Warning: It’s a bit of a long story…but I would be interested to hear the view of other GZers. Am I being unreasonable in thinking that this represents a pretty shoddy approach to customer service on the part of TelstraClear?
I received an automated “courtesy call” from TCL last Friday…advising me that unless I paid an outstanding amount on my account that my services would be discontinued. That struck me as a bit heavy handed, and not very courteous – especially as my current invoice was sitting on my desk showing a typical monthly amount due to be paid next week and a couple of lines above showing previous charges having been met with an equivalent payment received – and a nice little “thank you”.
But obviously I’m not too keen on losing my Internet, phone and tv (although whether the T-Box qualifies as “service” is an ongoing debate elsewhere ). Only thing to do is phone up and try and speak to a real person who can tell me what’s going on. Flask of coffee and energy bars assembled on the desk, the call is made.
A mere 15 minutes later and I’m speaking to a real person who checks my account details and tells me it doesn’t look like there is anything to pay. Yup, that’s what my invoice seems to say. So he transfers me over to “Collections”.
Cutting a long story short – no, really this is the short version (any TCL customers will not need to hear the details of the ensuing 90 minute saga, it will be only too familiar), the Collections person advised me that it looked as though another customer had wrongly paid an amount against my account back in December last year, and that payment had subsequently been “reversed out”.
My reaction was, “Well if that’s the case I can hardly be expected to know about it. As far as I am concerned, you send me an invoice asking for an amount and I pay it. And that’s what I have done. So back to my original question as to why I am receiving an automated call threatening me with disconnection when this is the first I am hearing about a problem that is nothing to do with me.”
At this point, the Collections person asks if I would like to speak to his supervisor who can “help”. Foolishly agreeing, I end up effectively repeating the conversation, with the added bonus of the supervisor experiencing “system problems”, preventing him from checking my statements. But that’s fine, I have paper copies in the filing cabinet (some geek I am huh?)…which show invoiced amounts along with corresponding payments, the details of which I relay to him, repeating my point that as far as I am concerned I’ve paid what has been asked, so why am I receiving a call threatening to disconnect me.
The final straw is the Collections Manager offering that he is “happy to allow me an extension to pay the overdue amount…” Realizing that he and I have a different interpretation of “overdue amount” – i.e. I can’t consider something overdue until some point in time beyond which I have been asked to pay and failed to do so, a point not yet arrived at as I haven’t actually been asked to pay, I suggest this might be more of a Customer Service issue and I should probably speak to someone in that area. I asked for the name of the person responsible for Customer Service… and after a few minutes more of “on hold” music he had managed to uncover that obviously internally secret piece of information (apparently it’s a Richard Myers) and kindly (!) dropped me back into the automatic queuing system to await my opportunity to discuss the matter with “Customer Care”
My issue is not one of paying the amount TCL have discovered they never asked me for. As I explained to the CS rep (who, to his credit did seem to understand my argument), I would have preferred (and indeed considered it reasonable on the part of TCL) for them to have written to me (or at least had a real person phone me) to explain that they had stuffed up and actually they would like me to pay an amount they forgot to ask for three months ago, that they recognized that I had paid every invoice with which I was presented and to apologize for the inconvenience.
As they failed to do that, the least I now expect is a written apology for both being threatened with disconnection for their billing error, and for the unprofessional attitude of their Collections department.
This is what I requested of the CS rep and I actually got a follow-up call to discuss my complaint on Monday. However, this person immediately made reference to the “outstanding invoice” and failed to understand the point I was making.
The upshot of all this after speaking with her supervisor (another hour of my life gone by) is that I am now expecting a letter of apology along with a request for payment (which will be the first such request to be received) and an explanation of how the billing error occurred. Let’s see what actually arrives.
So, if you managed to stay awake through that, are my interpretations of invoices and expectations of courtesy reasonable and rational?