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The customer service phone test

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Zoe Behagg - web producer Zoe Behagg - web producer | 16:28 UK time, Monday, 4 May 2009

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Forced to put your life on hold while you're stuck on hold? It's all too familiar and we know it drives you crazy. Last year and the year before we did an experiment to see how long it took some of the UK's biggest names to answer your call. When we last put them to the test it did seem they were getting faster.

This year times are tough, so we've tried it again, to see if companies are doing everything they can to keep customers on side and not on the phone. We searched Watchdog's database to work out the five companies whose customer service lines you said, since January, had kept you waiting the most. They were BT, Sky, Three, Tiscali and Vodafone. Sky is the only company we've tested every year.

All of these companies are in the business of communication but, according to you, they're not that great at communicating. Watchdog conducted its own survey to see how long it would take these companies to answer our calls.

Hanging on the telephone
We made one hundred calls to each company, phoning their main customer service line at different times of the day, over a three-day period. We timed each phone call, from the moment we finished dialling, to when we first heard a human voice. All in all, we made 500 calls. On average, the companies answered in less than three and half minutes. The fastest by far was Three, with an average of just one minute, 39 seconds before we got through to someone. The quickest single call of all was to Vodafone: they put us through to a human in 50 seconds flat.

BT and Sky were the two companies that kept us waiting the longest. On one call, BT took 24 minutes and 47 seconds to connect us to a human; Our longest single wait of all was to Sky who took even longer at 29 minutes and 33 seconds and then cut us off.

Paul Cooper is a customer service specialist and he told Watchdog that these waiting times are too long.

"Thirty minutes is obviously too excessive in any time. I would have said anything over a couple minutes is far more than we have time to waste waiting for an organisation that actually either wants our business or has already got it. See, we start out actually being reasonably loyal to a company until they drive us away and one of the ways of driving us away is not answering the phone quick enough."

It seems a lot of you agree with our expert. Watchdog hit the streets to find out whether being kept on hold on a regular basis would make you take your business else where.

One man we spoke to told us, "Life is too short really; you don't want to be kept waiting for 30 minutes or more on a telephone call trying to solve a problem. Anything would be better, even working."

Most of the companies we tested, charge to call their customer service lines so the cost can add up when you've been waiting and you still may not get anywhere. Even more frustratingly you could be wasting more time because, sometimes, however long you've been waiting, they might just cut you off.

That's what happened to more than a third of our calls to Vodafone: they simply disconnected us before we'd had a chance to speak to anyone. Sky weren't much better: 30 out of our 100 calls to them were disconnected too. Sometimes, though not always, that was after a recorded message suggesting that we call back when they were less busy. However, we got this message even when we called between 2pm and 4pm - well outside the supposedly busy times - when they should be able to answer.

On hold for two hours
Sky cut us off so often, we wondered if they were just having a bad day. A few days later we called them again one extra time just to be sure. On call number 101, Sky blew all previous records out of the water. They kept us on hold for a marathon two hours and ten minutes. We could have gone to the movies in that time. We asked you what you thought of the amount of time Sky kept us on hold;

One man said: "I can't believe you were on the phone for two hours man. I don't know what sort of company would let you wait for two hours and if they are even worth letting you wait for two hours to be honest. I would have put the phone down."

One of our experts, entrepreneur Sarah Willingham said: "What I want to know is, has the managing director of Sky ever called the helpline at 7 o'clock at night? Two hours. It is an absolute joke."

When we did our phone test last year the credit crunch wasn't really biting. Since then the economy's got worse and so have our results. Big companies are keeping us on hold longer and now they're cutting us off too! In a recession that's not really the best way to keep their customers happy.

Company responses

BT
"BT has more than three times as many customers as other phone companies, so it is not surprising that we attract more comment, both good and bad. Normally, it will take around a minute and a half to speak to an advisor, after you pick up your phone to call us. On the first day of the Watchdog test we were having teething problems with an updated system, so it was harder to get through to us than normal. We are really sorry."

