Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Review: TalkTalk Customer Services (and Bianca)


A few weeks ago I signed up to a TalkTalk broadband contract. A subcontracted engineer came and installed a phone line, but couldn't get the wire through the doorframe (it turned out to have metal inside and his drill wasn't suitable), so the wire had to go round the bottom of the door, between door and doorframe. Which was fine until I later tried to double lock the door with the second, lower deadlock, and couldn't, because the wire had pushed the door ever so slightly out of kilter.

I rang TalkTalk Customer Services the next day. Explained the problem, or tried to; the guy there didn't quite seem to understand, a little like he was unfamiliar with doors and locks, but anyway he said someone from the technical team would call me within 72 hours. I said it wasn't soon enough, but he assured me that most likely it'd be tomorrow morning.

Three days passed and nobody called.

Day 5, and I called again. This time I got Bianca at the TalkTalk Customer Infuriations Team. I explained what had happened so far. Her first move was to ignore the fact that nobody had called me back within 72 hours, or indeed within 120 hours. It was clear that Bianca had mastered the art of not giving a flying f**k.

There followed a lengthy discussion during which she repeatedly insisted that I'd have to pay £50 if I wanted to move the master socket (while I insisted that I didn't need to move the master socket), a mantra she interrupted only to occasionally inform me (in a tone of ill-disguised triumph) that no engineer would come at all unless there was a fault on the line. (Wait, what? So, the engineer will come [if I pay £50 to move a socket I don't want to be moved] and he also won't come at all, because I don't have a line fault?)

Rarely did she shut the f**k up for long enough to listen to what I was saying.  

Bianca was also possessed of that essential customer infuriating quality - the indefinable, incomprehensible foreign accent. I cannot guess as to the location of the TalkTalk Customer Infuriations Team, but it must be somewhere close to bus stops and supermarkets, because Bianca is  the sort of woman who likes to harangue people in queues for an imaginary slight.

In the end, having been successfully and thoroughly f**ked off in accordance with Customer Infuriations policy, and with no resolution in sight, I asked her to transfer me to her supervisor. She said there wasn't one, and that *she* was the manager. I asked for a call reference. She said there wasn't one. Then, after a bit more arguing, Bianca hung up the phone on me, at 17:38 on 20th March 2014 (specifics given for the benefit of Bianca's supervisor who I know exists, as Bianca is not the CEO of TalkTalk).

I rang back. Got a man who actually apologized for the initial non-callback, and told me I needed to contact BT OpenReach, as they're the contractor who installed the phone line (never mind that my contract was with TalkTalk...)

I rang BT OpenReach. Really helpful native English speaker, who immediately understood the nature of the problem. But he had no record of the installation. We eventually figured it out, that it had been a BT subcontractor (Kelly Communications) who'd done it, and that it was them I had to contact, failing which he said BT would sort it.

So I rang Kelly Communications, and quite unexpectedly encountered the customer services of one's dreams. I initially spoke to a girl on reception, who said she'd get someone to call me back. I didn't feel optimistic at that stage, but an hour later Stephan called, on his mobile, understood and apologized that he couldn't deal with it that afternoon (on a Friday - as if I'd ever expected a same day fix!). He said to call him on Monday, on his mobile, and he'd give me an appointment for that same day. On Monday morning first thing, Stephan's colleague at Kelly called me to arrange the appointment, but he hadn't even spoken to Stephan, it being a Monday morning - wires crossed, because emails had meanwhile been sent between Kelly staff about my problem. Stephan himself came that afternoon and fixed it. Wow!

In conclusion, five stars to BT OpenReach, Kelly Communications are full of win and awesome, and Stephan is a saint of Customer Services.

Whereas TalkTalk Customer Services suck, and Bianca sucks the hardest. It was only pure chance that I got a 'lead', after five days and three calls. It could've taken weeks before I happened to speak to someone with half a clue at TalkTalk.

I will concede that the TalkTalk broadband speed is fine and well-priced. No complaints there.

I suppose the crap Customer Services is a by-product of cheap broadband, but there's a limit, and Bianca embodies that limit; if there's an unusual problem, or a dissatisfied customer, or anything which requires intelligence to deal with, then you need to be able to pass the customer call to a supervisor, not leave it up to a thick, argumentative sow like Bianca. Also, if they say that someone will call within 72 hours, then someone should call.

It ought to be possible to break a service contract like this if the customer services don't provide the necessary support - breach of contract, surely?