You Cannot Be Serious ....?

Ahhh it’s Wimbledon you see and John McEnroe, well he was rather fantastic wasn’t he?  Sorry getting carried away, but you see this phrase that he epitomized was the first thing that sprung to mind when I heard some rather startling news just the other day.

My Mother has perhaps the last house in the UK without any sort of internet access and when visiting I have resorted to using the snigger-inducing device called a Dongle.  For those of you without intimate knowledge (tee hee) it’s just a large USB stick that has magical qualities allowing you to access a telecoms provider’s network – another thing that is quite brilliant, very much plug and play to your hearts content.

Only snag is of course it’s a tad expensive, convenience and speed always tend to be and you can only buy a limited amount of access at each sitting.  Sure you can “top up” when you run out but you can blow through quite a lot of dosh (money) doing so!

So my sister and I have been talking about getting broadband installed to my Mother’s, not that she will ever become a silver-surfer, but for our convenience.  My visits of weeks at a time and her 3-4 hourly stints waiting for Doctors, repair chaps, nurses etc etc.  It meant her time was put to good use and I could work when visiting.

We had talked about it in earnest the last time I was over in February.  So around mid-May time it seemed as though another visit from me was needed and I asked my sister to set the ball rolling with the provider.

The provider is a company that provides her electricity and telephone, because it’s all about bundling these days as we well know across the pond.  First of all they had to speak to my Mother over the phone to ensure she sanctioned it, even though my sister has power of attorney.  And I suppose this is a good thing and covers everyone’s backsides, although mostly theirs.  So this was duly done whilst my Mother was recovering in a five star hotel rehabilitation facility, poor thing.

This took about three weeks to accomplish, it wasn’t one phone call you see, it was about eight that my sister had to make to clarify the price, confirm the service required, understand the set-up process, the right person to handle the order and finally the actual getting said right person on the phone with my Mother.

This was achieved about 2 weeks prior to my visit, so my sister called having got all her ducks in a row, ready to place the order and here it comes …… she called the requisite department and was told “we are having our systems re-engineered and I can’t take your order.”


And when hearing this across the pond where it takes about 3 days to set up access, my words were “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS?” à la John McEnroe.  I think I might have included another word, but we’ll gloss over that for the moment.  I was quite stunned, I mean which company in their right minds says that anymore?  We cannot take your order, they might as well have said we don’t want your money.

They then proceeded to really outdo themselves and set themselves apart from any old provider by saying “if you call back in a week, we may be able to do it then”.

Are any of you familiar with the term “gobsmacked”?  Gob is a UK slang word for mouth so you get the gist of it.  I mean it is so wrong on so many levels

o   Customer service (or lack thereof) - not even a heartfelt apology or arrangement to call back, you can’t blame the individual they clearly haven’t been given the training or the tools to deal with the situation

o   Good business sense - doesn’t every service business need to be competitive and one way to distinguish yourself from your competitors is service

o   IT program management - these days “the system” does not need to be taken down for hours on end if you have competent project managers and IT professionals it’s more a question of hours than days

o   Business reputation - I suspect I am not the only one writing/talking/complaining about it

Plus also there is the effect it has on the three people involved, my sister whose blood pressure was probably raised, my fury and frustration across the pond and of course the poor customer service person who probably gets shouted at every phone call, because I bet if they can’t take orders they probably can’t do much of anything.

Maybe this is what happens when you get an electricity provider trying to dabble in telecoms, they are outside their core business, but honestly it doesn’t matter what you’re selling this is a standard business process ie taking orders and should never be compromised.

So John, know you’ve had a lasting effect as I watched you as a child in awe of your incredulous turn of phrase – it is a shame you didn’t have quite the same impact on my tennis skills but occasionally I manage to play a half decent game.

Enjoy Wimbledon – with my best wishes Sophie

P.S.  Yes I still have a Dongle darling

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