Sky
This survey was carried out on a day when a systems upgrade we were undertaking ran into problems. This meant that customers calling us couldn't get through, and it took several days for us to work through the backlog. We would like to say sorry to any customers who called us then and reassure them that this does not reflect our normal service levels. In the last three months, we've handled 13.5 million calls, with an average waiting time of just 42 seconds.

Note: Calls made to Sky are free for customers with Sky Talk, our home phone package. For all other customers, calls cost 5p per minute plus an 8p connection fee.

Three
"We answer over 80 per cent of calls made to our contact centre within 20 seconds, a target we have exceeded all year. Last month, we answered 86 per cent of calls within this time. To make sure we do this, we have a dedicated team in the UK who monitor calls every 15 minutes. There is also a 60-strong team in our contact centres who help ensure our customer service agents are handling calls effectively. Our monitoring shows that on the days Watchdog refers to (27th April, 28th April and 29th April) we achieved this target.

Watchdog's research doesn't reflect the experience of the vast majority of the people that call our contact centre as it was conducted from a landline. This prevents our systems from immediately accessing the customer's records by recognising the customer's mobile number. This slows down our response rate as it requires more key presses. Watchdog's researchers would have saved both time and money by calling from a 3 handset as handset customers are recognised automatically and calls to our contact centre are free. Landline calls are charged at a national rate.

For 45 minutes on the 27 April we experienced a technical problem at the time of one of the test calls. This resulted in our contact centre staff being unable to access customer records as quickly as usual and led to calls being placed in a queue. This is why, on this occasion, the BBC researcher was on hold for five minutes and not our target time of under 20 seconds. Fixing a fault like this is a priority and was done in under an hour.

In addition to our contact centre we are able to provide online help to all our customers via My3, our self service portal, on the handset and our website. We are always looking at ways to improve the customer service experience and take any customer feedback, as well as yours, seriously.

Customers are asked to complete a simple process to confirm their identity and to enable us to be ready with their records, after which over 80 per cent of calls are answered in less that 20 seconds. We're always looking at ways to improve customer service and take customer feedback seriously."

Tiscali statement
Ensuring that customer calls are answered as swiftly as possible is one of the key performance measures we have for out contact centres, our target is to answer 80 per cent of calls within 60 seconds after the options at the beginning of the call. Our statistics show that we are largely meeting or exceeding this target. It's obviously impossible to maintain this standard for every call so we do apologise when we do not meet the standards we have set for ourselves.

Vodafone statement
The amount of time customers spend waiting to be answered by our call centres varies depending on the type of customer they are and type of query (ie business, consumer, pay as you go). There are also peaks at different times of the day and peaks linked to new product launches. For instance, new Smartphones where customers want to use more advanced internet services often prompt more demand.

Recently, we've been upgrading our IT system in our various call centres which can also slow down call centre agents for a few weeks as they learn the new systems. Overall, the trend is for customers to interact more online and we are enabling more services so customers can take advantage of this. In addition we are expanding our e-forum so that customers can gain support online, so they don't need to call us.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    One of the worst I found was when I was trying to book a business class flight on Virgin. I had to call their 'dedicated' Upper Class number to discuss a query I had and I was not answered in 48 minutes after which I got bored, hung up and booked with BA.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm glad that sky are finally being investigated. I had all manner of nightmares with them after signing up to transfer from talk talk (who, incidentally in the 2 years I was with them, were brilliant). Sky were all very quick to install my Sky+ and start debiting my subscription fee, but as I'd signed up to a special package offering TV, landline and broadband, once they had me paying, it was a complete farce trying to get the other two services.

  • Comment number 3.

    I was with SKY in 1992 or thereabouts, and i remember EXACTLY the same bad issues way back then. Namely, phone disconnections after a long hold time or long hold times period. I have never gone back. Thankfully I am now in a Virgin Cable area, and I will only move into geographic areas where I can get their provision due to thier much better service levels and product offerings.

  • Comment number 4.

    What these companies appear to forget is that the customer is telephoning them to COMPLAIN, which pre-supposes that the Company has done something wrong. They are the ones at fault, and to expect a paying customer to wait for hours, or even minutes whilst they find someone to answer the phone is outrageous. I suggest that complainants charge the company for making them wait, say £10 or £20 per hour, or even more. Why should the customer have to foot the bill for their mistakes?

