Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Delicate Sound Of Thunder..........


Or....A short afternoon rant on the telephone..........

Hullo ma wee blog,


While I was busily typing away at the last attempt at a post the telephone rang. It was the lovely G giving me my usual how are you getting on call and checking through some of the day to day stuff that we all deal with; shopping to do, finances, what's going on in each others day - and had I had a hair cut yet. We are off out tonight for a birthday meal with a couple of friends, M and J - M my lorry driving pal with the broken leg and they of the new years blackout post. J and the lovely G travel together by train every day to work in different parts of our fair capital, have found much in common, from a distinctly odd sense of humour to a shared love of a glass or two of wine on the train home on a friday after work to de-stress them after a hard week. {that's their joint excuse anyway}

Before the call ended the lovely G asked me to give one of our credit card companies a call as she had gone online during her lunch break to check that our monthly payments had landed at the right time {wonderfully conscientious is the lovely G!} and that the payment which is generated from my income protection insurance had also been paid. We dont strictly need to pay anything ourselves as the insurance money is more than enough to cover it but we have decided to keep making our {also bigger than needed every month} payments while we have the cash as it will clear the outstanding balance a lot faster yet keeps us able to switch it on or off if we find we need to rather than pay a lump sum up front. She noticed that while our payment was marked 'payment received' the payment from the insurance company was marked 'payment received, thank you'. A small thing, but she found that it irked her that we should not be accorded the same courtesy as an insurance company.

{What can I say, I have obviously trained her well. Either that or she is spending too much time with me! She's younger than I am so its not the 'grumpy old' thing.....}

She decided that she would drop them an email to mention it but when she tried she found that emailing was blocked and a message flagged up that emailing was 'not possible as this account is in collections' please contact us on this number. Irked became irritation as she knows, working in the finance sector, that 'collections' is a euphemism for 'arrears', and that is one place where {and OK, largely down to her} we are not. She also knows, since I am the only name on the account, that they will not speak to her about it.

And so, narked, but still very calm, she explained her concerns to me over the phone and asked me to give them a wee call.

Which I did.....

I rang the number she had given me for the collections dept, and went through the three layers of automated options given to me by a very slow and quiet recording until I reached the level where I was asked to confirm my details, so they could pass me to the most appropriate - i.e. first available - member of the team. And so with some minor irritation - you should know from previous posts by now how I love not speaking to another human being - and no little apprehension of what was about to take place I prepared to answer the security questions on their voice recognition system.

Aye, you read it heart sinkingly correctly, their 'voice recognition' system.

{regular readers should stop reading now, skip the next few paragraphs and fill in the blanks for yourselves. You know what's coming next!}

I'm Scots. I can be broad Scots when I choose and I can be very - I have been told intimidatingly and chillingly - clear when I choose to be. What I don't want to be is completely tee'd off by the time I actually get a hold of the next human to speak to, so I speak calmly and clearly as I give my name, date of birth and post code, my mothers maiden name and a password, even the second time, and the third time. But by then patience is getting as thin as a paupers troosers. After another couple of attempts I am finally connected to the appropriate {and unfortunate} member of their team who advises that to enable him to speak to me and to access the details of my account he has to ask me to confirm certain security details

Quietly and calmly I offer my interpretation of what those questions are going to be and when he indicates that I have won the jackpot, I ask him why I should give him all the same information that I have already given his automated, inconvenient, unfit for purpose, frustrating and ineffectual voice recognition system, and why his company feels this is an effective and appropriate level of customer service. To be fair he launches into the data protection speech very well but falls short in answering why the questions should need to be answered twice - like the security system at the airport post of a couple of months ago - to allow me to get on with discussing what should be a quick and easy to resolve question. He also singularly fails to get the point that his companies automated ability to cheese off their customers even before he gets to speak to them doesn't make my life - or his job - any easier.

But hey, today I'm mellow compared to sometimes and he has an engaging way with him, so I give him some leeway and let him eventually get to the point where he asks me why I am calling in the first place. By now I have been on the phone for nearly 10 minutes. I ask him to pull up the account and ask why if, as he can see, that I am making an overpayment every month and that there is an additional monthly overpayment coming from my insurers that my account is flagged as in collections. To this he mistakenly answers that its company policy when there is a payment being made from 3rd part insurance companies to put a block on the account.

'What do you mean there's a 'block' on the account?'

He tells me that when an insurance payment is made this is usually an indication that the client has no income and to prevent abuse of the card they put a block on the account.

I ask him why this is an appropriate thing to do when the account has never been in arrears, been abused , and is currently receiving more than twice the requested monthly amount.

He can't answer that one so I ask to speak to a manager.

After a moment or two I am put through to someone who is clearly not going to put up with any up-themselves-and-looking-for-an-argument customer's nonsense.

When I hear the frosty response to introducing myself and my query I ask her to hold for a moment. I click my pen twice on the telephone and say to her

"Just to let you know that for absolute clarity I am making a recording of this call for my records."

Then I say thanks for waiting and explain how useful it's been in the past to have an accurate record of any conversation.

" My old editor used to tell me that and I've never forgotten the advice. It's an invaluable help in writing any article"

Two minutes later I put the phone down.

The block on my account has been removed and its no longer being dealt with by collections as we found very quickly that we agreed how inappropriate the company standard response was on an account which has been handled so consistently and so very clearly within the terms and conditions of the account.


What a nice lady!

see you later.......


listening to The Police 'Walking On The Moon'

7 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

Oh I love it Al! Why can't I think intelligently on the hoof as you do? Mind you, I did haul someone over the coals when he was taking money from my credit card for a broadband service which had never been connected. Shall we say that for once, I never raised my voice, and that his company stopped taking my money from that moment onwards.

Kat_RN said...

Just wanted to let you know, you are brilliant! May I use the pen tactic? I am grinning now.
Kat

Alistair said...

Kat - not brilliant, just sneaky. And Yes, of course you can.....

lom said...

can I used it too, what really gets up my nose is the fact 9 times out of 10 it's a mess up caused by them but I have to pay for the call which is never short and never local rate

Scottish Nature Boy said...

Nice touch - the KGB sound effects! Well done on stickin' it to the man (or woman in this case!) glad right prevailed on this occasion - hope for us all!

Anonymous said...

Oh Alistair, now I'm really beginning to worry ! The line betwixt thee & me is getting ever so blurred !! I'm not sure any more who's blog I'm reading / writing ?
You are one neat negotiator .,., well played !
Aliscud !

Alistair said...

Just think Scudder......

If we combined the ranting of our blogs it could be.......

Mad Ali sends a Scud missile!

Now that would be a rant worth writing, eh no?

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