« Previous | Main | Next »

Customer service - have your say

Post categories:

Rob Unsworth - editor | 18:14 UK time, Monday, 27 April 2009

Fed up being stuck on hold listening to pan pipes music when you'd rather be speaking to a customer service assistant? Sick of repeating your postcode to a computer that can't understand your voice? Or simply had enough with shop staff who just can't be bothered?

We want to know about the things companies do in the name of customer service that drive you round the bend. Vent your spleen on the comments section below.

The Watchdog customer service questionnaire has now closed, but come back on Monday 4 May to see the results.

Note, we can only publish general comments about companies on this page. If you have a specific complaint about a company, send it in to Got a story? so that our story team can investigate on your behalf. You never know, it might appear on a forthcoming programme.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Loved Julia's suit, she looks amazingly hot in it! Haha, imagine that's my only comment on the show, didn't like the reflective rock too distracting. I think whenever a new Card such as The gas safe card is issued, that it should be available for people to research these things on a government website and notices at local post that too much to ask for?

  • Comment number 2.

    13 years ago my (ex) husband left us - I have been intermittently telling the local water company about his departure and asking them to remove his name from the water bills for all this time - to no avail. I have now given up!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I work in the retail sector and feel the need to defend my colleagues in the sector. A consideration of manners towards people who work in service industries wouldnt go a miss they are only trying to do a job and sometimes members of the public do think it is their god given right to treat people who work in service sectors like dirt.

  • Comment number 4.

    why are some call centres only compputer generated and you can't actually speak with a person. Changed our bank because of this reason and indian call centres, they got frustrated and so did i.

  • Comment number 5.

    For a week we had periods where the cable TV has no picture or sound at the same time as the broadband connection not working, not just this house but several houses in the street!

    Try as you might, it is impossible to get the advisor on the end of the phone to understand that there is a problem in the area and it is not the modem or the digital box but a fault elsewhere. Ring 151 and get a recorded message about engineering works in an area 20 or 30 miles away which has no effect on the area I'm in.

    Ring 150 and eventually get to talk to someone with a poor accent, poor headset connection that crackles or worse both a poor accent and poor headset, just to be put through to faults which just happens to be the recorded message about that engineering work 20 or 30 miles away!

    I eventually managed to arrange for an engineer to call and took time off work to ensure I was in, only to be left a message that there was in fact a fault in the area (Really!!!) and it had been fixed so the engineer that was to call round had been cancelled.

    I checked the TV and Broadband - It had not been fixed! It was still faulty, so now at boiling point a call to 150 to shout and scream until a supervisor after (supposedly) calling another department says that the engineer cannot be recalled but she would call me back this evening with a definite answer - 5 hours later still no call - what a shock! It was also very apparent that each department is using a different system as during one call I was told 3 versions of 'there is no reported problem, there is a problem and the problem has been fixed - and not even in that order. If [company removed] can't communicate with themselves how the hell are they supposed to communicate with their customers?

    But not to worry - my neighbours were also attacking the so called 'help' desks and eventually the services were restored. How long they remain is anybody's guess!

    All this could have been resolved with the first call 5 days ago if only the operator at the help desk were able to think outside of the box and actually listen to what was being said, that there was a problem in the area affecting several homes.

    Customer service at [company removed] is a joke! Why have 2 numbers when only one actually gets you anywhere. Why have separate help desks for TV, TV plus, broadband and telephone? They all have similar scripts, turn it off, turn it on, ping the modem, send a signal etc it's not rocket science!

  • Comment number 6.

    I think most people get annoyed at the service they receive from Call Centre staff. I have trained and recruited these people for many years and believe that they are not the problem.
    The problem is more about outdated mechanistic approaches to management. These include management by statistics and the use of targets which are not linked to the centre's purpose. In other words, they are based on cost and duration of call rather than call resolution and customer satisfaction.

    These ill conceived targets force agents to change their natural (helpful) behaviour - to hit targets, which means they are more likely to keep their jobs. Human social sysytems are complex and "managers" need to be trained as leaders, listen to their people and, with support and training (and especially trust) put decision making back to the front line and give customers a better experience.

    Customer service will only change when people are treated as people and not resources.

  • Comment number 7.

    I find that automated machines are one of my biggest bugbears.....

    BUT working on the otherside of the counter I have to say that some customers can be so rude, nasty and sometimes intimidating. I have been shouted out, spat at, called every name under the sun and even had a kettle thrown at me. Just today I was serving a customer and they didn't even notice I was there, and just grunted at me.
    Maybe we should get the respect we deserve as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    i work for a major supermarket.People always complain about poor customer service but nobody looks at it from the other side, when your in work for 9 hours or more and for the whole of that shift all you do is get abused and shouted at by customers who 'ARE IN THE RIGHT' usually pensioners(not so nice little old ladies)who believe the world owes them everything and more and occasionally know more foul language that i've ever heard and are not afraid to use it. At the end of the day the person working on the other side of the counter has no control over how the store or company operates and what a store can or cannot stock is beyond our control. We are prepared to listen and help but this does not mean that we are whipping boys. Some customers are frequently stupid and always seem to be angry, we are more prepared to listen if people are calm and realistic about their problem and a smile and a thank you goes a long way. Also why do people have to ask stupid questions. Yesterday a customer brought in a camera film to be developed, we do not develop films to which the customer said 'you sell film you should develop them' my answer to this was 'we sell ddog food however we do not sell dogs'

  • Comment number 9.

    I dont believe customer service is getting any worse, but I do think that customers expectations are getting higher. Although I would say that I have experienced some very rude representatives from banking phonelines.

  • Comment number 10.

    hi i work in a call centre fro a large mobile phone company and yes sometimes customer service may be bad but you haev to rememeber that customers on the end of phone lines are more likely to be aggressive and rude adn use foul language much more than they do face to face Also a lot of the customers demand d things that we can not do also a lot of the customers do not speak very good english and this can be very frustrating it is easier to understand a person face to face when they English is not their 1st language also i find the public to be rude and very demandin they do not realise that we are bound by policies and proceedures Also we get marked by our customers and this affects out wages so if a customer marks us badly then we do not get a bonus at the end of the month Every body has the right to good cutomer service but we in the call centre haev the right to be treated with respect Not to be told that "you only work in a call centre so obviously you have no brain otherwise you would work some wher else " or Do as i say i want it done now or a few expletives so fix it now It is not easy working in a call centre you have demands from the bosses and demands from the customers.

  • Comment number 11.

    I work in a callcentre in Fife taking calls from customers for a large media company.
    The past few months staff have come under increasing pressure to sell products to customers without proper training and can be penalised if thet do not make any sales.Staff also have all calls monitored and marked against certain criteria and must reach a score of more than 7.5/10 on each call.If you do not make the score over several weeks you will be spoken to by your manager and advised scores must be improved or further action will be taken.i.e sacked.

  • Comment number 12.

    We recently went into town to buy a games console, the only shop we received a commendable answer from was HMV. When we tried the shop assistant had to be asked to check stock levels. We decided to ask the question because we knew that there was a high demand for the product and it felt strange that he didn't instantly (like everyone else) seem to know his stock levels or even made the suggestion that he would check stock levels.

    Although the problem has now been rectified, I have never been more angry then when I have had to deal with a [company removed] direct customer services team. On one occasion it took close to 12 months for them to admit that they had not applied the correct discount to my account. They only admitted there had been a problem when I contacted the director of customer services.

    On another occasion (when I stupidly agreed to an upgrade) [company removed] again didn't apply the correct discount to my account and then insisted on saying I was lying when I tried to tell them what they had previously agreed to. They also said that because their flext tariffs had changed since I was told that I was to be given the discount they wouldn't apply the discount to my account. When I pointed out that they had failed to write to me to inform me of the changes, they said that it wasn't their responsibility to tell me of the changes!

    In my personal opinion the individuals employed don't care about the business they work for or the customers they serve. I think that companies are to blame for this and often it is the management who are not properly trained and therefore are unable to manage their teams or train the staff below them.

  • Comment number 13.