  • Comment number 5.

    I have NEVER had a problem with Sky, i think the longest time i have waited for the call to be answered is about 10 mins. I called only 3 nights ago (9pm) and the call was answered straight away.
    The company who have kept us waithing the longest was Eon, and that was about 30 mins, Thankfuly I'm no longer with them.

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh and BT are a joke, I wanted to sign up a new broadband service for someone who unfortunately cant get cable, I gave up and recommended they go to another company after waiting for 40 minutes on hold for new business. This served as a reflection of how bad their support lines would probably be. And yes, I have heard story on story of people waiting weeks for new connections or denial of existing internet problems (a common response is reformat your PC!!)

  • Comment number 7.

    Im surprised Tiscali weren't nearer the bottom. Im a student and tried to set up internet and phone line with them for my house. I tried from August, but by October I decided to give up as I was on hold for hours at a time and often got cut off. I wasted a lot of money on phone calls and as a student I just didnt have the money to spare. To make matters worse the recorded message often recommended that I tried to contact them through their website when the whole point was that I didn't have email!

  • Comment number 8.

    re: Monday 4.04.09 Watchdog

    BT answer reasonably quickly, plus answer back offered.

    Also if Watchdog have 500 people testing surely they are blocking the system!

  • Comment number 9.

    not at all suprised to see Vodafone in the top 5, and can only imagine the wait time to speak to customer services will get worse once the fat cats have got rid of 500 of their customer service agents! And sending calls outside the UK may be cheaper for the company but does not make for a good customer experience!

  • Comment number 10.

    i must say ive not had a problem with sky.
    but vodafone ive had the worse one i have two contracts with vodafone and i lost one of them and when i called to get the other phone stopped the lady said it was all sorted (ie the phone and the sim would be stopped and a new phone and sim would be sent out to me asap) i waitted 2-3 days and got the new sim grate i thought but no when i called regarding the new phone was told i would have it by the friday (i called on the sunday be for) so i asked for it to be sent to my work. came friday no phone so when i got home i called them for them to block my other phone that i was calling them on and had to call them on my house phone which cost me was told thay where having problems sending out the phones and ill have it monday and thay unblocked my phone. come monday no phone so i called again monday lunch time and was told to call back that evening but when i called back at 7.55 was being put through to the ppl i needed to talk to the phone went dead and i had to call back the time was 8pm and then i was told that the ppl i wanted to talk to had now finished at 8 and ill have to call again on the tuesday. i didnt call back on tuesday but come wed morning my phone wasnt working so i had to wait till i got home from work to call again and was told thave blocked my phone again and its going to take 48 hours to unblock. and was told thay dont have my other phone in stock and would have to wait till thay got it in stock (so in short i dont have one phone and my other one now is blocked by them and its there falt) it dont end there 48 hours latter my phone was still blocked and i called them from my house phone again (costing me) was told it wasnt sorted its going to take another 48hours as the person who last did it didnt do it properly. so 48 hours later i called again at this point im not in the best of moods and asked for a manager to call me back as the call was costing me was told he would have to ask his manager and i was put on hold almost 10 min later he came back telling me that he didnt want to talk to me any more and that there was more important ppl waitting for him to deal with and hung up on me. by this time u can imagain im not in the best of moods so i call again getting a lady who i must say i wasnt very nice to to start with but she managed to carm me down and sort out all my problems but she told me that unbaring my phone will take 72 (not 48) hours to sort out as she would have to put the request through again for me thats now 7days with out a phone. by now i want to cancel the acounts i have with them but was told if i end them i would have to pay the mothly amounts i would have to pay till next august (2010). so over the last 2-3 weeks ive had to make far to many phone calls to them to sort out one problem that thay turned in to three problems.

  • Comment number 11.

    The wait times in tonights programme were pretty bad, although I did find it funny that Watchdog don't check all the facts first.

    Because when Julia was reading out the email, and joking, about if the companies would be brave enough to have a ringback service, I was thinking BT DO have a ringback service, because I had to call them the otherday and was offered a callback by their automated system and 20 minutes later I received the callback, which was a lot better than waiting 20 minutes in a queue.

  • Comment number 12.

    I like the way the Sky representative blamed it on a telephony error that week. So what about all the other weeks? During the several years I have had sky I have had cause to ring on several occasions, and each time my call wait before even getting an answer was atleast 20 minutes, not funny when you are paying for the call and paying approx 5-8 pence per minute, and then the first thing they do it to get you to switch it off, unplug it wait 20 seconds, then switch it back on. (This takes atleast another 3-5 minutes. So are their customer service on bonuses for keeping the customer on longer? I think it would be great for these companies to either give us a free phone number or offer callback, or to employ more people to answer the phones, plenty of available people at the moment.

  • Comment number 13.

    I can't believe the gall of that guy from Sky who said that the problem with getting cut off/waiting ages on the line was a minor hiccup last week-it's been going on for years

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm honestly not suprised that Vodafone are the only one of the top (or should that be bottom?) five to comment. They have recently announced redundancies of around 500 UK customer service staff, and it is common knowledge that they have recently outsourced (outside of the UK) a large part of their customer service support. I know of several people who have got through to someone, only to then be kept on hold for HOURS! Hardly something you would want to comment on is it? Vodafone have got gradually worse since last year, and I for one will try to avoid calling them if I can. What's the point of getting through to someone in 50 seconds if they are then going to put you straight back on hold or fob you off?

  • Comment number 15.

    I am a customer of both BT and Sky and feel very pleased that Watchdog are dealing with this issue of the customer service team, but I am hoping that something will actually happen and it will change. I dread actually having to phone either of these companies and only phone if I have a major problem, as I know I will either be on hold for a good 45 minutes while being transferred on numerous occasions before speaking to human being. I find with BT the staff are easy to offer you there products but are extremely unhelpfull when dealing with a problem, nobody actually wants to help you or serve you, they just pass you from one department to the next with the saying "sorry you have come through to the wrong department". With Sky they just keep you on hold for a long period of time while you wait to speak to someone, this could be very lengthy period and also quiet expensive on your phone bill and then cut you off if you show any agitation at all for the considerable time you have waited and wasted. Who pays at the end for these calls that we have to make? Us the customer! Unfortunately BT win both ways when I am kept waiting by Sky I have to pay BT for the telephone waiting time and similarly I pay BT when I am on hold to speak to there own customer service.

  • Comment number 16.

    After having watched the show and seen the dismal customer service from Sky 'winning' worst customer service I felt disheartened as I knew I had to call Sky because our land line had effectively died once again.

    Thirty five minutes later and after being cut off before speaking to a human twice more I got to speak to someone. They told me their system was down and they couldn't transfer me to the number to report faulty lines and I'd need to ring back again.

    Sadly I'd lost the will to live by this point.... will try again from someone else's house tomorrow seeing as I've already used up my entire monthly mobile call time calling Sky.....

  • Comment number 17.

    It is a great shame you did not feature Sentanta in your survey. When I tried to cancel Sky and Setanta in January I got through to Sky okay but spent ages with Setanta. Eventually got put through then "transferred" to the cancellations sections. I was cut off and had to go through it all again. It cost me almost as much in calls as a single months subscription. If you wnat to know what happened when I tried to complain read the comments from December 2008 on the Watchdog blog to give you an idea......

  • Comment number 18.

    I have been banging on about the phrase Customer Service for years now as this in general is a contradiction in terms firstly why should one pay a company to complain about their shortcomings, and there is a further point which I don't think has been raised regarding the advertising messages whilst awaiting for some one to reply in effect we are paying for their advertising but I personally make a point of not abusing the adviser as they are at the sharp end and it is their executives that formulate policy and reading the other blogs about targets and performance there is a tremendous gap between the two with the poor individual at the end of the phone getting the customer's wrath, instead save your rage and try to speak to someone in authority remember it wasn't the nation's bank tellers that got us into our current economic state but their so termed highly skilled executives (but don't bank on that) and in the main still holding onto their ill gotten gains in general people reflect in a similar manner to their treatment so initially be reasonable in manner and see where that gets you first.

