Is it possible for companies to become so big and powerful that they no longer feel the need to be overly bothered about looking after their customers? I am not suggesting that they would openly express this view but based on their actions customers could come to this conclusion.
In my experience it seems that some of the very large international companies have been making it increasingly difficult to make a complaint. With one such multinational (which I am too scared to name due to their market domination) I had a situation where one of their employees had made a mistake of the most serious nature. I asked about the complaint process, only to be told that I was unable to speak to anyone above them. I then went online to identify how to make a complaint, only to find that they did not have any publicised way to make a complaint. It took considerable effort to find an email address for complaints, but I needn’t have bothered as they never acknowledged my email. As for their call centre, they are hard to get a hold of and unreliable!
The fact that I am too scared to name the company says it all!
Interestingly, this same company is very proactive in publishing complaints about the businesses that promote their products. It seems one rule for them and another for everyone else.
Another equally substantial multinational wipes out accounts with no warning. They do enable you to file an objection, but you can’t converse with anyone and you never hear back!
Is it me, or are a lot of large corporates quietly removing their complaints process from their websites? Are they deliberately making it more difficult in the expectation that many will just give up and put up? In the past you could easily enough find out the contact details of senior employees, but that seems to be disappearing too! I am sure they can conjure up excuses, but is it real or just an excuse so that they can shut down the options for unhappy customers?
Is this malaise creeping into smaller yet still substantial companies? Try searching a company’s website for a complaints process and see how easy it is to find.
I regularly get emails from GoDaddy telling me that domains urgently need to be renewed as they are about to expire only to find upon investigation that they had 3 months to go! I recently renewed a domain a few days before the expiry, only to be hit with a $85.19 penalty. On speaking to their Help Desk I was advised that the expiry date was not actually the expiry date, it was a month earlier hence the penalty. I asked for evidence that I had been advised of this fact to which the employee acknowledged there was no such notification. I was given an email to send my complaint, from which I was advised they didn’t take complaints. I called the Call Centre again only to be told there was nowhere to complain!
Based on my recent experience with Vodafone, it appears that their interest in listening to complaints is nothing but a front.
In my case all I wanted to do was change from one internet plan to another. You would think it would be pretty simple right? Maybe somewhere else but not at Vodafone. I initially tried the call centre. I had a person promise to call me back, but they never did. Then I spoke to someone who would help me to a point, but then wanted to transfer me to accounts. They needed to cancel one of my accounts and transfer me onto another that I had. As would prove prophetic I expressed my concern that I might end up losing the internet during the changeover. If one person handled the whole process, it would not only be good customer service, but would also minimise the chances of something going wrong.
I was told to go into a store as they could handle everything and ensure that the transition was seamless. Yeah, right! At the store I was firstly told that they couldn’t help, I would need to do it online. Then they called their boss who said they could sort it on Monday. That was promising! Then my internet got disconnected! I tried the Call Centre speaking to two people on separate occasions who promised to call me back and never did! I went into the store. