Is there such a thing as customer service anymore?

I know what you’re thinking, what has this got to do with photography? The answer is, quite a lot actually. Apart from the obvious needs of a photographer, the photography gear, there are also other bit and pieces that digital photographers rely on these days every bit as essential, computers and internet access being the biggest 2. What follows here is a tale of dreadful UK support from 2 companies with a little bonus one chucked in for good measure. Read on…

Let’s start with the internet access. Until recently I had a BT Infinity broadband connection. 40mb downloads, around 10mb uploads. Not the fastest in the UK but a lot faster than I can get on normal broadband connections. This has worked great for 15 months until last week when the connection was suddenly lost.

What followed was 2 days of calls to BT’s Indian call centre. The first challenge here is to get them to understand that it’s Infinity, not normal BB. The second it to get anyone who has the slightest clue what they are talking about. After 2 days of calls to BT finally, I got hold of someone who was able to tell me that the problem was at my exchange, Infinity had been withdrawn and my line had been downgraded to normal broadband.

Now, if there was good reason for this, I’ve no problem. What I do have issue with is that at no time did anyone from BT get in touch to tell me this was happening. For a communications company, their communication is pretty poor. After 2 days of calls I had got as far as getting an engineer appointment booked, which was a week away, not acceptable!

The next 2 days were filled with more calls as the BT @btcare twitter account felt I should be able to connect to the normal broadband if I just bypassed the BT Openreach modem and went straight to the Home Hub. Needless to say, it didn’t work. By this time it was calls to BT Options to cancel contract. Every time speaking to a UK based advisor I was cut off as they tried to put me to support. Finally, someone noticed my line was normal BB but the account was Infinity so he changed the account to Total Broadband and applied a 50% discount to it for the time I was on it. This I was assured would kick in next day. Which you’ll not be surprised to hear, didn’t happen.

More calls, this time the Indian call centre managed to tell me that this would never connect without an engineer visit and they could send out one on the Wednesday. But wait! I had one booked for the Tuesday? Not according to support until they tried to book an appointment and hey presto, the Tuesday one turned up.

To cut long story short, engineer turned up after a full week of no broadband. Took away the Infinity Home Hub and gave me new Home Hub 3, connected and all is good. Or is it? Connected now at 6mps download, and 1mps upload, they also seem to have put me on 12 month Total Broadband contract which I never requested and I’m not down to be converted back to Infinity on 8 November when it becomes available again. Wonder how many calls this will take to sort out?

And so to computers. I bought a 13″ Macbook Pro in August. All is good, except from the fact I bought it from PC World. Quite why I went to any DSG group store I will never know but I did. This week the magsafe power adapter stopped working. Luckily I have an older Macbook so tested the new one with that magsafe and all was good, Macbook not at fault so just power. Easily sorted I thought, just give PC World a call.

Straight through to PC World, which was good after spending days my life on hold at BT. Decent guy on phone then he says… “We’ll pick up the magsafe and your Macbook and send them away for repair”. Hold on a mo, the Macbook is fine; I just need a power adapter? “I realise that” he says, “but our policy is to send both back to Apple”. WTF! No. I can still use the Macbook with the old power adapter but they want me to be without that just so someone can plug in power adapter and go “yep, it’s f****d” and send it back with new one!

What’s more, despite having in store tech guys they would do the same, they won’t plug it in in front of me and look at the issue then give me a new power cord, no, they will package it up and send it off too. What a way to treat a customer! Beware if you ever buy from these retail cowboys.

Finally, a quick mention of Sigma. I bought a Sigma 105mm Macro nearly 2 and a half years ago. After buying a new Nikon D7000 I noticed that this lens doesn’t work with the D7000 so I contacted Sigma. Sigma’s reply was to send it to them with proof of purchase and they will rechip. Let me ask you this, how many receipts can you find over 2 years after you bought something? Without this, they will charge to rechip it to work with the D7000. So, guess what I’ll have to do?

Another cautionary tale, don’t save a few quid on Sigma. Future proof yourself and only buy Nikon wherever possible, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle in years to come.

So there you have it, 3 photography related takes of woe at the hands of companies who really don’t care a monkeys about the customer.

British Telecom, PC World and Sigma hang your heads in shame.

5 responses

  1. Mark Elliot

    Tell me about bt… Im sick pf them! I live in a brand new estate just outside edinburgh. Bt sold me there broadband and vission tv package… But my vission tv does not work as i have a broadband speed of less than 2 mb… They say its not acceptable and yet ive had 5 engineers out… Countless phonecalls to india where u start from square one like its a new problem… They tell me im of the highest priority… So how come ive had 5 engineers out over a year… Not one actuallyfixes itthat day andtells me ill need to phone bt to get someone else out. Surely if its not fixed on monday the engineers areback out tue… Or is that a bitsimpleofmeto think?

    October 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm

  2. I have similar problems with PC World. I now think of these specialist stores are being just the same as Asda or Tesco and don’t expect the staff to have any specialist knowledge. They only seem to know anything when they’re trying to sell you insurance.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm

  3. You know my issues with DSG. Lesson learned is always that if you save a few quid by chasing a deal you usually pay for it in the next few months.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

  4. To defend BT for a moment (I know…) when we moved house last year we had no end of trouble with the broadband and they were incredibly patient and helpful. What we have had lots of trouble with at various addresses is the phone line breaking. Your broadband carries on working as it needs fewer wires but the phone is dead. At one address we and all our neighbours had this happen every 7-10 days until BT finally admitted they needed to replace all the wiring in one go.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm

  5. I had a similar problem with a Sigma lens when I bought a newer Canon DSLR. All my Canon lenses worked fine.

    I now only buy Canon lenses – lesson learned!

    October 31, 2011 at 10:55 am

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