It should come as no surprise that a telco might provide crappy customer service . This afternoon I was subjected to Optus ‘customer care’, and their conduct is such that I can only describe it as criminally incompetent.
I have a large number of communications charges that make their way to me every month but – with the growth of BeliefMedia – it’s minimising monthly costs for my three personal mobile phones that slipped a little under the radar. Back in 2014 I switched to a plan with Optus that included a new handset. When that plan expired at the end of 2016 I simply continued with the existing service blissfully unaware of how much I should actually be paying. What this ignorance meant is that I paid over 300% more than I should have.
Before I continue, could you imagine any other utility service blatantly overcharging without incurring the wrath of every nightly current affairs program? Optus were literally charging me $100 per month for a service that now cost $30 (with over twice the data allowance). In what other industry are those savings simply not passed onto a customer? At the very least, one would expect a phone call advising of more cost-effective options. At the very worst this practice might be considered extortion, and at the very least it’s an entirely unethical business model.
In an attempt to minimize charges I called Optus back in August and spent two hours on hold before I decided to simply visit a local store (I had payment and contact details that needed updating, and also needed a new battery, so the visit wasn’t entirely unjustified).
After waiting for around 40 minutes at the Narellan Optus store I talked briefly to a shop assistant that claimed to make a number of changes to my account – one of which was reducing my primary plan to another than was literally 30% the cost of the former. I was told about computer problems but was assured the requested changes would take effect. As part of my visit the staff reluctantly assisted with the change of my email and payment method.
For whatever reason, the changes made at the Optus store didn’t take effect. As a result, for the last few months an automated payment was made being made via an account that no longer existed. Of course, I didn’t find out about the issue until outgoing restrictions were imposed upon my handset earlier today.
I made a phone call to Optus at 3.40pm. The call ended at 7.55pm. That’s over 4 hours and 15 minutes and nothing was resolved. In that time I was disconnected 4 times, spoke to at least 15 people (I lost count after 12), and journeyed through an endless loop of phone transfers from one department back to another. I started a loop with the billing department only to be transferred repeatedly to intermediate departments (despite my objections) only to end up at the same billing department 45 minutes later (each transfer meant that I had to explain the situation all over again as if the last 45 minutes of my life never existed). I navigated that infinite cycle around 6 times until the call was disconnected on me for the last time (I was transferred to a department that had closed).
Around three hours into the phone call I pleaded to the customer service representative at the end of the phone and asked that they please put me onto somebody that could actually help. I explained that there wasn’t a single department I hadn’t spoken to, and tried to educate them on their broken and somewhat ineffectual customer support. Needless to say, the infinite loop continued and my problem remain unresolved. None of my requests to speak to a supervisor were honored.
So, here I am on a Friday night with no guarantee that their support services will be open tomorrow… and I have no reason to believe that I’ll have any success resolving my issue given today’s experience.
BeliefMedia has a huge telecommunications budget with much of it assigned to Optus services. That changes Monday morning.
Note: While painful, the experience has provided an antidote for our client care training courses.
Update 30th December, 14:25: The issue is now mostly resolved. Plan will likely be backdated from September. Thankfully, I spoke to what appears to be the one person at Optus that was prepared to assist.
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This is a timely reminder to any of our customers that they can call me personally anytime to resolve any issue of concern. If I can’t resolve your issue immediately I’ll endeavor to have any grievance resolved within 24 hours.
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