Speaking as director of A&A I can say for sure that we absolutely do not want to mislead or trick customers in any way whatsoever, at all, ever.
We actually want to make the products and services we sell "intuitively" reasonable and fair if we can. The sad state of things is that some things have some caveats. The main one being the minimum term on some of our broadband services and so some early termination charges.
In some cases we have taken a pragmatic and statistical view, so FTTC on BT backhaul we sell on 6 month terms even though we are stung with 12 months terms from BT. This is because what we pay BT for the circuit is only part of the cost - it does not cover the bandwidth usage, for example. We feel that overall, even for those ceasing within 12 months, we do not lose out, much, on average, by having a 6 month term and a low monthly early termination charge for remaining term.
Sadly, for the TT FTTC backhaul, not only are we stuck paying a to a 12 month term, we even get stung with a nonsensical "early termination fee" on top of that - even though TTB get the full cost for the term without having to provide service. It is actually more expensive to have service for 355 days than 356 days. It is a crazy situation which we have tried to re-negotiate without success several times. As a result we sell these services with a 12 month term and a higher monthly early termination charge just to make sure we usually cover our costs.
If only Openreach did not do FTTC/FTTP on 12 month min term and if only BTW and TTB did not insist on 12 month min term too, we would not insist on it, simple as that.
However, on the bases that we are stuck with some shit like this, and hence some services we sell that are not as "intuitively fair" as we like, we are really keen to ensure transparency and making sure no customer is fooled or tricked by what we sell or misled, or even misunderstands by mistake.
The web site explains. The order form lists "key contract terms" and requires ticking a box to agree the minimum term and early termination costs. These are the very first of these terms. Not hidden away with all the bureaucratic crap we have to do anyway - but up front, at the top. We then email those terms as an order confirmation just to re-enforce what was agreed.
Recently a customer purchased one of these 12 month term services at a premises where they would be living there for only a few weeks. And as such was shocked at the cost to terminate or move to new address within 12 months.
I was horrified! How did this happen? We try to be so clear. We even have services (with higher install costs) that have only 1 month term that would have been way better. How did this happen?
The customer did speak to sales, and so far I have confirmed that the sales staff have reviewed the calls, but I want to as well. It is all very well saying "you ticked this box", but the whole customer experience matters.
What is the way A&A handle this? To be honest this is rare so comes down to me to decide. What I have said is that if we, in any way, on the phone call (for example), misled the customer, then the customer should not lose out and not pay the early termination. If we said something on the call, we stand by it. If that is wrong, then I have to make sure that staff have the training they need to not make that mistake in future.
But, as it seems to be, assuming we are right, and we were not misleading in a call or website or order form, this is still a big concern. How did this happen, and importantly what can we do to stop any sort of misunderstanding like this in future? Bigger text, bolder font, what?
I take this seriously - we are not here to trick customers. When there are caveats, like minimum terms, we need to be really clear. I really wish we did not have them, but we are not trying top "trap" customers. Customers should stay with us because they want to - because the service is worth every penny. Definitely not because we tricked them.
So my job this week is going through the call recordings, the web site, the order form, and doing all I can to ensure no customer ever has this misunderstanding again. I have offered this customer the option to spread payments (though she declined). If my investigation finds any hint that we misled her in any way, I will refund the early termination charges.
If A&A do not trade on integrity, we should not be trading at all.
So far we have added this extra box above the "Key terms", tweaked wording a bit, reviewed call recordings, and discussed further ways we can improve. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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