Monday, 9 March 2009

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

If a man you've never met before, calls you up and offers you a 2 month free offer on – save yourself the grief and just say No!

Why? Well unless you really, really, want to have an advanced listing on, don't bother.

Firstly, we had zero enquiries in the 2 months we were on Yell and secondly, when we tried to cancel it, we were told we couldn't. We did get to cancel eventually. But it wasn't easy.

Let me take you on a journey. Back in November 08, a very charming man kept calling me to discuss advertising on I said no – nearly – every time: "It's not for me", "I'm not interested", 'it's a lot of money for no real guaranteed return", etc, etc, etc. Eventually, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. "Try before you buy. 2 months free". Okay I think, I'll give that a go. Free is good. We agree that he'll contact me in February to see if I am satisfied and if I wish to continue. I make a note in my desk diary to contact in mid February, noting that the cut off date they give me is the 14th of Feb – a Saturday.

Monday 16th February – bad customer service day
I email the salesman who was supposed to contact me, to tell him, "Thanks but no thanks, I don't want the advert". He emails back saying that I need to contact customer services in order to cancel. I speak to the a very patronising young lady by the name of Lamb, Dumb or Dawn, I'm not sure, but she says "sorry, you should have called us before the 14th. I'm afraid you are now under contract. You really should have read the agreement, sir." I point out that the cut off date fell over a weekend, and ask "is it really that unreasonable to contact you on the first day of business after the weekend?". "Well actually sir, it is. the onus was on you to call us. So I'm afraid you are now under contract. You really should have read the agreement. Sir".

Now, I like to think I understand a bit about business – simple things like: both parties should benefit from a transaction. So I offer the following – as a good will gesture "How about you invoice me for the 2 months, I'll pay for that, but take my listing off and we'll go our separate ways, I really want nothing to do with your company if you are going to insist I have to pay for an ad that I wish to cancel.". "I'm sorry sir, but the contact is not negotiable".

The situation is getting very frustrating, dumb lamb is clearly not understanding the nuances here. The more insistent she is that she can't do anything, the more I don't want my company associated with Firstly I disapprove of their sales tactics and secondly if this is their idea of their customer service... it stinks.

"Is there anything else I can help you with today?".
"Yes, who do I complain to?"
"I deal with complaints, sir. I'm a customer service executive"
"What's my case complaint number please?".
"We don't do case complaint numbers, sir"

And then the penny drops... customer services and complaints is actually modeled on the Ministry of Truth from 1984. As in, it's anything but. This is a drone centre where modern day Winston Smith's absorb customer complaints through the illusion of customer service. I end the call, bristling and get on line to see if there's anyone who can help. One quick google search produced some interesting results – I'm not the only one who's been through this. Click here

Energised by the above, I write a big long email to customer service, add my moans to someone else's blog, speak to an online legal adviser who advises negotiating, but says ultimately to expect to enforce the contract. I decide then and there, that if Yell are going to insist I pay, I shall make my ad read, SCAMMED. WE NO LONGER WISH TO ADVERTISE WITH YELL.COM. which I do through the control panel. Finally I contact the consumer adviser at the Guardian newspaper.

24th February – good customer service day
A few days later, Maria Bridgen of customer services contacts me to tell that she has cancelled the order. She also apologised for her ill informed staff and any stress they may have caused and that she would inform the relevant people of their mistakes. She also explained that I would receive a VAT invoice, but was not to be alarmed by this as a credit note would shortly follow, but most importantly, I would not have to pay a thing.

Now that is great customer service. It is just a pity I had to go through all the other stuff because they don't train their dumb lambs properly.

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