Many conglomerates have had the steam coming out of your ears this year. We spotlit the reward failures

Another year of SOS pleas to my consumer column, Your Problems, has drawn to a shut, and it seems churlish not to acknowledge the companies who have worked so hard to earn a mention in it.

Over the past 12 months I have discovered why you cant volume a flight if youre Indonesian, and how a rail busines can justify charging an additional 16.60 for the privilege of ambling between two connecting stations. Ive busted the illusion that protecting your no-claims bonus avoids your premiums rising if you make a claim, and uncovered the travel costs busines which changed a clients spouse into a husband before requiring 124 to change her back, and probed why doing your laundry can burn your live down.

Its regularly claimed that big business skimps on customer services. Twelve months of reading through your woes proves otherwise, for the hours and ability multinationals invest in client suffer are boundless. Those creative reasons set out above they cant pay you for goods that never depicted up, or compensate for a flight that never operated, take time and effort to invoke. And the most persistent the customer, the more attempt 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 experience, or the mobile phone conglomerate that was unable to help customers whose telephone number it had given away because they no longer had, well, a phone number. The genuinely adroit ones slow complainants for so long that they can then be acknowledged that too much experience has elapsed for them to be entitled to previous resolutions. Or, in the case of one advance firm, they accept individual complaints with an automated message stating it has been deleted unread.

When I first began a consumer pillar 18 years ago, my mailbag was dominated by householders wrestling with the originality of bulky home computers that turned out not to make, or flailing in limbo as a provider of the freshly privatised utilities kidnapped each others patrons. Now computers tend to work fine, so long as you dont expect reliable broadband, and energy conglomerates have left off kidnapping focussed on extortion. Since various of the big six suppliers improved their computer systems, many clients have found themselves in one of two cliques: those sent multiple a requirement for random, unsubstantiated summarizes; and those entreat in vain for any proposal so they can pay their dues.

Lately, though, it is mobile companies and budget airlines who have caused you sleepless nights. The former have an irreproachable account when it comes to selling handsets and taking your money. The disagreement starts when purchasers expect those handsets to perform, because “providers ” do not ever see your monthly payments as an entitlement to service. Telecommunication business, it seems, have a shared weakness: “theyre not” very good at communicating, unless its in the form of a bill. Budget airlines share a similar blind spot: because their prices are inexpensive, they appear to intellect, passengers shouldnt assume theyll get at take off.

While those enterprises that infuriate 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 callousnes when something goes wrong.

So, without giving further ado, here are my 2016 bestows for superb customer service that stands out for all the incorrect grounds 😛 TAGEND

The one you most have liked to hate

Vodafone must certainly gave itself out to earn this one. So manifold are the horror floors Ive received that Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, abducted on them to help its investigation into the companys unique take over customer services. The answer was a 4.62 m fine for miscarrying patrons. Ofcoms uncovering that customer service staff hadnt been trained in what constitutes a complaint would have come as no surprise to the couple whose live acquire descended through because Vodafone had wrecked their credit register with a phantom obligation, or to those who discovered that non-existent busines or terminal illness are not deemed sufficient reason 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 rendering his wife an unrequested copulation change, and telling him that his grumble had been deleted unread. In add-on, it also charged him twice for his booking. In regret, after he turned to us, Thomas Cook improved him to premium class then debited 603 for the privilege. It explained that this is how its system works for handling complimentary ascents and that he would be refunded which he was eventually.

Coyest customer service

Opodo, the online travel agent that takes your money then, according to the report of many of you, goes to ground,could crowd my weekly article by itself thanks to the numbers who find their own budgets transgres is accidentally costly. That might be because the website showed an error as they completed their payment, so they began the transaction again and were billed 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 departure had been changed when it hadnt ). Or even because a booking substantiated non-existent.

Bureaucratic reasoning

When an elderly customer questioned P& O to return his deposit for a sail, because after 3 month his booking has not been able to been confirmed, the company worsened. Why? Because human error was to blame for its lack of service and therefore a pay wasnt due.

Most ingenious fund spinner

Car hire firms will have to share this one thanks to their wont of debiting patrons credit card without warning epoches after a rental correspondence discontinues to pay for mysterious and expensive impair. With special mention to Goldcar, nonetheless, which refuses to hand over the keys until customers who have already bought thorough assurance through a rental busines pay handsomely for Goldcars own programme. Likewise to Hertz whose High Wycombe franchise utilized a biro to vary the payable excess from 1,000 to 3,000 then claimed that a scratch to a hire vehicle expense precise that sum to fixing, although no itemised proposal could be produced.

Most successful vanishing act

Homebases too-good-to-be-true sofas. Tallies of you took advantage of its outpouring sale which offered a 100 recognition on top of a 75% discount, but were left baby-sit on the storey when the orders failed to turn up. For some, the first you heard that the transaction had been cancelled was when you observed a pay on your bank statement. Homebase blamed a software hitch which caused it to tell inventory that didnt exist.

Best cherished legal evade

Extraordinary events. This is the technical catch-all is used by airlines to get out of paying statutory compensation to passengers whose flights are nullified or retarded. EC Regulation 261 pressures them to stump up unless the interruption is caused by amazing, unforseeable incidents outside their self-restraint so in the airline world all happens from late incoming flights to climates are unforeseeable. Tribunals have shed out these condones one by one, but that hasnt deterred airlines from have them to rebuff all but the most persistent passengers.

A special citation must go to easyJet which told a abandoned honeymoon duet that its policy of overbooking each flight in case of no-shows was outside its ascendancy.

Most benevolent retailer

Ebay if youre a buyer, the hell is. You can purchase a decorator meridian, swap it for a pound of beetroot, affirm you were diddled and get your coin back. You can buy a bike, race it up and down a mountain range and return it three weeks later claiming a defect. Ebay will pay you. Although this magnanimity is little attractive if youre the seller to allow them to gather up the invoice. Ebay explains that its refund programme, which seems blatantly weighted against sellers, is to shape purchasers feel comfortable shopping in its marketplace.

Most degrading upgrade

Npower, Scottish Power and Co-operative Energy are all contenders after revised computer systems produced wildly incorrect statutes or, in many cases , no statutes at all. However, The Money Club should be commended, facilitating itself to multiple debits from customers an error it blames on a software upgrade. One person was relieved of 29 places of 98 over five years old.

If you would like to nominate a company for a particular trophy 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 the least aid reproach them.

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