This is the first of three little stories that show how big corporations and organisations can suddenly react to customer complaints when faced with the prospect of bad publicity. Sadly, I have found that even a suggestion that there might be a story about bad service in even a small local paper can produce immediate resolution of problems.
Some of my widow and widower friends will identify with this first story as I know of similar experiences.
The scenario: My partner died, we shared the Broadband account at our house. It was in his name. I phoned the helpline about taking over the account. They wanted the password, I didn’t know it. So they cut me off that day. But they wouldn’t give me the code that I need to set up a new account with a new supplier. I hit the brick wall, in more ways than one.
He had only died a week or two before and I had an enormous load of sorting out to do of utilities/accounts/all kinds of business, most of it done online. This happened over three years ago, but I heard recently of a friend who had a similar experience, so wanted to write this up.
At the time I felt like I lived in a Kafka novel. It would be bad enough if I hadn’t been dealing with the trauma of just having lost my partner of 20 years.
I spoke to a friend at work, I was in tears. She said: ‘Call the press office.’ Well I am a journalist after all. So, I called the broadband firm’s press office, told them about a widow in our area who was going through all kinds of grief because they had cut her Broadband and I asked them for a comment on this scenario, since I intended to name them and shame them and write a story about it for the local paper.
About ten minutes later I got a call from the Helpline offering to set me up with a new account, completely free for three months and very cheap thereafter, with a promise to reconnect within 24 hours.
It was a great result for me. But this sort of thing makes me so very cross. I know many people who have been in similar situations with suppliers, banks and others and they are not able to use the method that I did to get a positive result.
Companies and other powerful organisations should provide the best possible service at all times for all of us – not just those of us who can threaten to publicly expose their poor practices.
I have more examples of this sort to come, watch out for more on the power of the press.