    Having taken pride in working in retail. It really saddens me that many people now do not. I go to my bank and they take pride in their work, but retail no. The Supermarket which claims every little helps might be raking in money but they are cetainly not spending it on staff training. Typical of my experience has been staff barging past to get somewhere, leaving trolleys so that you can not reach the goods or just standing around talking. When you complian there is nothing done about. I only go to this place when I really have to and would not go there if I did not. What a pity that we have gone backwards here, but then you see in fairness if you had asked where is the best customer service I would praise my bank because they are always helpfull all of the time, perhaps that would be an idea for a slot on the programme, Which is your best Bank?

  • Comment number 14.

    [Company removed] used to e-mail a survey asking if I was satisfied after phoning customer services with queries or to change services, that is until they got a bill totally wrong and refused to correct it blaming me for their errors and now as an "unsatisfied customer" I no longer get these surveys because they know I will rate them poorly. If they do this to all disgruntled customers this will distort their results unfairly showing them to be better than they actually are!

  • Comment number 15.

    Ah! Customer Service! I work in a Government "contact centre" where I answer the phone all day handling queries from the more senior members of the public. After two years of trying my utmost to give the customer service I am not only very skilled in but excel at - I have finally thrown in the gauntlet in despair. Not with the public nor the job I do but fed up with constant meetings and weekly pie-charts showing how I have taken too long listening to and speaking to frequently distressed callers. I solve the problem, I soothe their fears and worries but no - forget customer service - remember the statistics are FAR more important.
    Unfortunately, this story is wide-stretching. I have spent two whole months trying to sort out an accounting error by a company that only has call centres in India and I am receiving letters from debt collection companies. It is a real shame that shopping in whatever way has become a battle-field and very stressful - but at least I fight back!
    Customer Service is an art and a skill that HAS to be taught. I would love the chance to do just that - but no one seems interested.

  • Comment number 16.

    Customer service has all but ceased to exist.Whatever I telephone a so called customer service no.I am presented with numerous options which can take as long as 3/4 minutes to complete,all at my cost if the 0845,0870,etc.(OK if you are a BT customer but other providers still charge even if like myself you have an all inclusive call plan).I often find the options do not always cover the purpose of my call so I then get connected to someone (if I am lucky) who may or may not be able to assist me. Nearly every call I make of this nature results in me being put into a queue until someone answers me (again at my cost) and the amount of time spent queueing indicates to me that not enough staff are being employed to dealt with customer service. Even more annoying is the growing practice of asking you to call back later as no-one is available to take your call, this after being on hold,at cost,for a number of minutes.This situation would be more acceptable if the call was to an 0800 freephone no.,but in any event the whole question of customer service in this country leaves a lot to be desired.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello to you all at watchdog

    You asked for stories regarding customer service. Last autumn we went to Lanzarote and the flight times were changed by two hours, which necessitated taking an extra days leave. We did not know of the change until the tickets arrived. There was clearly an error in Thomas Cook's letter to us in Feb 2008, and we endeavoured to claim some modest recompense.

    That claim has paled into insignificance because of what followed. I have copied below the transcript from my letter to them dated 18th Dec 2008, sent recorded delivery (so we know they received it) and to date, not unsurprisingly, we have not received a response. We are out of pocket because of their bungling incompetence, they just don't seem to care!
    (I shall be unable to respond further for a while as I am about to go on the next holiday (though not with TC))
    Here is the transcript (with some anonymity provided):--

    "Firstly, regarding the above reference, we have received no further written communication from you despite a promise that you would endeavour to respond within 28 days. Has it been shoved under the carpet?

    Secondly we have put ourselves out to help you! I received a letter from you on 30th October addressed to a Mr ccccc at my address (Reference 22222222/ T333333T with a cheque attached for £61.00). This was very confusing and my wife tried on numerous occasions to contact you to see if this was our cheque or not. Shortly afterwards we received another letter from you dated 5th November (same reference) also addressed to Mr ccccc at my address but this occasion enclosed a cheque for Miss jjjjj for £100.00. It is likely that they are just as confused as we are.

    We put ourselves out to help you by phoning your telephone number 087001005969. This service is worthy of reporting to Watchdog, or OFCOM, because everytime you call, you have to listen to menu instructions for almost one minute, then finally you are told that there is no one available to answer your call and to “please ring again” - you are then abruptly cut off!! You will see from the attached phone Bill it took my wife 58 attempts to get through to you and only on two occasions did she actually speak to one of your people. The total bill for all these calls is £15.44

    When my wife eventually spoke to one of your advisors she was told that neither of the cheques were ours and that our complaint was being looked into. My wife complained about the amount of time and expense she had had to make to clear this matter up and she was told to send a copy of our bill to yourselves and that you would recompense us for these expenses. Each aborted call costs your customers 16p. This is where you can vastly improve your customer satisfaction by supplying an 0800 number so that all the aborted calls are costed to you, not your customers.

    I trust you will provide a satisfactory response to the outstanding correspondence, and that you will provide an ex gratia payment to cover these telephone calls and the need to write to you further, together with all the enclosures, on these matters."


  • Comment number 19.

    I hate it when some useless call centre customer services say they will do some thing that you have asked them to do, and no sooner you place the handset down you just know you have paid for some one to NOT do their job and your call was a total waist of time. I think we should be given a personal identification number for each operator we speak too so that if our query isn't dealt with correctly we can make an official complaint and that customer service operator will then get a bad mark against them, after 10 bad marks they get fired and some one who really will appreciate their job gets it. If your lie-in to your customers or simply just cant be bothered to do your job properly then you deserve to loose it. Do it or loose it. The final irritation that gets right on my nerves is when you phone customer services and you get some one who cant even speak English fluently with out some foreign accent that you cant understand and when you ask to speak to some one else more fluent in the English language they hang up on you as if its your fault they cant speak English clearly enough to be understood.

  • Comment number 20.

    Without exception the most annoying 'Customer Service' is having to deal with 'Offshore' ie non UK call centres. I have already changed my motoring organisation because of this and wish I could do the same with my Insurance company. My Internet provider is next on my list. This comment is not repeat not racially motivated but what's wrong with talking to people in our own country

  • Comment number 21.

    I have recently been made redundant by [retailer removed] in a restructuring programme allegedly designed to improve customer service. However, it is my opinion that this is merely a cost cutting exercise designed to save the company money. And this is on top of various cutting of staff over the past few years. So it is no wonder the levels of service we provided declined so much. This is another example of trying to run a multi million pound company on peanuts. The workload they place on staff has been, at times, intolerable and with the blame culture that exists there and the pressure put upon store managers to achieve such things as financial targets it is inevitable service standards will drop. While I recognise the need for any business to operate within financial contraints, surely customer service should always be at the top of their agenda. But, unfortunately, although they shout loud about it, the reality is that it is almost impossible to meet customers needs fully, and I know staff at all levels, from store managers down, are frustrated at the lack of time they are given to be able to help customers. Hence, the number of complaints rise unsurprisingly. There are , of course, plenty of people who should never have taken a career in retail as they are quite clearly not customer focused. But my general opinion, and I can only speak from my own experience, until retailers get away from this obsession with meeting targets in order to satisfy the shareholders then customer service will always suffer

  • Comment number 22.

    Rather than criticising customer service, I want to take the opportunity of praising it - or at least, the customer service received from one particular company. Having been pretty ill over the last eight months (numerous ops), I have to say that my health insurer - PruHealth - have delivered what I have described to many friends and colleagues as simply fantastic customer service. In a world of mediocrity, it was a pleasure dealing with this company over the phone, especially taking in to account my condition, and has helped prevent additional stress whilst being ill. They should be giving lessons to other companies as to how to handle their customers!

  • Comment number 23.

    My son lost his phone on Saturday whilst on a ride at a theme park in Surrey, he immediatley reported it to the ride steward. However, 2 days on, and still no contact from 'Guest Services', they don't even answer the phone. Having called at different times, and on numerous occasions, we have never managed to get through a person. I have left messages on their answerphone, but to no avail.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Poor Customer Service--Tiscali!! I have now changed my ISP after four and a half years with Tiscali, the last twelve months have been a most harrowing and frustrating experience.

  • Comment number 26.

