odd is that, before even becoming a customer, he has: threatened to take us to court; said he would claw back a direct debit if he became a customer; accused us of blackmail; had someone claiming to be a solicitor call and hassle us; said he will take us to ADR; and threatened to give us bad reviews. He had me at "blackmail", to be honest - I decided that it was not good business sense to have him as a customer, sorry. It kind of went down hill from there, proving I made the right choice.

Now I have the prospect of a laughable ADR case, which should fall flat on its face as he is not even a customer, as well as bad reviews from someone who has never, in fact, had service from us (and never will). We are not making services available to him, so at this stage is not even a prospective customer. To add to the fun, on his account application he said he is a communications provider, so not even eligible for ADR even if he had become a customer.

When I say someone claiming to be a solicitor, I mean someone that is not listed on the law society web site. Later we were told he is a barrister, but oddly he is not listed as a barrister either. He claimed to be from a practice which oddly is also not listed on the law society web site. Maybe we spelt him name wrong or something. What can I say?

I know that we get a lot of customers simply because we (well, I) do have some principles and I am not afraid to stick by them. I learned about bullies the hard way and I am not going to be bullied now. Taking on a customer like this would tie up time, money, and resources we could be spending on other customers and that is not fair on them.

If this means bad reviews, it will mean a calmly written "right to reply" on whatever site he posts reviews. If it means ADR it will be discussions with the new ADR company about what exactly they are doing taking such a case. After the previous, and only, ADR case, we tightened up the contract terms and wording on our web site a lot to avoid this sort of crap. This will be an excellent test of those changes.

I am not trying to be unreasonable with anyone - we tried to sort this amicably, but once someone goes down this sort of road it really makes no sense.

If he feels he had "poor customer service" from us, then (pretty much by definition) I have to agree with him. Customer service is about perception of the customer, so no dispute from me on that - and I am happy to publicly apologise for any poor customer service, perceived or real, that he has had (as a prospective customer). I think we tried to help him, but as I say, it is all about perception. Just to be clear, that means there is not a dispute to resolve regarding customer service or a need to ask an ADR for an apology as I have just apologised.

I'm blogging this because it is stressing me - I take the business seriously and I take customer satisfaction seriously. If people think I am not doing the right thing, tell me. But I really feel one should not give in to bullies.

I do sincerely wish him good luck - I hope he manages to sort new Internet access he needs promptly. It is a shame that he has, apparently, made sure his business relies on a single ADSL line with no backup, but what can I say. Perhaps his neighbour has wifi he can use (with permission, of course).

19 comments:

  1. On the basis that mr grumpy has not, nor has ever had, a contract with aaisp, then adr cannot be an option? Do tell me that ADR has no jurisdiction unless you already have a contract. Please. ..!

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    1. Read the Comms Act definition of "customers" as it is scary. Fortunately ADR only covers bills (not applicable), quality of the telecommunications service provided (not applicable) and customer service. Hard to see how you get a "dispute" that is customer service, especially as we offer to be "rude and unhelpful" to people before they are customers. We'll see what CISAS say if he takes it to them. I will be a good test of their sanity.

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  2. That reminds me, the email after I upgraded to fttc asked me to post reviews :P I must remember to do so at some point soon

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  3. I sold some equipment to a chap once. He re-sold it to somebody else and eventually, about two years later, a third person had it. Said person then contacted me because it developed a fault and they wanted me to fix it else they would take me to court.

    The day was not going well so I asked him if he would mind awfully going away to fulfill his biblical obligation to multiply and subdue the Earth. He duly obliged. The next week I received a "Solicitors Letter" from a fake company which I ignored. The whole thing went away.

    I guess some people just don't understand.

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  4. Quality customer service should be for quality customers. I agree it's not a good situation to be in with a potential customer, so I agree with the stand you're taking.

    I'd want time to forget, at least...

