I am intrigued by an advert for a new TV series "The complainers" about a trend of people that just complain for the hell of it.
I suspect I will be shouting at the TV.
At AAISP we really do try hard to provide good service for our customers (even though making this not part of the contract for legal reasons!). I know a lot of you know this, and appreciate it. But there are just occasionally, and very rarely, occasions where I really cannot win and we have to give up.
This is seriously rare, but I have once again (second time in 17 years, I think) sacked a customer. It is so rare, and such a concern, that I think it is worth blogging. What do you think? I am being a bit frank here, and obviously I am not going to name and shame the customer.
This is a case of a customer that is, apparently, an on-call doctor (surgeon, I think) and apparently needs to be contactable as a matter of life and death, but lives in the middle of nowhere that has no mobile coverage on any network.
OK, that is scary for a start. We really try not to be involved in "safety of life" services. We even make that one of our terms. We cannot exclude liability for death or personal injury from our contract terms, and if it happened and we were negligent we'd have to rely on our public liability insurance. The services we offer are subject to a lot of other companies (not least of which is BT) and is not something we can safely say will be 100% reliable. We'd love to say it is, but we are realistic here. We were not told this when the customer ordered (and would not have taken the order if we were).
So first issue, after the broadband was installed and working, was the phone line suddenly ceased. We suspect our customer migrated her number to a VoIP provider and that killed the phone line (which we were not providing) and so that killed the broadband (which we were). We are not entirely sure of the cause of the cease, but it was not us! We worked hard to get her back on line as soon as possible, obviously, and we started providing the phone line as well.
Thankfully, after a lot of nasty emails she agreed it was not actually our fault and we did everything right. It was hard work and took a lot of man hours to sort this, for which we make no extra charge.
We explained carefully that relying on a single connection when on-call was not really very responsible. We explained how we do offer some higher availability multiple line services using separate carriers and more than one phone line. It still cannot guarantee 100% uptime, but was likely to be a lot more reliable, especially in a rural area. But no, she did not take that.
This weekend she hit her usage limit on Home::1. Yes, for an on-call doctor using VoIP she purchased a domestic service with strict credit controls that cut off when you hit quota. We point this out specifically as a term when ordering, and on the invoice and order confirmation and in the printed information pack. We also explain that you can opt to have auto topup rather than being cut off. But no, she opted to stay with the "cut me off when I use too much" option, and it happened on a weekend. Fortunately someone was around at the weekend, picked up the email and topped her up and got her on-line, out of hours.
Apparently, doing exactly what we agreed is disgusting. She had considered going to a hotel so she could be contacted while the broadband was down. She wants compensation and will be taking legal action. Hmmm.
Bear in mind she has a phone line, and that works. It is a BT line we provide now (for the broadband), and has a phone number and can be called. If she plugs in a phone and someone calls the number, it will ring. We had explained this already after the last fiasco with the line cease. But apparently that is not good enough - she needs her working VoIP, and only that, on the one and only domestic broadband line she has which has strict credit control enabled.
I have said I will waive the six month minimum term and terminate the service on 30 days notice - clearly we cannot meet her requirements. I personally think that, if what she says is true, she has to be the most irresponsible doctor I encountered. Who goes on-call and then deliberately buys the most unreliable system of communications, ignores other means (phone line), ignores advice, and then complains? Does she go in to surgery with just one scalpal? I am quite shocked at this, to be honest.
I am struggling to find what we could have done better - I have checked, and we not only highlight the terms on the web page, and during the order, but we send email and paper information pack explaining it all in great detail. If there is any way I could do better I'd like to know and I'd like to improve our service. Sacking a customer is a sorry admission of defeat here, but I don't see an alternative.
Lets hope this does not turn in to an ADR case. I think we are being very reasonable letting her off the six month term, and wish her the best of luck with her next ISP.