  • Comment number 19.

    3 may answer the phone the quickest but you try getting any actual service out of them. I have repeatedly complained about my rubbish mobile phone reception to no avail and every time I ask to cancel my 18 month contract I am fobbed off with excuses, often in accents I can barely understand, so I guess it must be a foreign call centre. The signal cuts out at least once during most conversations and I only live outside the ringroad of Oxford. The other day it cut out in the middle of London for no reason (ie not in a tunnel or building). This is the worst mobile phone contract I have ever had and I would advise anyone not to touch 3 with a bargepole! I will try the CSM next. By post.

  • Comment number 20.

    PS: I do find it shocking that customer service standards are in decline in a recession though. You'd think they'd all need to pull their socks up big time in order to stay in the game when competition is bound to become fiercer than ever.

    However we customers are generally a lazy lot. Give us good product, good price, good customer service and a company can probably safely decimate both its complaints AND advertising deparments if it wants to economise as sheer repeat business volume will guarantee it goes from strength to strength, and the best marketing is word-of-mouth between happy customers. If looking after customers did not seem to be last on their list, they'd be laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Comment number 21.

    I feel sorry for the people who couldn't get through to Sky to get their boxes mended. Ironically, I got a call FROM Sky last week 'about my Sky installation repair'. I told her: 'But I don't have Sky. Is this a marketing call?' She: 'I suppose you could call it that.' Me: 'But I'm registered with the Telephone Preference Service, so you shouldn't be calling me.' She: 'We're entitled to call you. It's up to your Telephone Service Provider to stop the call reaching you. You'll need to ring your TSP and sort it out with them.'

  • Comment number 22.

    Sky could help themselves by improving self-service, thus eliminating the need for many customers to call them.

    However, in my experience, their online ordering/account services, are technically unreliable, Attempts to upgrade etc. are frequently frustrated by error/"sorry" messages and telephone numbers to ring to continue with an order.

  • Comment number 23.

    I can understand peoples frustrations waiting so long getting through to big companies, but think about this. Watchdog made 100 unnecessary calls, thus clogging up the phone lines in the first place, so people having to wait even longer. Then, when people do get through they complain for two minutes about waiting so long, so if your 6th in the queue, your waiting time increases by 10 minutes by the time the other 5 in front of you have complained. Then, when the majority get through, they either speak to customer advisors like trash, think they are funding the company just on their bill alone, haven't read T&Cs and then say "yeah, but who reads them anyway?", rings to complain about a bill thats completely correct. I worked for two mobile phone companies and a electric company and I could count on one hand, the amount of times a customer was incorrectly charged, yet, I reckon I took well over a thousand such queries. "My bill is wrong!" "Er, no! Its just bigger than normal and you think it must be wrong without first checking." You then complain about waiting times, when at the same time as yourself, a hundred other people are ignorant or arrogant enough to not check their bill and call up to complain the same day. People with genuine queries, should blame all these idiots who haven't got the brains to even look at a simple bill. I had one woman last year, she called in to complain that her electric bill had sky rocketed, so I asked usual questions, for example "Have you installed any new heating appliances, such as tumble dryer, dishwasher or other heating appliances." She said "No, but we had a heated swimming pool put in 3 months ago!" At which point, I didnt know whether to laugh or cry. So before people start going off on one, check your bill, it will be right and when you do call through and have to wait, it will be because some people haven't got a clue. And if you haven't had the misfortune of working in a call centre, then consider yourself lucky. You can't sneeze without someone asking why your not sat taking calls and as for toilet breaks, you can forget that too.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    I'd like to give some praise where it is due:

    Amazon have the most fantastic customer service. Immediate responses to e-mails, absolutely no quibbles abour returns, which by the way are at their expense, and very efficient dispatching.

    John Lewis/Waitrose and the John Lewis credit card. Calls to the credit card helpline are answered immediately by real people who are empowered to help you.