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    1. Of course we do aim to provide a high quality of customer service and welcome feedback, but it is subjective, and not what we are selling - we sell working telecommunications services. This whole ADR stuff has led to the contract stating that we do not offer any quality of customer service and we pre-agree no compensation for poor customer service. The terms actually say that people who are not yet customers will get the worst possible customer service, ignoring them, being rude and unhelpful. Obviously not what we will do, but if that is the formal reference for disputes, then we always exceed expectation. I was thinking we should start a brand "RudeISP" even. For most of our customers what they want is working telecommunications service, not a friend :-)

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  5. He is hassling still - I have said I don't dispute any poor customer service issues he perceives and apologise for them. Hard to see what ADR case could follow, but we will see.

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    1. Surely as he's not a customer he hasn't received any customer service at all...

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  6. I really don't understand people like this

    The way I see it, either he's doing this because he truly feels hard done by, or he's doing it because he's just a large implement for cleaning out horse vaginas.

    If the former, then why continue to threaten legal action after you've tried to solve his problem? I'm guessing you advised on alternative solutions (3G etc) between the gap of services?

    If the latter, then you have a total right to withdraw any offer of service, and he has no right to complain about you not offering those services.

    If this becomes another successful ADR then it will be more proof that the system just does not work

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    1. We were trying to help and it got silly, so yes, we stopped helping.

      He has internet (else how is he still emailing me) so I am sure he can cope. I even tried to get the cease moved forward but BT systems saying it is committed or some such.

      And yes, if this was a success for ADR then the system is so broken I am not sure what next. It is a chance for CISAS to show proper sanity and I really hope they do.

      Thanks for the positive comments though - helps a lot.

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  7. Got a company car, lost my job, lost my car... blaming the garage. Sounds logical! Let's sue the car manufacturer :-)

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  8. Not knowing the situation with this person and his former employer I am making a guess here.

    It sounds like he didn't leave the former employer on good terms and is "acting out", probably out of some sense on wrong doing and he is re-directing that feeling on being wronged onto A&A. Hopefully he'll read this blog [plus comments] and realise what he's done wrong.

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  9. Mr Angry here. Interesting to read this blog. The way the story has been told so far does make it sound like I'm in the wrong. But things are not always as they seem and in this case a couple of key facts have been missed out.

    Actually what happened was the customer didn't formally cease the service. They just stopped paying and eventually said they didn't want it. That left a debt on the account. So, having rung A&A and explained I was told that I was not the customer, that the line was being ceased, and that it would take two weeks to complete and a further week for a new service to be provided.

    Then comes the critical bit: If I pay the debt run up by their customer they would let me take over the account.

    So I'm left with two options, pay someone else's debt, or lose service for 3 weeks. I'm trying to run a business here and being without connectivity for that long would be a nightmare, so I'm sure it's not the biggest leap of faith to see why the word 'blackmail' was used.

    Now it seems Adrian wasn't too happy with this accusation being pointed at his credit controller and decided he didn't want to do business with me. Fair enough, I was happy to oblige. Except I couldn't, because it takes 2 weeks for the cease to happen and until that time I can't order anyone else's service. A cease costs £32+VAT by the way on top of the BT wholesale rental charge for the time that the cease takes. I'm not sure on the cost of the latter but it's safe to say additional charges would be run up on a line with little chance of recovery from my ex-employer.

    At this stage it would be reasonable to assume that getting me onto a new ISP would be the ideal solution for both parties and this could be accomplished by providing a MAC code. This is free to A&A (saving the £32) and would mean any exposure to additional line rental would be reduced. Clearly the sensible thing to do all round, except that in some kind of punishment for me not accepting the offer to pay the debt they refused the MAC, forcing me to have to wait out the cease and re-provide period. Hopefully you can see why I'm getting even more annoyed by now.

    Anyway, I've calmed down a lot about this since last week and can see that fighting back as hard as I did wasn't the best way of dealing with the matter. On the flip side, I hope Adrian can see that the threats of being forced offline put me in a very vulnerable position, and if you force anyone into a corner it's only natural that they will fight back.

    I also appreciate the point of 'those are the rules' and I'm not familiar enough with them to argue. I do however object to the fact that A&A were prepared to bend said rules if money was to change hands but when it became obvious that I wasn't going to pay up the rules stood.