    I booked to fly to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic on 17 March and booked the flight on line. Due to personal circumstances it was necessary to alter the departure to the previous day. For this I was charged £100 (for something that would take only seconds on a computer) plus £135 as they said there were no seats available on that flight for the fare I originally paid. Checking the seating availabilty on the Virgin website the night before departure, several seats were still empty. The aircraft departed less than half full. Trying to contact a person by telephone and Email upon my return to query the high extra charge, "no one was available". After three letters I at last received a reply which stated that there were no seats available at the fare I paid. The £100 charge was stated to be common throughout the industry - I believe BA only charge £50. Virgin have lost a customer !

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Last week a group of us went to [company removed] in Hatfield for a lunchtime leaving do. They had been told we had to be in and out in an hour and they agreed to do it. The service was appalling and food only arrived after 45 minutes. One poor chap had to go back to the office and asked if he could have his Spaghetti Bolognese to take away. They put it in a cardboard Pizza box, in a pile, with no other wrapping. People were left ages waiting for drinks, some asking three or four times. When we complained things just slowed down and what should have been a happy farewell occasion turned into a wake. And then... They couldn't do bills at the table so we all had to queue up and pay individually and they couldn't use more than one till at a time - so I waited 20 minutes to pay for the worst service I've had in a restaurant in 30 years. In fairness they did reduce the bill, but on the basis of the service they should have been paying me to be there!

    Just like many other things I fear that lowering standards have come across the water from the USA . America was the home of the customer service revolution of the 1980's but when I was in New York in 2006 I couldn't believe how surly and rude the customer service had become. I'm still waiting for a reply to an email I sent to a Mexican restaurant in Manhatten that kept me waiting over an hour for a table I had booked!! Looks like it's spreading

  • Comment number 29.

    I am really, really fed up with firms who never answer my emails!

    When I have a problem with a product I prefer to go direct to the manufacturer in the hope that somehow what I have to say will improve matters in the future.

    I look on the packet or on their website for a contact email address (usually Customer Services) and I expect to receive a reply within a couple of days. If there is none within a couple of weeks or so then I try again. I believe that webmasters create addresses but many firms either don't know there is an email address advertised, or they simply don't have anyone checking the incoming mail.

    Recently I contacted the same firm twice and had no reply. The first time I used the address on the packet, the second time I used the one on the website. In the end, I forked out for a postage stamp and sent by snail mail. I did get a reply then, but no explanation for why the emails weren't answered!

    Why should we have to pay for a phone call or stamp when we have paid for goods that weren’t up to scratch?

    On the plus side I find that supermarkets are very good at replying and putting right any problems. Top marks go to Waitrose!

  • Comment number 30.

    We all complain about poor service but I recently had outstanding service from two companies; Wilkinsons and Pet Porte Limited. On both occasions I had faulty goods but Wilkinsons immediately gave me a refund and said I was welcome to try and repair the light and then keep it. Pet Porte gave me a replacement straight away and reduced my bill!

  • Comment number 31.

    Section 4 and 3 on who you have had problems with could have ticked a few boxs not just one

  • Comment number 32.

    As a retail manager over the past 14 years, I have seen a constant decline in the standards of "common sense customer service" Why ? I have always trained my staff to deliver the very best in customer service, customer care and customer focus, and have had a lot of recognition and award for this.
    However I am tired of going in my local shops and the busy london high street stores, and seeing absolutely disgusting standards of service, and the only anser I can give for this is very simple, the staff arent trained, monitored, and coached propperly ! and therefore arent being led or managed efficently.
    In America, I have seen the very best in customer service, they work very hard for their money, and show appreciation for doing so. In Spain, France and Hungary and especially including language barriers the srvice I have seen far outshines the drivvle we see in the united kingdom.
    I just cant understand why its only a handful of die-hard managers who are trying to do something about it. I have proven methods and ways to keep the service impeccable ALL of the time, why cant others ?

  • Comment number 33.

    I'd say the worst company ever for poor customer service has to be BT I have had no end of problems with them at all, and when you go onto the phone you feel you are speaking a completely different language to the agent on the other end only to be passed to same department you were at to begin with explaining the same issues you are having over and over again, do these people never communicate with each other? It could save a lot of time, effort and may I add money if they could actually string a sentence together.

    On an up-side though I have recently had dealings with 02 as have taken out their broadband package as late and must admit the Customer Service was fantastic, well trained friendly staff, good at explaining and will leave out all the jargon and make it more simplified without sounding condescending and making you feel stupid like some of these companies do.

  • Comment number 34.

    More and more services offer inefficient and poor service. Whether it is because the staff do not care or are badly trained I find it frustrating and most annoying to deal with customer service.
    The work force in the UK is becoming less competent and hard working, taking little pride and satisfaction in their jobs.
    Complaints about immigrant workers taking UK jobs are petty as from my experience those choosing to work in the UK are efficient, well-mannered and incredibily hard working.
    From Government to shop floor workers - take pride in what you do and be prepared to work for an honest days pay!

  • Comment number 35.

    I recently finished paying off my mortgage. 2 days before, I rang to ask what happens. Was told 1) we see if you owe us £50 or £150, 2) land registry hold your deeds, here is code number, write and ask for them. 3) Ring 2 days time & check mortgage finished. I rang. 1)No fee to pay 2) They will write to land registry . I then had £220 credited to my account of interest owed to me. How on earth do you know who to believe? This sort of thing happens weekly.

  • Comment number 36.

    The worst customer service I have received is from [company removed]. I used them everyday to send parcels out from my place of work. There were delays, failures to pick up etc and all I would get is "We are sorry but we can assure you this won't happen again" but it keeps happening.
    I am gradually switching to UPS who are absolutely fantastic.

  • Comment number 37.

    BT rang me to see if I wanted to go to Option3 for my phone & broadband bill. I pointed out that I was already on Option3 and had been for the last 3 years. I was told that their record showed I was on Option2, so would I phone a landline number and sort it out !!

    I told her that on no account would I spend time and money sorting out their problems, why was I being expected to do their job for them? Have not heard anything since

  • Comment number 38.

    Have they got a problem with their systems or something at the minute because they have been messing me around for over a month now.

    I first ordered a phone line, BT broadband option 3 with the home hub and hub phone and BT Vision bronze pack at the end of March. It is now coming up to May and I still don't have everything I ordered.

    They lost my original order, then when they finally did put the broadband order through they only sent out the home hub and not the phone to go with it. I was again promised that the phone would be sent out and I should get it today, it is now 12noon and it still hasn't arrived!??!

    I was promised another call to confirm my vision order and sign up to the package I wanted but guess what....still nothing. Do they actually want my custom?

    Many hours have been spent calling their call centre being passed from one department to another and nobody seems to know what the other person has processed or said to me. I had to call them from my mobile - I would have used the hub phone but I don't have it - and have been charged almost £15 on top of my monthly bill.

    Five times I have had to order everything and they still can't get it right.
    Anyone thinking of signing up to them at the minute beware!!!

    I haven't even been offered an apology, at the minute one of the worst customer service experiences ever!

  • Comment number 39.

    I have a toddler and an small baby. I used to always doing my grocery shopping at Tesco out of habit and also because it's the closest supermarket to my house. I find the staff at my local store are normally surly and unhelpful. Recently, while shopping at Tesco with my children, my baby began crying just as I got to the checkout. I loaded my shopping on the conveyor belt and waited (impatiently as my baby was crying) for the woman on the check-out to acknowledge me and begin scanning my items. There was no customer in front of me but the woman continued chatting to a colleague and made me wait. When I could wait no more, I interrupted her by drawing her attention to the fact that my baby was crying and I was in a hurry. I didn't say anything in any way rude, just "Excuse me, I'm in a hurry." She glared at me and didn't say anything. As I pushed my trolley away after paying I heard her complaining about me to the customer behind me.
    In contrast to this experience, on the Tuesday before Easter I shopped at Morrison's, which also has a store near me. Again, my baby began crying just as we reached the check-out. A Morrison's staff member came over and asked if I would like her to put my groceries on the conveyor belt while I calmed the baby. Then she packed my shopping for me and even pushed my trolley out to the car for me so that I could console my crying baby. What a difference to Tesco! I have shopped exclusively at Morrison's ever since.

  • Comment number 40.

    The radio buttons on the questionnaire should have been check boxes as:
    Mobile phone companies especially 3 are useless due to costly waits and inability to do anything not on their script.
    Utility companies multiple choice can have everything except for what I am calling about (lostkey card).
    Banks, finance and insurance companies trying the hard sell on what you do not want


  • Comment number 41.