    Lastly - if you are fed up with paying for 0870 numbers, try the 'saynoto0870' website where you will often be able to get a proper geographical number which, using your call package, should cost you far less than 0870/0845.

  • Comment number 26.

    Im a Sky customer and have to say that they have been very good to me with customer service. I will say however that the customer helpline or call centre is better when you phone earlier in the day. I must say though Vodafone customer service is bad to pay as you go customers. When you phone customer services they actually charge you 25 pence per call. And if you have no credit on your phone you cant get through at all, an absolute disgrace in my opinion. Why should you have to pay for customer service or care.

  • Comment number 27.

    its 19.51 on tuesday the 5th may 2009 and i am trying to get in contact with thomascook i have been on hold for 28 minutes and i still haven't been able to talk to anyone and its an 0870 number as well,since i have pressed the options numbers i am getting charged for this call so annoying.

  • Comment number 28.

    I watched with interest when 3 came up as one of the first to answer a call. Fine they do answer a call quickly but then pass you around different departments but each one asks you the same questions then passes you on. I now believe that anyone who signs up with 3, whether it be contract or payg, phone or broadband, should make an appointment at their GP to be committed under the Mental Health Act. As if to make matters worse, after charging me £25 to finally get thru to the person I needed to talk to I was told It would take another £15 to get my mobile broadband unlocked. As far as 3 are concerned they can take me to court for the outstanding 12 moths of my contract but they won't see another penny out of me

  • Comment number 29.

    I have found Talk Talk very frustrating having been kept on phone for at least 40 minutes also being cut of on several occasions when phone fault or broadband.Had to use mobile because phone down using paid time I am sure I am not alone in this experience.

  • Comment number 30.

    I work for Vodafone. I just wanted to point out, we have a fantastic eForum who will be able to answer any outstanding customer issues. [unsuitable URL removed]

  • Comment number 31.

    What i can't understand is BSkyB reach 9.32million households in the UK yet they handle 13.5 million calls every 3 months. Do the maths people!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Its an issue everywhere - what's important is that if you cannot get the info over the phone, other options need to be available. Web is important too however, BBC is not immune to this issue and needs to improve too in terms of phone and web. This evening it took 30 mins to get a contact for the BBC's website. Very difficult to navigate the website in order to get info such as this and on the phone, I was transferred 4 times when I called - the final transfer from the information dept was back to the main switch to the person who answered my phone call originally. Room for continuos improvement everywhere I guess.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well let me say for a start. I would be one of the first to complain about the waiting service on companies customer services. I do not enjoy waiting anymore than 15 mins waiting time.
    I can say for a fact that there are more than 100.000 calls daily to call cenre.
    Call centres have very high demanded customer service. Knowing from experiences. Everyones lives are not perfect and do not run to perfection. Everyone makes mistakes, including businesses. With such successful business and enterprises, are always trying improve ways to combat timescale for customers waiting periods and guidance on whichever product they purchase.
    So saying this, i think it very UNFAIR that we focus specifically on SKY! There are always services in places to accomodate customers better, and with doing this, it has came from feedback and suggestions from customers themselves. So saying that, with the feedback from watchdog, i feel is unfair to judge at this time. As what they are doing is listening to the customers. And needs time like everything else to run smoothly...............

  • Comment number 34.

    When my father wanted to renew his license for Norton Antivirus to the updated pack, it took an unbelieveable 2 and a half hours for them to not have even answered the phone. As the computer it was being installed on was unavailable, I had to install Norton antivirus technical support software onto my laptop in order to contact them in their online service (even though I have my membership with McAffee security centre). It was disgraceful service! I am so glad I have my laptop security software elsewhere and I hope that Norton get their act together, because the contract has now been terminated and he is now running smoothly (having no problems at all at any time) with McAffee. Norton claims that their updates are 'faster than ever before' but their customer service is slower than a snails pace! Nicola, Plymouth

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Sky - frustrated customer.

    I have been trying to contact Sky for 2 days now, without success. The message you receive tells you they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that the busy times are 12-2pm & 4-8pm and to call back when they are less busy or use your sky remote or visit the sky help online. I have logged my problem online and have received a message to say that they will contact me shortly, this doesn't help when your sky hd box keeps switching itself off or leaving you starring at a green screen. I have since called the helpline (outside of the busy times) only to be cut off after the message is spelled out re the busy times again!!!!!!, sort it out SKY.

