Monday, August 20, 2012

Foxtel: How not to do customer service

I have had Foxtel for the last two years. I love Foxtel - I love the Real Housewives, I love the footy, I love TCM. I love IQ and the fact I can use an app to record shows when I am out and about. When I was in rehab last year after breaking my leg Foxtel was a lifesaver - the Woody Allen marathon that I watched meant that I had things to talk about at dinner parties other than bone density and the state of physio in the public system (very good but limited to rehab only, no ongoing care). At times when it felt like I was the only person in the world at home on a Saturday night watching the Real Housewives cheered me up and made me smile again.  I think Foxtel is great! But it is a luxury and, as a poor student, luxuries are the first thing to go when budgets get assessed. So, with great sadness, when my half-price offer expired a few months ago I rang up to cancel my account.  

It's not easy to cancel an account with Foxtel.  The person I spoke to asked me if she continued the current deal I had, would I stay? I wavered (..the Real Housewives really are a lot of fun..) but remembered my upcoming car service and stuck to my guns. Then the operator brought out the big guns and said 'What if I offer you an even better deal for three months...?'. I'm not going to give you an actual amount (because you will want to murder me with jealousy - it was that good) but this offer was gold. It was much too good to refuse and I signed up straightaway, but not before I made her repeat it twice to make sure I hadn't misheard. I was ecstatic.

However, the first bill came. I'd been overcharged. So I rang up and spoke to an operator. Let's call her J. The conversation went like this:
Me: I've been overcharged. I was offered a contract at this amount but the bill is for a different amount.
J: That's because you were on X deal. It says it on your notes.
Me: No, I wasn't. I was offered X deal, but I said no and I was then offered Y deal. Here are the details of the call I had if you need to listen to it to confirm I am correct.
J:  (sigh) Fine. I'll credit your account.
Me: Will this issue be fixed for the next three months?
J: (sigh, possibly rolls eyes at the temerity of customers ringing and asking her to do stuff). Yes.
Me: Great. Thanks.

You see where this is going. Unsurprisingly, all three of the bills in this contract period were billed incorrectly. Rather than ring up and speak to another J, as charming as she was, I wrote a complaint letter. I included dates and times of the calls so they could be checked and my information confirmed. This morning I received a call from B from the complaints department. The conversation went like this.

B: In your letter you said that you were overcharged. However, I checked your notes and you were charged that amount because you were on X deal. 
Me: Me: No, I wasn't. I was offered X deal, but I said no and I was then offered Y deal. Did you listen to the call?
B: No, I didn't.  (My head exploded a little bit at this point)
Me: So would you like to listen to the call and ring me back?
B: I don't need to because I read the notes. Since you are so unhappy with your Foxtel service, would you like me to arrange it to be disconnected?

Let me recap this for you. I've complained about a legitimate billing error that occurred repeatedly and a representative from Foxtel who didn't even bother to research either of the two calls I made rang me up to tell me I was wrong and offer to disconnect me. No apology, no offer of compensation and no details of how I would be refunded. I asked to speak to B's manager, L.

L:  I understand your frustration. However, the notes clearly say you are on offer X.
L: We don't do that. What we do is forward your complaint on to our executive team, who Follow It Up. If we listened to all the calls we recieved we would have as many call-listeners as we do people working in the call centre. That would be silly!
Me: You don't have to listen to all the calls. Just listen to the one I made. The information about it is it in the letter I wrote.
L: We’re not going to do that. Sometimes, errors get made. Sometimes customers don’t understand what the operators say. I appreciate we’re you’re coming from but you’re on a really good deal. If you don’t like it you can always cancel your service.
Me: I would like to be compensated for the time I have spent ringing you and writing to you about errors your company made and did not rectify.
L: Well, we’re not going to do that. What, you want us to pay you $25 an hour for your time?

Foxtel, you are not doing your customers a favour by allowing them to purchase pay TV from you. Customers are an integral part of your business model and without them, you wouldn’t have a business. When a customer contacts you with a legitimate complaint about an error that your company has made, take the time to research the error. Once you have actually done your research, treat your customer with respect. One way to start a call might be “Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We’re sorry that our error inconvenienced you. What can we do to make it right?” rather than "You're wrong. Please go away now."

I would have been happy with an apology, a refund for the amount I was overcharged and a free pen. Instead I got attitude from a company who couldn’t even be bothered doing basic research about my complaint. I could have been so impressed with Foxtel and how they dealt with me that I decided that they were worth spending money on and I should trim my yarn or book luxury budget rather than my TV money. Instead, I am wondering why I would give my money to a company that thinks so little of their customers. Shame, Foxtel, shame.


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