    See the comments I made against mobile phone companies and their mis-selling on of disputed debts on your site.


  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    The thing that drives me mad is trying to phone a company to sort something out and them trying to sell you something else. I have actually told [company removed] for instance, that I dont expect to get a hard sell if all I've phoned them for is to say I can't remember my PIN and can I have another. You mostly want your query sorted out if you've gone to the trouble of phoning anybody. Hopefully firms will get the message!

  • Comment number 44.

    so every post since 8pm last night is still waiting moderation...commenting about a blog discussing customer couldnt make it up !!!!
    i was actually going to ask someone in the watchdog team to take a look at nick reynoldsposts on the pov website that he has all but closed down if they wanted evidence of dreadful customer service...but theyn dont even need to leave their own blog to find it !!!

    [Note from Watchdog: Thank you for your comment. Comments to the Watchdog website are legally contentious and need to be carefully moderated. Due to this and the large volume of responses to the programme on Monday 27 April, we have been unable to publish comments immediately. Best wishes, web team]

  • Comment number 45.

    My best and worst customer service experiences:

    WORST: This was with BT. They overcharged me hundreds of pounds and I was consistently put through to an Indian-based call centre where I had great difficulty in understanding accents. It took weeks and a good deal of persistence to get the problem sorted. I was so annoyed I promised never to use BT for telephony and, so far (a year later), I have made only 0800 calls using BT.

    BEST: Words can't really describe the excellent customer service I have had at my local Apple Store. I once took a (non-Apple) drive back to find out when the warranty expired as I wasn't sure whether I'd had it more than 12 months. Staff couldn't find my purchase on their system but immediately replaced the defective drive with a new (and better) one. It seems the staff are well trained and they're certainly very knowledgeable ... I hope the ideas and their ways of working catch on.


    Costco ... another US company. They have exchanged/refunded items for me even after warranty expiry and they don't ask why - just whether or not the product works.

  • Comment number 46.

    I find that customer service is really poor all over the place. A particular irritation is when you go to a shop to buy something you could have bought over the internet (often computer peripherals or audio equipment) because you want to actually see if the thing is suitable before you buy it, and staff act like you are being totally unreasonable for expecting to see what you are getting before you shell out maybe £200 or £300 for i. Often they tell you that they can't open the box.

    Another irritation is websites for utilities etc that hide the details of their help line, then when you have found it and been through all the automated telephone rubbish you get to a recording that tells you it isn't open except during some limited hourswhich they could have listed on the web page in the first place! I don't mind overseas call centres as such but I have called help lines where the person on the other hand has been unable to understand English, let alone speak it - surely |English language is the main qualification for the job - the worst cases have all been on-shore centres with immigrant staff. BT is one of the worst - virtually impossible to contact by phone

  • Comment number 47.

    Bank staff seem to be becoming less welcoming and more irritable with customers, just when they should be making every effort to improve their image they seem to be determined to anger the public even more. Supermarket staff don’t seem to care less and never know anything when asked for help. Call centres appear to be staffed by salesman only interested in hiding their best deals in favour of more expensive ones. High street shop staff just want to overcharge on everything so they an get the best commission. It says it all really. This country is finished. I’m leaving the UK, taking my invention, my skills, my experience and my wealth with me and moving to a fairer and friendlier society that isn’t obsessed with conning everyone else.

  • Comment number 48.

    Though there is a certain level of politeness here, people in stores, with utility companies, and in other professions are poorly trained in the UK, and therefore MANY mistakes are made and customers are hardly ever compensated for the time and money they've spent. Perhaps it's cultural not to confront or complain (in person, at least), and therefore everyone knows they can get away with shoddy service. I've lived in several other countries (China for example, where everything was broken), but it didn't bother me as much since life was as EXPENSIVE! No concept of you get what you paid for here, it's just all the same crap.

  • Comment number 49.

    That B and W photograph showing a reporter interviewing a customer. Was it taken in the 1950's?

    [Note from Watchdog: The image used on BBC homepage to promote the Watchdog British customer service featured a London housewife talking about her preference in butter. A programme broadcast on the BBC Danish Service surveys the demand for butter in Britain where butter rationing ends on 8th May 1954. Best regards, web team]

  • Comment number 50.

    Customer Service complaints?? Can someone please tell Abbey that their staff need to LISTEN to customers? I rang them recently to ask them to send me a form. Simple. NOT. They insisted on asking numerous security questions, including the exact date my account was opened. I explained that the account is nearly 40 years old therefore in all honesty, I don't know the date it was opened. I just wanted them to send me a form, to the address they've held for over 20 years. It took THREE extremely lengthy phone calls. Yes they've now apologised, and given me £10 by way of an apology but do you know what? I'd rather have had no hassle in the first place. Why can't such companies treat each call/visit on an individual basis, rather than spewing out the same rubbish to each customer regardless of the nature of the enquiry??

  • Comment number 51.

    Customer services, more often than not, is something that a company thinks it does because it has a department called... customers services. But on the whole I think that it's another symptom of the retreat of companies from the high street, expansion of the internet and a few management consultancies who own mega call centres (often in India) and who advise their clients to migrate customer services to them (talking super intelligent graduates in the colonized country and turning the poor souls into automaton). Would you give a damn? Can I just put you on hold?....

  • Comment number 52.

    I have dealt with Sony's Playstation Customer Care line twice over the phone in the last two years and the greatest problem they have is they give their workers litte or no authority to the point that it is now well regarded that to get anywhere you must bypass the first person who essentially are a 'sorry but no' person, you must make multiple calls and you must speak to a supervisor. People with hardware faults are paying upto £145 at times yet those who persevere and show immaculate patience are having the same faults out of warranty fixed for free but the services offered and given are so inconsistant. I also worked for 12 months in a call center and the focus there was how many calls you could take, keeping the call times down to enable you to take more calls but the be all and end all standard for a customer service advisor was pure and simple - Sales.

  • Comment number 53.

    My worst experiences have all been with banks/credit card companys, [company names removed] being the worst culprits!

    [Company name removed], the lovely online credit card company, drove me to distraction recently after i called to change my direct debit details, they then put in the new sort code but put in the wrong account number, so obviously it bounced.

    Then i got charged a nice non payment charge from them (even though it was their fault)

    When i called to complain, after getting passed from person to person, they eventually agreed to refund the long as i paid them the charge first...then they would refund it onto my credit card.

    I refused as i didnt see why i should pay them the charge when it wasnt even my fault, and after an hour on the phone, they threatened further charges for each month i didnt "bring the account up to date" (even though the only thing outstanding was their charge for their error!) andlegal action if i didnt pay it and terminated the call. I then had to pay THEM the charge, for them to refund it! ridiculous!!!!

  • Comment number 54.

    I think tarring all aspects of customer service with the same brush is far too general; when I worked in retail the recruitment methods and training I invested in my staff were with the sole intent of providing good service so this shouldn't be diluted by peoples opinions of someone in a call centre.

    My response towards those who deliver poor service is to not go back to that particular establishment, although this is not listed as an option on the questionnaire. I neither complain or put up with it, so I feel those like me who vote with their feet are being ignored and therefore those from the service sector who will undoubtedly watch the programme to find out how to improve will miss this vital point.

  • Comment number 55.

    Customer service in the UK is an oxymoron. This is the land of "not my job" and no one wants to go out of their way to do anything more then they have to. Sad.

  • Comment number 56.

    I work on the customer service desk at a national retailer. I would like to point out the policies are not made up by the person talking to you in the store, we are only following the rules that the management at head office have put down.

    I am fed up with being shouted at by rude people who haven't kept their receipts and want money back on products that either aren't faulty or have been broken by them!

    I had a customer trying to return a mobile phone who had actually managed to crack the plastic screen on her mobile, not just break the lcd screen, by dropping it. She told me it had been dropped. She then kicked off big time when she was told she couldn't get a refund.

    She waited for me outside the shop and verbally abused me and would have attacked me but a couple of the guys I work with stepped in.

    I do not get paid to take this and I am fed up with being treated like something people scraped off their shoe because I work in a shop!

  • Comment number 57.

