Many conglomerates have had the steam coming out of your ears this year. We foreground the award failures
Another year of SOS pleas to my shopper column, Your Problems, has drawn to a end, and it seems churlish not to acknowledge the companies who have worked so hard to earn a referred to in it.
Over the past 12 months I have discovered why you cant book a flight if youre Indonesian, and how a rail busines can vindicate charging an extra 16.60 for the privilege of going between two connecting terminals. Ive busted the story that protecting your no-claims bonus thwarts your premiums rising if you make a claim, and disclosed the travel costs corporation which changed a clients wife into a follower before necessitating 124 to change her back, and probed why doing your laundry can ignite your home down.
Its frequently claimed that big business skimps on customer services. Twelve months of speaking through your woes substantiates otherwise, for the hours and ability multinationals invest in customer know are limitless. Those imaginative reasons why they cant pay you for goods that never showed up, or compensate for a flight that never moved, take time and great efforts to invoke. And the more persistent “the consumers “, the more endeavour these companies expend on rebuffing them.
Take, for instance, the data back-up website which told a customer that her backed-up data was irretrievably lost because of moves to enhance patron suffer, or the mobile phone firm that was unable to help customers whose phone numbers it had given away because they no longer had, well, a phone number. The truly wily ones wait complainants for so long that they can then declare that too much period has elapsed for them to be entitled to a resolution. Or, in the incidents of one traveling house, they acknowledge individual complaints with an automated meaning stating it has been deleted unread.
When I firstly began a consumer tower 18 years ago, my mailbag was dominated by householders battling with the originality of bulky home computers that turned out not to toil, or flailing in limbo as suppliers of the newly privatised utilities kidnapped one another customers. Now computers tend to work fine, so long as you dont expect reliable broadband, and power firms have left off kidnapping focussed on extortion. Since several of the big six suppliers upgraded their computer systems, numerous patrons have found themselves in one of two cliques: those sent multiple demands for random, unsubstantiated summing-ups; and those sidestepping in vain for any greenback so they can pay their dues.
Lately, though, it is mobile companies and budget airlines who have caused you sleepless nighttimes. The former have an irreproachable register when it comes to selling handsets and taking your fund. The disagreement begin when clients expect those handsets to function, because “providers ” do not always view your monthly payments as an entitlement to service. Telecommunication business, it seems, have a shared weakness: they are not very good at communicating, unless its in the form of a statute. Budget airlines share a same blind spot: because their fares are cheap, they seem to intellect, passengers shouldnt assume theyll get to take off.
While those enterprises that enrage you might have changed( anyone remember Cable& Wireless ?), the offences is generally same. Its not the fact that the goods you buy are faulty, or the service intermittent, its that you have to endure several hours of Vivaldi on hold before coping with the brick wall of corporate carelessnes when something goes wrong.
So, without further ado, here are my 2016 awardings for superb customer service that stands out for all the incorrect reasons 😛 TAGEND
The one you most love to hate
Vodafone has really introduced itself out to earn this one. So manifold are the horror storeys Ive received that Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, abducted on them to help its investigation into the companys unique take on customer services. The upshot was a 4.62 m fine for failing patrons. Ofcoms discovery that customer service staff hadnt been trained in what constitutes a complaint would have come as no surprise to the couple whose home acquire descended through because Vodafone had ruined their ascribe register with a phantom obligation, or to those who discovered that non-existent assistance or terminal illness are not regarded ample reasonablenes for their contracts to be cancelled.
Most profitable apologetic
A round of applause for Thomas Cook, the company( in case you didnt guess) responsible for charging that client for contributing his wife an unrequested fornication change, and telling him that his grumble had been deleted unread. In add-on, the committee is also charged him twice for his booking. In regret, after he turned to us, Thomas Cook upgraded him to premium class then debited 603 for the privilege. It explained that this is how its system works for processing complimentary upgrades and that he would be payed which he was eventually.
Coyest customer service
Opodo, the on-line travel agent that takes your money then, according to many of you, goes to ground,could crowd my weekly tower by itself thanks to the numbers who find their own budgets snap is unexpectedly expensive. That might be because the website showed an error as they completed their payment, so they began the busines again and were charged twice. Or it might be because the company forgot to tell them that their flight had been changed or cancelled so they missed it( or, in the incidents of one reader, it announced the retirement had been changed when it hadnt ). Or even because a booking proved non-existent.
When an elderly customer asked P& O to return his deposit for a sail, because after three months his booking had not been confirmed, the company refused. Why? Because human error was to blame for its lack of service and therefore a refund wasnt due.
Most ingenious money spinner
Car hire fellowships will have to share this one thanks to their dres of debiting patrons charge card without warning epoches after a rental accordance intention is payable for mysterious and expensive mar. With special mention to Goldcar, however, which refuses to hand over the key until customers who have already bought thorough guarantee through a rental agency offer richly for Goldcars own plan. Too to Hertz whose High Wycombe franchise expended a biro to alter the payable excess from 1,000 to 3,000 then claimed that a rake to a hire vehicle payment precisely that sum to repair, although no itemised statute could be produced.
Most successful vanishing act
Homebases too-good-to-be-true sofas. Scores of you took advantage of its outpouring marketing which offered a 100 ascribe on top of a 75% deduction, but were left setting on the floor when the orderings failed to turn up. For some, the first you heard that the deal had been cancelled was when you detected a pay on your bank announcement. Homebase blamed a software glitch which caused it to guild stock that didnt exist.
Best adoration law sidestep
Extraordinary occasions. This is the technical catch-all is used by airlines to get out of statutory compensation to passengers whose flights are offset or retarded. EC Regulation 261 obliges them to stump up unless the interruption is caused by amazing, unforseeable incidents outside their ascendancy so in the airline macrocosm all incidents from late incoming flights to conditions are unforeseeable. Tribunals have hurled out these excuses one by one, but that hasnt prevented airlines from have them to rebuff all but the most persistent fares.
A special commendation must go to easyJet which told a marooned honeymoon couple that its policy of overbooking each flight in case of no-shows was outside its ensure.
Most benevolent retailer
Ebay if youre a buyer, the hell is. You can purchase a decorator pinnacle, swap it for a pound of beetroot, allegation you were diddled and get your coin back. You can buy a bicycle, hasten it up and down a mountain range and return it 3 weeks later claiming a fault. Ebay will refund you. Although this magnanimity is little attractive if youre the seller to allow them to pick up the tab. Ebay explains that its pay plan, which seems blatantly weighted against vendors, is to establish customers feel comfortable patronize in its marketplace.
Most cheapening upgrade
Npower, Scottish Power and Co-operative Energy are all competitors after informed computer systems rendered wildly mistaken legislations or, in many cases , no invoices at all. Nonetheless, The Money Club should be commended, helping itself to multiple debits from readers an error it accuses on a software upgrade. One being was relieved of 29 adjusts of 98 over five years.
If you would like to nominate a company for a particular medal can be contacted me( your.problems @observer. co.uk ), and keep your letters coming in. If we cant change poor customer services we can at least help shame them.