Saturday, July 09, 2016

Corporate inefficiency

“Conservative” politicians and billionaires keep touting corporate “efficiency”, but I keep finding case after case where they are efficient is inefficiently interacting with their customers.  How many times have you received a satisfactory answer with your first call or email?

I dropped my Republic Bank accounts (including VISA) last year because they blamed Consumer Cellular for the errors I received trying to access my Republic account through my iPhone: both the app and the online account.  Republic said the problem was with Consumer Cellular.  Consumer Cellular said the problem was with the bank.  Neither seemed really interested in pinpointing the problem.

My wife had no problem accessing Pioneer National Bank through her Consumer Cellular phone.

After I opened my Pioneer accounts, I transferred all my funds from Republic Bank to Pioneer.  I wrote Republic to close all my accounts including my VISA account.  I no longer receive monthly statements from Republic.

However, this week I received a notice of a statement from VISA for my Republic card.  Oh, boy!  Did I forget to notify somebody that automatic payments should no longer go to Republic VISA?

When I finally looked at the statement, it was to notify me of my renewal fee!  $0.00!!

I did find a “Contact Us” button that allowed me to call this unneeded statement to somebody’s attention.  I also stated that I had requested Republic Bank to close my VISA account.

Earlier in the week I received from AT&T “Exciting news - your wireless bill from AT&T is now on video.”  Who is it exciting new?  The producers of the video and the advertising department.  It was just a bother to me.  The email didn’t say whether the data for the video was to be charged to my account or was free.  I didn’t bother to find out.

However, I did open up MyATT account, saw the current bill, and paid it, also asking that all future bills be automatically be billed to my credit card.

Imagine my surprise to receive an email today that my bill was ready!  i double checked and the online balance was zero.

I tried to send a message to AT&T and found a page:

Contact Us
AT&T Support - quick & easy support is available 24/7.

I looked and looked for an email form, but I only found two choices: call an 800 number or Online Chat.  I don’t want to wait for “the next available operator",  and I don’t want to wait for the next chat person, type what I noticed, and “hang up”.

I wonder if AT&T uses one of the reputation services, and if so, will the service find this blog post and will AT&T act on it.

Don’t stay tuned!  We may never know if AT&T even read this post.

I think it was the New York Times that had an article this past week that said most telecommunications companies really don’t want to solve your problems: just pass you from one person to another.

“Hello, Melvyn Magree.  My name is ______ and I will be glad to assist you.”  This is generally followed by some generalized gibberish that doesn’t even address the problem, like completely reset your device.

An exception that we’ve found is Apple if you have a device under an Apple Care warranty.  My wife’s iPhone either wouldn’t come on at all or would only get up to 30% charge.  A search of the Apple Support Community came up with over 23,000 topics on this problem.  The only advice seems to be to hold the home and lock buttons together for quite a long time.  For us and others, this did and did not work.

The 23,000 figure does not indicate an efficient corporation, especially when the number of users who have this problem could be ten or more times greater!!

Fortunately my wife’s IPhone was still under warranty.  The Apple Care people walked us through a few steps, and it would work for a while.  After a few calls, they sent us a new phone.  Of course, we didn’t have a backup and had to manually enter phone addresses.  I did manage to print a list from the old phone before we sent it back.

Oh!  And we could never erase the old phone.  It kept asking for a re-something passcode.  It would never accept the phone passcode and we could find no workable answer in the Apple Support Community.  We had to return the problem phone with only the assurance that Apple would erase the data.

How did we get into this mess?  I remember when it was a big deal to have direct-dial long-distance.