    Hello all,

    First of all I am very angry with people complaining about Indian call centers, one such person who left a comment was "nuttybongo64" , i would like to tell him/her and all others out there why the call centres are in India.

    First thing you want a free number to call the call centre and do not wait before being served, neither want to listen to an automated system which guides and helps with the query.

    Secondly people working in call centres in any country other than India demand a lot of money.

    So before criticizing the Indian call centres think of yourself
    if you are a user are you ready to pay money to call the customer service???

    If you are a customer service agent are you ready to work at the wages Indian customer service agents get????

    So this should explain you why the call centres are in India.

    I have worked in major call centres in UK while I was in University, I rarely used to get callers who think I am in India, but received many callers who used to praise the way I dealt with them, this makes it clear that it's not the location which matters it's the training provided matters.

    Next time if you are in a position where you are through to the Indian call centre and if you do not like the service talk to a team leader give them the feedback then and there.

    And if you happen to be satisfied then praise the advisor if you do not have time to talk to the team leader.

    A note to the readers of this message I am not offensive to anyone, but if you still think to register a complaint against me do it by all means but just think have you done the same with the other person who left the comment as i mentioned earlier??? if not why????

    And the same applies to the Admin if you do not want to post my message, then think who and why has approved that users comment.


  • Comment number 58.

    Bad service:
    - Shop assistants too busy chatting with colleagues to help. (the biggest supermarket in the UK and women's clothes shops are the worst at this.)
    - Shop assistants who don't smile, say "hello", or make eye contact
    - Mobile phone operators who have several departments who don't talk to each other, who give misleading information and who display general incompetence (for example, I received three letters on the same day, about the same issue, from the same company, who I will refer to as Vanmobile Storageplace, all had different contact telephone numbers - one of which was disconnected - and all gave different advice).

    Conversely, I have experienced not just good, but excellent service from:
    - First Direct. The first person you talk to can usually help. It's a real person 24 hours a day. They have UK call centres, so the reception is good. They are proactive at telling you about things that can save you money. Online banking is easy; it's a shame that when you do need to use a branch, it's HSBC, who don't operate a cashier service on Saturdays or employ enough counter staff during the week.
    - Game. The staff are knowledgable and helpful. They are happy to make recommendations and give opinions. More staff would be nice (queues are always too long), but overall they are very good. Staff used to be quite patronising to women shoppers, but that has changed for the better in recent years.
    - BUPA. The helpline is very good. The staff are polite, efficient and helpful and I always comment on how pleased I am with the service.
    - Transport For London information line. The operators are polite, experts in their fields and always tell me what I need to know. They also give useful information - more than is asked of them. The website is also very customer friendly.

    I do complain when service is bad, but I also seek out managers and write letters when the service is good. A little praise goes a long way and people in shops are delighted when head office tells you that a customer has singled you out for a good job.

    Top tip: Praise more (and then hopefully we'll have to complain less!)

  • Comment number 59.

    I have to agree with "retailmgr" I run a restaurant and there is definately such a thing as a bad customer. Most people wouldn't believe the appaling behaviour we sometimes have to put up with. I think the majority of employees in the service industry really care about doing a good job. If there is a genuine problem we do want to help you, but we are NOT there to be abused or treated as slaves. Too many members of the general public forget this. In general I think service is slowly improving, but then again we are a nation of moaners.

  • Comment number 60.

    I work in a supermarket and whilst I try to help customers as often and as well as I can, the attitude of some of my colleagues frustrates me. The store I work at is particularly large (45-50 aisles) and can be a bit of a labrynth for any potential customers. So it is annoying to see my colleagues often shrugging off queries from customers and passing off lame excuses like "its not my department" before walking off without saying another word. I do apologise to anyone whose been in this situation but we're not all bad! :)

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    I work in a call centre with 2 other girls. We have 'Quote of the Day'. This is a piece of paper, printed off with a quote from a customer to one of us. The current one reads: ' OH ISN'T IT AMAZING HOW I CAN DIAL A NUMBER FOR THE BRANCH DIRECTLY AND GET THROUGH TO SOMEBODY WHO DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!?'. This quote was taken by me from a woman I spoke to. She said this after me just simply answering the phone 'Good afternoon, Booking Line, Laura speaking, how can I help?'

    I love my job and hat I do, but its sad that the only part that I hate with a passion, is the part where I have to answer that dreaded phone and speak to those horrible, uptight, rude, self obsessed, degrading, depressing, ill-mannerd people that are the public. I try to do a good job, but it is hard to do this when there is a constant battle with the customers just to gain their respect.

    Please and thank you seem to be non-existant in this world nowadays. This isn't every customer, some are polite and kind but the other 99% are the ones that give Customer Service a bad name.

    We need a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T in this world!

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    I am lucky that where I live we have only a few national chains and plenty of individually owned shops. I always complain if I am not satisfied and conversly write when I have received good service. Generally I am very happy with the level of 'service' I get however, like most people, hate the overseas call centres. They might be well trained and well educated but there is a big gap in their understanding of life here in the UK. I phoned BT with a query about moving the place where my phone comes into the house from my bedroom to my kitchen to be closer to my computer. I was asked if these two rooms were in the same house and when I asked if the price quoted inculded VAT; he didn't know. I was eventually told it would be cheaper to have a local contractor to the work rather that BT. This is illegal. Having spent ages going through endless automated choices to finally reach someone in India I gave up. Now I only do business with companies with guarenteed UK call centres. These seem to be increasingly available.

  • Comment number 65.

    I purchased an item from an online company in February for my holiday in March. It was a swimwear item and on holiday the stiching on the item came apart on the bikini bottoms. I retuned and contacted the company (bikini shack) via their website, after over a week still had no reply so sent an email from my hotmail account to them and was told they never received my initial email via there website! I have had a ridiculous number of email conversations and received appauling customer service and still over a month later still have the faulty item and was told to never shop with them again yet they wont refund my money if I return it and they deem it faulty but give me a credit note to buy more. I asked for an exchange for like for like but they dont have one, so I asked for a refund and they refuse to do this. I am sure they are selling seconds and am sick of it taking up so much time, I feel the company is deliberately trying to delay things so I get fed up, they keep the money I paid and I am stuck with a faulty item. I have had some unbelievable emails which are frankly disgusting and on their website they have no contact number and no terms on faulty items....I have now been told this evening after over a month of trying to sort this the reason they wont refund me is because of the time that has passed, a joke I feel when I have been trying to sort it and they have made it go on for so long, the simple result would be refund my money and close it but they wont. If you can help on this, I would appreciate it

  • Comment number 66.

    I have problems dealing with call centres in India. Mainly due to communication issues, on one call I repeated my details 5 times and was then told I would be called back in 15 minutes, 2 days later,still no call. I also hate talking to someone who's obviously reading a script and has to go through the same details every call. To the HEAD MANGER OF EVERY CALL CENTRE I'm a customer of your company, you make money out of me. Please treat me just as you would want to be treated. THANK YOU

  • Comment number 67.

    My wife has just returned from the Tesco Extra at Cumbernauld Town Centre , absolutely fuming and livid about the shocking customer service she received there , having returned a lemon meringue pie which failed to cook properly when done as per pack instructions. My wife hadn`t taken the receipt with her , but pays by debit card and always uses her customer loyalty card to purchase goods from the store , both of which can be used to verify a purchase if required , however the staff member was very belligerent , not to mention downright rude to my wife who just wanted her money back for a product she has been unable to serve to friends as it did not cook properly. To add insult to injury the customer service staff tried to argue over the cost of the item refusing to refund but saying it would have to be exchanged and expected my wife to run all over their shop checking prices which they had got wrong telling my wife she owed money , which she did not , proven on confirmation with another member of staff that DID actually know prices unlike their customer services . A complaint to a manager within the store about the staff , proved useless and my wife left the store utterly infuriated by the attitude of both staff and management . It has to be said that this is the norm for this store with customer complaints about pricing , quality of goods or requests for goods being ignored and several items actually being more expensive at this store than other Tesco store branches in a local area of about 10 - 20 miles. Couple this to the fact that this store is ALWAYS first to push up the price of fuel in the area and you can imagine that shopping at this Tesco store is not always the best experience , in fact it seldom is !

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Re my comment #41 above - refered to moderators, why?

