It all started with an automated message.
TalkTalk wanted us to call them and they requested that we do this by leaving an automated message on our answer phone. By automated I mean pre-recorded. The message was not left by a human being that had called, it was left by an automated dialler.
Husband picked up another couple of these messages and we ignored them, but they annoyed me and so I told TalkTalk using my favourite medium for initial contact with a company, Twitter.
TalkTalk responded asking whether it was a sales call. I clearly didn't know because I refuse to respond to a robot. If TalkTalk want to contact me they can use a real person to make contact.
TalkTalk then sent me, via Twitter, a form requiring name, address, customer account, phone number, e-mail address, mobile number and bank details. Although it was a pain to look this up, I did because I wanted to follow through on my complaint.
The next contact was an e-mail saying the details I supplied didn't match the records they had. I presumed this was confusion over my first name and the middle name I use on a daily basis.
It irritated me that, despite having the account details they needed to investigate my complaint, they refused to do so because there was one tiny discrepancy. They had sent through the form for me to complete again. I didn't know for sure which field or fields didn't match their records and didn't look forward to the prospect of multiple attempts at form filling. It might be worth pointing out that the request that came in with the original form didn't ask me to "Please complete this form…" it just said "Can you complete this form…". It's a small thing but manners cost nothing.
At this point I'm not viewing TalkTalk favourably. This is unfortunate for the poor man in the TalkTalk call centre who chose exactly that time to call (just five minutes before I have to leave the house for the school run.)
I think that during this call I realised why TalkTalk had been trying to make contact. The call with the unfortunate man went something like this:
"Is that Mrs Cardus?"
"Yes, who's calling?"
"What do you want?"
"I need to take you through security."
At this point it's tempting to shout "YOU CALLED ME. WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU CALLED?" but I didn't. I "went through security".
"There's a problem with payment on your account."
"What's the problem."
"Your account needs paying."
"It's on Direct Debit so there shouldn't be a problem."
"There's a problem with the Direct Debit."
"Well there shouldn't be because it comes out of our bank account which is linked to our mortgage and I know there are sufficient funds available to make payments."
"The Direct Debit has been cancelled."
"Not by me it's not. Who's cancelled the Direct Debit?"
"*coughs* It's been cancelled by someone at TalkTalk by accident."
"Right. Send me a new Direct Debit form and I'll complete it and send it back."
"But your account will be overdue."
"Not my fault, you cancelled the Direct Debit."
"But if your account is overdue then we might cut you off."
"Well I hope you wouldn't given that it's your fault the account is overdue."
"If I could just take payment by card."
"I don't think so."
and on and on and on until
"I can put you through to Customer Service."
"No you can't because I have to go. Get them to call me."
Lessons for TalkTalk from this experience:
- Don't leave automated messages because they are impersonal and they are entirely inappropriate when dealing with a situation relating to finance and an error on the part of TalkTalk.
- Improve your customer issue handling and don't make the customer do all the work.
- Say sorry, please and thank you where appropriate.
- When a TalkTalk error has created an issue then don't threaten the customer
- If you do cut off our service we will leave and you will never see us again.