  • Comment number 37.

    I just signed up for Sky TV and got a great deal by using [URL removed]- (hopefully I'll get £120 off my order).

    That's the good news.

    The bad news is that today I got an email letting me know that they couldn't do the install on the day I wanted and they have chosen another day which isn't suitable for me. In the email they said to call them if I wanted to change the day. So tonight I called them.(I noticed they have no email reply service).

    As I type this message, I have now been on hold with them for 1 hour 5 minutes...and I'm still waiting!!! At 5p per minute that's over £3 so far - perhaps this is just their way of trying to get their £120 back.

    The problem is that once you've been waiting this long you really feel reluctant to give up...but I don't want to spend another hour waiting...waiting...waiting...oh well, perhaps just another five minutes?

  • Comment number 38.

    I was on hold to three this morning for over 40 minutes, when I got through they refused to help with my query about a mis sold contract.

  • Comment number 39.

    I watched your programme last night and was interested in how Tiscali managed to survive relatively unscathed. I felt you would be interested in my recent epxerience of them. Having had several long calls costing several pound each to try to resolve a problem and reaching the point of giving up I decided to cancel my account and go to Virgin Media, who incidently have a free customer call number. I checked both the contract and Tiscali's website which confirmed I could cancel my contract by post. I did this but have subsequently received two letters from Tiscali stating I was not allowed to cancel by post and must do so by phone. Needless to say I have no intention of calling them and am relying on my contractual rights and law relating to postal notices.

    What was more interesting is that Tiscali have now changed their website and removed the postal address. So contrary to their conditions of contract (which refer you to the web contact page for the address) their is now no address stated on their contact us page. Surely this is grounds for further investigation for unfair treatment of customers, if for no other reason than certain groups may not be able to telephone for disability reasons, it is therefore indirect discriminition.

    Alternatively it is deliberate income generation from Tiscali who make an income out of customers calling for any reason, including a cancellation.

    Regards,

    Ian

  • Comment number 40.

    I find it really amusing that two of the companies are blaming system upgrades on the waiting times.

    My worst experience of calling a company was when I called BT to try and set up a direct debit with them. It took 2 hours before I managed to speak to anybody, and even then I got passed from pillar to post trying to just set up a direct debit. Needless to say, I'm no longer with them!

  • Comment number 41.

    I find it a bit of a coincidence that the two biggest provider's Sky and BT would just so happen to upgrade their systems on the same day as each other and also the day Watch Dog do their phone in test.

    Personally I think I will stick with Virgin, even though their Customer Service is not the best I never really experience it as they have never given me reason to phone up and complain.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    i understand that you guy's are helping people too get away from this company when you have had dismal service and no help from them, i have had nothing but trouble with them and abuse when i have called up too rectify, and they are just a joke i am paying £35 a month too get nothing no signal and a faulty phone they are now refusing too replace, and tell me i need too go too a 3 store and buy another one, PLEASE HELP i cannot take this anymore from them,

  • Comment number 44.

    I called sky at 0940 this morning, and at 1110 I finally gave up, over 1.5 hours! What is their reason this time??

  • Comment number 45.

    I watched this report and signed up for the blogs just to add my comment. I thought that some of the companies who deliver good customer service should be recognised.

    I have been an o2 customer for several years and when I have had to call their customer services, they always answer promptly and act very professionally. On the occasions when I have had a problem with my handset they have been quick to rectify the situation.

    Usually my calls seem to be answered in a glasgow call centre and the staff are always friendly and polite. They obviously have upselling targets to meet but I have never felt badgered by these. However, the only time I was disgruntled was on a call to an english based centre where the representative was pushy and rude but this was one call out of several. So thumbs up to O2 and those lovely glasgow customer service reps!

  • Comment number 46.

    you have made a difference with sky , less than two mins, a vast improvement on previous times that i have tried to contact them ..... thank you.

 

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