    There are many frustrations that come to mind recently (past 12 months) relating to the teflon shoulders of "Charlies' Workers" and their teflon shoulders over mis-selling. Then the script by the 3 call centres I have had to deal with.

    I have had praise for several companies/employees when I have received good service by using a "Thank You". If I get poor service as a customer then I stop my custom with that establishment/company.
    Comet & GE Finance poor, Currys & HFC excellent with my Xmas present. One could not provide me the right service and the other went above and beyond and met my full requirements.
    B&Q coal face good, some backroom staff and delivery department communications poor. Those at coalface can do without annoyed customers having a go when they cannot help.


  • Comment number 70.

    I work in a call centre in the UK as a Customer Advisor, not cold calling but informing when the call comes in, I and my colleagues are highly trained in what we do and are constantly attending training courses on changes that are being made, we have to deal with targets and stats that are set by the company we are contracted to work for. The hardest thing about my job is receiving the abuse and negativity from the people we deal with when they think that rules should be changed to suit them. We deal with these calls with patience and professionlism even though we sometimes feel as though we would like to retaliate, after all we are people with feelings and do not appreciate being sworn at. Why is it that as we are at the end of the telephone as opposed to face to face people think they can be as rude as they like and we as people do not take that to heart? I can assure you it is not for the money but for most of us we enjoy the calls where we actually get thanked for the assistance we give. Please think about what you say.

  • Comment number 71.

    I also feel the need to defend retail employees, i work face to face with consumers for a certain financial institution and understandably, i have had a rather hard time as of late.
    I would like to clarify though for all those angry people out there that i personally have not brought down the economy of the country. I also have no control over interest rates.Data protection is there for a reason. I am unfortunatly not prepared to break the law, risk my job and 5 years in prison because you want to know how much money is in your wifes account.
    I would also just like to make it perfectly clear that i am not sitting behind the counter purposfully trying to make your life difficult. I have no interest in any threatening behaviour you may show towards me.
    I am always happy to help anyone who is reasonable and prepared to talk to me like i am a human being, believe it or not i am not there to upset you, i genuinely want to help!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator][Personal details removed by Moderator]The [company removed] Catalogue online is poor. On 23rd November 2007, I ordered a Toshiba laptop and warranty online (all but one of my orders were placed online) for my husband as a Christmas present which, according to Freemans website, would be delivered in 10 days. I received written confirmation of this. Two weeks later I called to chase up my order and was promised a call back.
    I called again on Monday 17th December and spoke to a, I felt rude operator who claimed [they] could not be held responsible for delays and constantly interrupted me. They claimed they could only fax Toshiba as [they] do not have manufacturers phone numbers. I asked to speak with a Supervisor but my requesst was refused on the basis that Supervisors do not speak with customers so, angry and frustrated, I hung up.
    I called again on the 18th, but again [they] still had no information regarding expected delivery.
    On 20th December, I sent a letter of complaint recorded delivery. I received no response.
    I called again and again, still with no news. I was told that I would receive 20% discount for my inconvenience and the purchase put on Buy Now, Pay January 2009.
    I finally received the laptop on 23rd January 2008 over six weeks later than promised. I called [them] as requested, so they could apply the above. I was then told I would only receive 10%, not 20% discount.
    The next order I placed late January, the courier lent on my front door handle and accidentally opened the door. She then decided to let herself in to deliver my items! I immediately complained to [the catalogue company] who put me on hold and spoke to the courier who said my front door was wide open! She changed her story when I spoke to her directly and could not stop apologising. All this happened within an hour of leaving hospital after major surgery. I was assured that a letter of apology would be sent the following week. Considering their previous lack of response and customer service, I am not at all surprised that to date, I have received nothing.
    Foolishly I also ordered a cooker from them April 2008 on Buy Now, Pay Later (February 2009). Again [they] failed to process the relevant code and invoiced me for it the following month. After numerous emails and phone calls, it was finally amended but not after being subjected to abusive staff. After one call where yet again frustrated with not being listened to and constantly interrupted, I hung up. Within seconds my phone rang and it was the same female member of staff I had just spoken with. She hurled abuse at me, then hung up when I responded with, "How dare you..." Just long enough to hear my reaction. I immediately called back and demanded to speak with a Supervisor. Low and behold, it was the same person again. This time however she mysteriously behaved very differently and denied EVER speaking with me, let alone telephoning me back! Absolutely appauling how they believe this sort of customer service is acceptable. I wrote and called again to complain. After weeks of chasing with their "typing department" (yeah, right) I received a standard apology letter, but only after offering to drive over 200 miles to receive the apology in person!

  • Comment number 73.

    I completely agree with mumbleschap (posted 8.12pm, 27th April 2009) and Pyawackett (posted 8:33pm on 27 Apr 2009). It is all about figures and statistics and no longer has anything to do with actual service.
    I used to work in a Government benefits call centre. Even the managers state it's "not how it used to be" as customer focused service has slowly been replaced with call targets. Those who get through large numbers of calls are praised by staff, whereas I used to receive positive comments and praise from customers which holds higher ground in doing my job well as far as I'm concerned. There's far more satisfaction in hearing praise from the customer instead of being congratulated by managers on taking 60, 70, 80+ calls per day as it meant the department took 'X' amount of calls that week. So what! If you hurry people off the phone, chances are they will call back again anyway to rectify or attempt to resolve their issue again!! What's the point in that?!

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    I was astonished by the report on the Water Authorities, it tantamount to theft or robbery. Time all was stamped on and the Water Companies brought in line with other companies, no one should be out of pocket if someone else responsible for damage or wrong payments. After all if we the customer were to have NOT paid sufficient I bet the Water Authority concerned would be quick to gain ALL its money back, or if we damage part of their network of pipes they would be looking to us for compensation and getting it.

    Why not the other way round, it appalling.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    I am about to move address and thought I would ring a certain phone provider (unfortunately only one still seems to have a monopoly) to tell them to cancel my account in a months time. They made a mistake however and cancelled my account immediately. I have made numerous phone calls and emails to try and rectify this. I have now had to explain the problem 9 times and still they seem incapable of doing anything about it. It's getting to the point of farcical.
    This is the first utility I have had to contend with - I suspect that there is plenty more fun customer service ineptitude to come.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think the worst place is [car dealer removed]. I took [car model removed] in there for a knocking noise and was told it's a common issue due to bad design but I would still have to pay to get it fixed! The guy in front of me asked to speak to a mechanic but was told they were too busy to talk to customers and you would have to deal with the services manager. He was then told that if the manager didn't know the answer to the query then it was tough! When I went back to my car you could see the mechanics just standing around chatting. Not buying one of their cars ever again.

  • Comment number 79.

    When i first had my contract i had people phoning me up for insurance, which id already taken out from another source. Now my phone is due for an upgrade i keep getting this company from swansea phoning me up and saying they are the leading marketing (whatever)for all the leading mobile companies. He said my phone was due for an upgrade, i said i wasn't interested and he said have u been speaking to the dalailama!!! How rude!!

  • Comment number 80.

    In my earlier bad service/good service post, I forgot to praise the internet company The service that they provided was excellent. My engagement ring was ordered just after Christmas and despite their office being mainly closed during that time, customer services called to say that although the diamond specification I wanted wasn't available, I could have one that was bigger and of a better colour (although with slight inclusions) for the same price.

    The website is very good, the staff are polite, helpful and well-informed and the product is excellent - delivered with certificate of authentication, insurance report and a guarantee that it is not a 'blood diamond'.

    Also, (they make bouquets that look like flowers, but are baby clothes) have been brilliant. I sent a gift to someone who had moved house. Not only did the company go back to the house, collect the gift and redeliver it, but they did it all for free, on their own initative and called me to let me know what had happened. They definitely went the extra mile.

    Good service is out there and it's nice to have an opportunity to tell others about the excellent experiences, as well as the terrible.

  • Comment number 81.

    Shoud a customer forgo his/her consumer rights & comply with customer service asistants so as to make their job easy?
    Not at all,if one chooses to work with the public,i believe that individual should develop an attitude that's suited to this position.
    Recently i wanted to purchase a jacket at my local peacock shop and received a tongue lashing from the cashier ,after i simply asked for better change and not the heap of coins she wanted to give me.She then shoved those coins in my hand and walked away from the till,stating she could not be bothered with this.Furious ,i asked for a refund.It is this kind of attitude that will cause shops such as the above to lose customers.And everybody knows we're in a recession and retailers need every penny they can get.

