Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Customer service at it's best

(First of all, this is the first time I feel pressured to post. Not only because I got some 'demands' from the guildies, but also because I have cut the promising daily posting routine. Explanations follow.)

Customer service is a peculiar beast. It's always depending on the personal contact with the customer service person. Those who have been working in such a position (in a customer service post) know that the customer is always right even though they seldom are in real. We've had some interesting encounters in the last few years because of the new internet solutions, especially payment systems.

The first was when our electricity was cut off without a notice. Thankfully our mobile phones didn't need charging that day, because otherwise the furious calls to the a)bank, b)electricity company's customer service and c)the accounting department of the electricity company wouldn't have been possible. The bank customer service (always happy to oblige) told that the payment had been processed as requested and that from their side everything was in order. The customer service simply stated that there were no payments made within the last few months (!) for our electricity and (after another confirmation call to the bank) directed us to the accounting department. Who simply told us that the reference number we had used was void and the account which we had been paying for the last few months didn't even exist anymore. And -due to being accountants and no customer service professionals- told us to scram it and settle to the fact that the electricity wouldn't be connected until the payment came to the right account.

Long story short, we got it returned in few hours, right after threatening to contact the consumer awareness organisation. You see, the accounting department didn't see anything wrong with the fact that they had changed the reference code and the account without sending any notice to the customers. Their claim was that as so few people were using the automated payment service and the internet payments, their customers would notice for sure that the numbers had changed!

Hello? That was in 2006, and the company had been promoting that their payments came fast, cheap and easy through the internet payment service!!

Out ISP -which is also our mobile service provider- launched a new payment portal, their OwnPaymentService (OPS from now). Through OPS you can see your account status, pay the bills, set the user restrictions and blocks on service numbers and so on. So we've been using that from the beginning to make it easier to follow our kids' mobile bills. We learned this from our daughter's first crush, when she a) sent thousands (at least!) of SMS' to her 'boyfriend', b)downloaded ringtones from (blocked) numbers and c) caused one heck of a phone bill. The funny part was that we had applied service blocks to the account through the web service and put a limit to the expenses on her account too. The bill was voided on one call, with a splendid customer service person.

That was about a year ago. Fast forward to today. This new OPS has been just launched and it's a heaven sent: it's fast, it shows all the billing information and works like no tomorrow. Payment is easy and precise and there have been no problems.

Except that the connection was lost on Monday morning. A phone call to the customer service person who clearly didn't have his best day -or he was a technician with no customer service background- confirmed that there was no payment on this service. Come again?

After a short discussion it became imminent that the OPS system didn't work and the payments made through it shouldn't have been done! The payments for the mobiles worked alright, but the ones for other services -like internet and normal telephone connections- do not work. The response was along the lines that 'everyone knows that this service shouldn't be used'. Then again, even our 8 year old can recite their advertisement stating that you should make all your payments through the system...

Alls well that ends well: after a heated discussion the connection was opened on Tuesday morning and the issue is still up. On ISP's side, since it's their job to find out where our money paid to their system has gone. For our bank confirms that the payments are processed immediately when we use the OPS site and thus they are in the custody of the ISP.

Suck that!

Now comes the WoW part, thank you for following up here. Everyone and their cousins know that Blizzard just released the information that each and every WoW account must be merged into a account. There is nothing strange in this, actually, as other companies have their central game hubs already. Most know I think is the SOE's Station Launcher system, which has integrated all their MMO's into one launcher.

But I think this is the first time that Blizzard has underestimated the effect of the announcement, because the registration and the merging was -at least for me- a real pain and torture. I had to fill all the information twice for registration, as it returned the forms to the first page after I had confirmed the information. And with the merging of accounts I had to do the same, as if the system had forgotten what I had entered. And then...

WoW didn't work. It just couldn't connect to the server and so my joy of being merged to the so I could get my Oswald the Penguin fluff pet waned into Oblivion. Which I had been playing during the time I couldn't login, anyhow.

Oh, well. I hope the customer service people had their spirits high after the announcement, for there must have been loads of calls from satisfied customers on that one.

End note: I'm on vacation this week, but I may put a post or two still. Right after I can return to the game.