    I'm not angry that Adrian doesn't want to provide me with service. I'm not even angry that I've got to wait for a new service to be installed. I'm angry because this could have been so easy and yet it has turned out so difficult. It could have been a case of 'the customer doesn't want the line but this new guy does', new account, new direct debit, and off we go everyone is happy. But it didn't, and looking back over the email thread my only thought is that it all went wrong when I was told by A&A's credit controller to pay the outstanding or lose the line. For this A&A have to accept at least some of the responsibility for the situation.

    Anyway, I've said my piece on all of this and hopefully it helps both Adrian and anyone else reading to understand my side of the situation. Hopefully we can put this behind us.

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    1. In the interests of being fair, I have approved your comment on the blog. As a rule I do not reject comments other than obvious spam and duplicates.

      There are certain rules, and some of them are quite complicated. We also have policies which are generally sensible as well - including cases where someone is taking over service from someone else, and being joined up payment wise - i.e. both parties agree one handover date (even if retrospective) and payments are made without a gap by one or other party. There is no problem, rules wise, with us changing an account from one customer to another if we want to - the rules relate to when we can extract a MAC from the likes of BT and when we have to issue one. There are also rules on ADR, and your comments are going to lead to some lengthly discussion with CISAS regarding people who are not yet customers and if there are ever any circumstances that such a person could take a case to ADR (we believe not, but I'll report on that later).

      I trust you have received my email on this though - the fact you are on a 21CN line means a new ISP also using BTW WMNC could provide a working login for you now, even before the cease completes. As I understand it, they can also order a provide on a line with a pending cease to minimise any downtime. if you were a customer moving to us under such circumstances we would be able to take such steps, but not all ISPs would be willing or able.

      I am not trying to be difficult, but I feel the way you personally approach such issues is not compatible with us providing a service to you.

      Best of luck.

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    2. What worries me is your attempt to put the "I can't live without internet" on AAISP... this could happen at any time due to any reason and could last weeks - Just ask the residents of Ewhurst, Surrey - who have just had their phone lines nicked and will be offline for around a week.

      If the internet is so critical to how you work / what you do - you should have a plan to allow you to continue working. For example I have 3 broadband services via different technologies _and_ a mobile dongle on PAYG just in case.

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    3. bcw - First have to agree with "1". If the Internet is so critical to you then you should have a backup situation (hell, even as a home user I can use my phone to tether if my broadband goes down).

      Secondly - This bizarre claim that A&A were blackmailing you. I'm going to re-cap what I think you've said in your post above - that way if I have mis-understood something you can let me know.

      1. You were not the paying customer of the line in question (i.e. not your name on the account)

      2. The account holder (for whatever reason) stopped paying and built up a debt. I assume that A&A chased this debt, got nowhere and instigated cease proceedings on the line. This doesn't strike me as unreasonable - You say you run a business, how long would you provide a service to a customer who wasn't paying?

      3. You wanted to take over the line and, IMO, A&A said "no problem, just pay off the debt and we'll go from there". Again, to me, this is not unreasonable and happens all the time in business - a new company comes in and pays the debt(s) of an old company because it wants something the old company has (in your case the broadband line).

      Personally, I think the main thing you should take from this is your lack of backup strategy. Whoever you decide to get your broadband from make sure you have a backup in place - 3G, 2nd broadband line, cable but as long as you get something this situation won't happen again.

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  10. Can I ADR you for your customer service not being as bad as the contract claims it will be? :)

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  11. Is this a guy who's initials begin CW by any chance?

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  12. I wonder if this difficult individual's former employers even knew they were paying for his domestic internet contract, let alone subsidising a business that one of their (now former) staff admits to have been running on the side? For that matter, I also wonder if he was paying tax in either his benefits in kind or on his second source of income?

    The customer is of course the person named as being resposible for payment, and BCW freely admits that his former employer was the actual customer in this instance, thus the issue of ADR does not apply to third parties.

    No business is compelled to offer a service/continuity of service, albeit that they must not of course unlawfully discriminate on the basis of age, ethnic origin, faith, sex, etc.

    Given the bad attitude, let alone the attempt to intimidate through the use of a Walkter Mitty solicitor/barrister, let alone the admission that this person continued to enjoy services paid for (knowingly or otherwise) by his former employer after he had left their employment, I wouldnt deal with him, either.

    Little wonder he lost his job. I shall certainly be very wary of employing anyone with the initials CW, if the above post is correct



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