  • Comment number 82.

    Amazing. How can 2 ISP's be slagged off and NAMED but one cannot? RE. blog 14, Company name removed, blog 74 referred to moderators, blog 25 Tiscalli named and numerous criticisms of BT. Surely this is unfair and biased. Remove all company names or print all for a level playing field.

    [Note from Watchdog: Thank you for your comment. We aim to publish comments unedited, however, the company name or personal details are removed if the comment is highly defamatory or if it has been referred to our lawyer and/or the Watchdog story team for further investigation. Best regards, web team]

  • Comment number 83.

    As a telecomms person myself, and a hater of all things to do with call centres, Automated Voice Response (AVR) systems and foreign telephone operators, I want to add my little bit;
    These automated systems are there purely to make it cheaper for the business you are calling. Never mind all the cobblers about "in order to serve you better, please press the next series of 12 buttons..." YOU are paying for the company to be able to operate with a minute number of operators/call handlers. By the time you've got through you have answered most of the questions yourself. But - did you get a discount when the company changed over to automated answering? Of course not. This is yet another Americanised method of squeezing every last penny out of us. Scrap the whole lot!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Harveys Furniture - I ordered a sofa that was in the sale online for £399 - went in the store same sofa was being sold for £299. Despite online it being advertised as 'online exclusive' suggesting that it was cheaper online. They refused to refund me the difference online - so I spent a week cancelling and waiting for a refund to then re order it - 5 weeks later I get a call to tell me my sofa is in stock - but they will not be able to deliver it for a further 10 days with the usual all day delivery slot. All this is annoying however the complete lack of customer service is more than annoying. On one call I was transfered to 5 different departments to try and get my delivery charge refunded as a matter or courtesy of all the inconvenience - I now have to give them another 48 hours for someone to phone me back. The staff in the call centres are so unhelpful they might as well have a machine on the end of the phone as none of them have customer service training and are quiet frankly rude.

    My whole experience of Harveys has been for want of a better word appauling and I would urge anyone to think twice before placing an order with them.

  • Comment number 85.

    I work for a major online company and have been involved in internet customer service for over 8 years. My biggest bugbear is that customers fail to read the terms and conditions that they agree to follow, prior to completing an order.

    We then have irate customers who are told to wait the alloted time to report an item missing. If they had read either the terms and conditions, or the help section, they would then know WHEN we could assist. Items do go missing and companies have to wait a certain amount of time before they can make a claim to the postal services.

    Don't forget that all of us in the customer service department are also consumers and we know what it is like to not receive something, or have a faulty item.

    I have just had to report an item faulty to another company and would have to say received the best customer service ever!

  • Comment number 86.

    As an ex Sky TV subscriber I receive regular special 'Come back to Sky offers through the post. In March I received one that appealed, and contacted the phone number they published. I wanted a full package, Sky TV, Broadband, and Telephone (to include line rental).
    It was a nightmare. The callcentre sounded as if it were in the middle of Paddington station - bedlam. After finally agreeing the TV package I wanted which involved constant shouting at each other and repetition which took 7 minutes (8p a minute) I was told this lass could not do the Broadband and phone bit, I would have to be transferred, which eventually, and some musak later, I was. I repeated my requirement to a new girl - to be told "you ca't have Broadband unless your already a TV customer". But I'm doing it all at the same time I said. Can't do she said - get TV first. "What about phone and line rental?" I asked - "I'm with Pipex for this at the
    moment". "Oh you'll have to go back to BT first" I was told. Sky has an arrangement with them". "but I don't want to go back to BT" I said.
    "what's the point?". "You have to do that before we can take the line rental over". she said - and it was in her best 'this blokes a real idiot' voice. "Why?" I asked - "thats what you've got to do" she said, and cut me off. The total time on the call was 9 mins and left me fuming - Well done Sky! your Customer Service stinks

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    I used to work in a call centre for a bank, two different banks. I worked in various branches in the 80's before they began to create the call centre or customer service centres and divide up services which people normally got in branch to the centralized centres. First these covered individual areas, then regions and spread to covering nationally for particular services, all in the name of efficiency and cost cutting. Basically, there was a breakdown in the strong relationships we used to have with our 'local and many loyal customers', which I missed and a general deterioration in services in general, which hasn't really improved much.
    I left, ofcourse, before they moved the call centre to Leeds; I couldn't stand the increased number of daily, disgruntled customers we had to deal with and after a while it drives you mad aswell as the customer! Not a healthy place to work, but indicative of the'centralised and globalised society'we live in.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why was my first post (#72) referred to the moderators? I did not break any house rules and unless the catalogue company themselves have complained, which defeats the object of giving consumers the chance to "air 'n' share" their experiences on blogs such as this, then I fail to see any reason why my comments cannot be shown. I will gladly re-write and omit their name, unless the BBC have already considered this. It would be nice to be notified as per the conditions of your 'House Rules'... which I have not been! [Note from Watchdog: Thank you for your comment. We aim to publish comments unedited, however, the company name or personal details are removed if the comment is highly defamatory. Your comment number 72 has now been posted without the company name. Best wishes, web team

  • Comment number 90.

    The one thing I find most irritating about customer services is having to explain repeatedly that I have a learning disability. My local supermarket are the worst. I know pretty much for a fact that they are meant to ask if a customer requires assistance when packing their bags, they do not always do this with me part of my disability is that I have limited co-ordination and it takes me some time to open the bags and pack them instead of asking if i require help they stress me the heck out completely by snarling and growling and doing the job for me instead of asking if i require assistance I mean heck what do I have to do wear a label round my neck which says "please ask if i require assistance first i am learning disabled?" it is not rocket science!
    Another thing i find incredibly irritating not to mention difficult is using the telephone and trying to explain to someone who does not speak or understand English very well that I have a learning disability! There was a time when I had [company removed] as my internet provider, they are probably the worst offender for outsourcing! I ended up hanging up on someone because they did not understand what I meant! I actually went to trading standards about what happened as well. Big companies need to wake up and realise that their staff need TRAINING to deal with customers who are disabled and accompanied by a support worker! i personally find it most insulting to have some shop worker speak to the support worker instead of me and more often than not i feel like jumping up and down and saying "excuse me I am the customer I matter do not speak to the support worker speak to me please!!"

  • Comment number 91.

    Banks seem to have been almost exempt from the bad comments on customer service in this site. My experience is very different with one of the large (partly owned by the taxpayer) banks. I was at a personal interview at a branch and it was suggested to me by the financial advisor that I should open a joint account (for self and my wife)as an ISA. Joint ISA accounts are not allowed. He also suggested that in the opening of a new ISA account and knowing that I had not yet used my cash ISA allowance, that I should simply take the amount of that allowance (£3,600) from an existing ISA account. It took me a little time to convince him that by doing that I would lose the benefit of making use of that year's allowance as, using his method, I was merely using already invested ISA funds to open a new account. After the interview I had to phone the branch a number of times and despite leaving messages for him, he never did return my calls. I consider that to be very poor customer service and very rude. Good customer service ? NO !!
    With the same branch and bank, as treasurer of a club I called with the club's savings passbook to have it brought up to date and to withdraw cash to refund a member for a purchase he had made for the club. I was astounded to be told that the account had been made dormant as it had not been used since I made a deposit in December 2002. I was informed that I would have been sent a letter of warning that such action was about to be taken and if no reply a reminder would have been sent if no reply. Only then would the dormant action be taken. I cannot possibly believe that two such letters would go astray in the mail. The result is that I have had to formally apply for the release of the (our) dormant funds to a new savings account and this is to take at least four weeks. Do I consider that to be good service ? NO !!

    These two quite separate events happened within the last month or so.

  • Comment number 92.

    Customer service generally has gone downhill. I particularly am annoyed that you now have to pay companies to ring them and be on hold for ages or continually transferred or given another premium rate number to ring.
    As for Tiscali's customer service, it is non-exsistant. Having ended our services with them we were told that an amount was owing. This we paid to get rid of them despite no documents ever being provided to show how it was calculated. Today i have been told we owe them yet more but guess what no evidence as to how calculated. They can get stuffed!

