Friday, October 19, 2007

the joys of mobile phone shop call centres (not)

Just before Christmas, I bought a Motorola Razr phone. I have a small problem with it in that the earpiece is really quiet so I find it difficult to hear the other person talking. It appears to be a known problem (I googled it) and the way to fix it involves messing about with phone software to modify my phone. I don’t want that kind of hassle. I just want to be able to hear people without having to switch my mobile phone to speakerphone so the whole world can hear my conversation.

I bought it from the Carphone Warehouse so, stupidly, I thought they’d be able to help. So I called the shop where I bought it. Except you can’t ring the shop direct – you have to talk to their call centre. After they take ages to put you through, that is: two minutes’ worth of ‘if you are calling about x, press 1’ and then 30 seconds of sales spiel followed by ‘and if you are calling about y, press 2’, and then a three-minute wait for someone to answer because ‘our advisers are busy’.

And then it got interesting.

The girl on the end of the phone was so ditzy it was untrue. I told her the problem with my phone. (I’m an author. Before that I spent 10 years in Marketing Communications. Communication is my strong point. I’m polite and I don’t use jargon.)

‘Er, what’s wrong with it?’

So I try again. When I make a call it’s hard to hear the other person, so I think there’s a problem with the earpiece.

‘What’s an earpiece?’

At this point, I lost patience and started speaking in that really sweet, breathy voice you use to an irritating small child. (Rude of me, perhaps, but I did not shout or swear.) ‘You know when you hold the phone to your ear so you can hear the other person speaking? The bit you listen to is the earpiece.’ And I asked if they’d be able to do the software hack for me if I brought the phone in to a shop.

‘Is your phone broken?’

No, it’s just I can’t hear people because the earpiece is so quiet. Let me explain. I am deaf. Not stupid, it’s a physical thing. [This is why I hate telling people I’m deaf. They tend to equate deafness with low IQ. This is the quickest way to annoy me.] I need a phone with a loud earpiece. Can you recommend one?

‘Er, well, Sony are known for music, so theirs will probably be good.’

Give me strength. This is meant to be a company that finds the phone to suit your needs. This girl is barely even trying. ‘I don’t think you’re going to be able to help me, are you? Never mind. Bye bye.’

Then I tried a different shop. One without a call centre – I was connected to someone who worked in said shop in Norwich, was polite and friendly, and listened to what I had to say. ‘Oh, yes, a few people have had that problem – it’s because it’s a flip phone and there’s often a problem with the electrical connection to the speaker. You’d be better off with a bar-shaped phone.’ I explained that I am deaf and need a loud phone. ‘Which network are you with? Are you on a plan? Do you have a budget in mind? Right, that’s all easy. Nokia are good – they’re very reliable and they have a repair centre next to Mark’s and Spencer’s so if you do get a problem they can sort it quickly for you. If you can come in, we can show you what we have and work out which one’s right for you.’ In other words, good customer service. Why couldn’t the Carphone Warehouse girl have treated me like that?

So the Carphone Warehouse – with their poor customer service – have just lost my business. OK, so I’m not a heavy user of my mobile phone and I only change it if it’s broken/the battery stops keeping a decent charge (that’s every couple of years) - but I’m still a customer. Do I not deserve to be treated like a human being?

The saying used to be that an unhappy customer told 10 other people. With the advent of blogs, I’m guessing it would be considerably more than that...


Melissa Marsh said...

I just had a customer service problelm about a month ago. It was an absolute nightmare and it ended with me writing a letter to corporate headquarters. So much of these call-centers are outsourced and it's bad when you can't even understand the person you're talking to.

ARGH! I get riled up just thinking about it!

I just want a mobile phone that works - no fancy stuff. Heck, I don't even need a camera or even games on my phone. Supposedly they don't even make those kind anymore!

Jan Jones said...

What a pain, Kate. I have a Nokia and it is LOUD both in my ear and through the bluetooth headset when I'm driving. The only problem I ever have with hearing people on it is when they ring me in the middle of an RNA party. For some reason I can't seem to get a grip on what they are saying at all.

Kate Hardy said...

Snap, Melissa. But you have to have one with a camera and an MP3 player and... It's my emergency phone. I only want to send the occasional text/make the odd call. I have a very good digital camera and an iPaq, so and the MP3 player is a no-no because of my hearing, so the rest of it is unnecessary technology for me.

Jan - thanks for the rec - and LOL about not hearing at the RNA party. I think I might have an idea why that is... :p)