  • Comment number 93.

    Hi, We had both a good and bad customer service experience while moving home. We bought a hew house from [developer removed] last June. The good customer service experience was from the company that [developer removed]arranged to move our content. [Company removed] arranged the removal company at short notice but on the day of the move they didn't turn up and I was in the house when we completed. I had the [company removed] account manager on the phone apologising and they arranged another company within an hour. The account manager rang me first thing the nect day apologising and hoping that things were now ok. She then offered to pay for myself and my partner to go out for a meal. Even though it was very stressful what they did to correct it was wonderful and I would recommend them to anyone. The bad experience was from [developer removed] themselves. The part-exchange process was terrible creating us a large amount of stress. When they asked for feedback once we had moved in they firstly started to investigate it but then didn't bother doing it properly. The more I pushed for a proper apology and investigation the less I got out of them. I have even escalted to [the company removed] who own [the developer]. They still don't think they did anything wrong but my complaint was around being asked to change answers, their solicitors refusing to change the contract and issues even after we had completed. So I would not recommend [developer removed] ever.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    Customer service has certainly gone downhill in the UK, one example of this is with Supermarket chain [company removed]. The new policy for customer service is you are not allowed to engage in conversation with the customer, you are only permitted to say Hi anything else and you will fail the instore test. You must ask prior to ringing in the goods if they are paying by cash or credit card to speed up the process and when you have rung in the first item you must place it in the trolley to give the customer the hint that they are not allowed to pack their shopping at the till. If you speak to the customer other than saying hi, then you will fail the tast and potentially recieve a disciplinary. This process is to speed up the till queues at checkout but this must be implemented even if there is only one person in the queue. Alsi wonder their new store in a small town is quiet, when they clearly have no concept of customer care/service.

  • Comment number 96.

    Language difficulties:

    After a 12 month battle with BT regarding unfair billing whilst paying for a reduced fees service and major problems with my BT Home Hub I finally managed to resolve the situation by sending direct to the chairman of British Telecoms UK - Sir Ian Livingstone.

    Prior to this, each and every call was met by total confusion from the service handler who appeared to be of Asian origin. Whilst I have no problem with a fair cultural exchange the issues faced by the consumer range from poor language translation to huge cross-culture concerns whereby the operator could not understand that my service to the home address was impeded, not by mountainous terrain (totally irrelevant when cable is not affected by such geographical anomalies) but a faulty Home-Hub. All is far too long to go into on here but suffice to say, when I went to the top I finally got some satisfaction. Additionally, on one occasion, I was asked to "...depress a button..." on the rear of my Home-Hub module and then "...put a hand in the air when done..." which I took to mean releasing this self-same button in question. A ludicrous misunderstanding of language or terminology.

    All of this could have been prevented by simply having a reputable service that uses operators that are English speaking as first language. It is most frustrating for all concerned when neither can understand what the other is referring to.

    Further to this, BT operate a policy of miss-direction with regard to the varying departments - I was thrown from pillar to post every time I called by the operator assuring me that I needed to speak to colleagues in other departments. Upon reaching said colleague I was again transferred back to the original department. Calls to complain were lasting anywhere between 45 minutes and, on several occasions, 2/3 hours for any resolution.

    On the whole, the BT service used to be comprehensive and easy to negotiate however now I find it the most complicated that I have come across yet it could be much simpler for customers if the operators were based in the UK and not abroad.


  • Comment number 97.


    Before I start. I'm the first to complain if a service is not up to standard. However, I also compliment a company if I think their service has been above standard.

    Automated call centres should be banned. I want to speak to a person who I can understand and who can understand me. That will help our economy too, won't it?

    I know only certain people are cut out for customer service. Here's a bit about me, what I do and what I've had to deal with. This is not the worst example, this is more a regular example.

    I have a qualification in Customer Services and have worked in this area since I was 16. That's almost half my lifetime ago. I work for a large company involved in the railway. Sometimes, I feel that I'm fighting a losing battle.

    Most customers are fine. Some are fantastic (I have been hugged before now, and been given an orchid as a present).

    Ever heard this phrase - "The customer's always right?". Thought so. It's not true. The customer is not always right. If the customer WAS always right, why do they come to ask for help?

    I work at a large international railway station. I am often shouted at when things go wrong. I do understand how frustrating it is when your only direct way home has been cut off, but calling me names is not going to help. Believe me when I say defending the customer service industry AND the rail industry is a tricky thing. With all of my heart I can say we do our best, but safety must come first.

    This is from an actual event.

    -"Why are there no trains?"
    -"Sorry sir, but a lorry has struck a bridge along the route and trains have been stopped for the time being to inspect the line for safety"
    -"That's no ****ing good! How am I supposed to get home now?"
    -"Tickets are being accepted on XXXXTrains, travelling via XXXX - there's a train leaving in about 10 minutes. That might be quicker for you because I don't know how long this will take."
    -"****ing hell! Why do you always do this to me. I'm supposed to be taking my wife out tonight. You've ruined my anniversary!"

    He's glaring at me, red-faced, breath rasping through his flared nostrils. He's taller and visibly trying to intimidate me by the way he's standing. What do I do now? Apologise again? Explain that I didn't do this on purpose to ruin his anniversary? Smile? Offer to call his wife and explain?

    None of this will work. I will get shouted at, called names and will probably end up calling the BTP for assistance. Sometimes customers do understand. Sometimes other customers will stick up for me - "Can't you see it's not her fault? Get the other service or put a sock in it" (whoever said that in my defence, thank you - I don't think I managed to tell you at the time). More often than not, I end up saying this:

    -"Sir. I do understand your frustration but if you could listen to me for just a minute. I did not do this to you. Should you wish to blame anyone in this scenario, blame the incident that caused the lorry driver to lose control of his vehicle and smash into a bridge. [my company] and [the train company] are working as hard as possible to make the bridge and the track safe to get you on your way as soon as possible. As soon as we have any new informtion, we will pass this on to you. Calling me every name under the sun is not going to help. Continued verbal abuse will get you escorted from the station and banned from travelling today."

    Am I right? Should I have grovelled for forgiveness? Or is the customer always right???

    Next time you think about 'having a go' at your local Customer Service Assistant, stop - is your problem really their fault?

    Finally... Please say thank you if you have been helped. It really does make a difference to our working environment.

    Thank you for reading.

  • Comment number 98.

    The glass door on our microwave exploded! 2 months old. Phoned Comet customer services, took item back to store where it was replaced. 2 companies come to mind on good customer service and they are Comet & Sainsbury's. Does not say much for the rest of them but, in fairness you can only speak for those who you have dealt with.

  • Comment number 99.

    What's really bugging me is the number of company's ringing me up and then demanding that I prove my identity for "data protection". These people seem to have lost the point of data protection. They know who I am because they have my number. I don't know who they are, especially if they have withheld their number.

    One of the most common methods of identity theft is to gather information from someone by posing as some organisation asking for these security details. If we get used to handing out our personal information to anyone who calls, we can be fairly certain that one day we'll get fooled.

    I understand that the companies will say they are acting in our best interests, but they aren't really. They are trying to provide a standard way of communicating in order to strip their staff of having to think about what they are doing.

    I've just had someone purporting to be from the AA call me to try to sell me some extra insurance. When I refused to give them my details he would not discuss even general details and ended the call immediately. Oh well, sale lost, that's their problem.

    We need a better system, one which verifies the identity of both parties.

  • Comment number 100.

    I work for one of the UK's largest retailers and must say I agree with the previous comments about peoples attitude and expectations when they feel they need to complain, they are often aggresive, abusive and downright rude. They frequently misquote their legal rights and think that threatening staff with the trading standards will immediately result in them getting what they feel they are entitled to. They appear to think that if you work in "a shop" you are a second class citizen. I often wonder if the fact that retail is notorious for low pay the assumption is that the staff aren't that intelligent so they can treat them how they like. Good service works both ways in my experience if you are friendly, polite and treat people as you would like them to treat you you invariably get a better result

    The worst customer service invariably stems from not being able to speak to a decision maker, "Little Britain" has this absolutly spot on with the expression "the computer says No" You only have to have a query with most mobile phone companys or satelite tv providers to know what I mean


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.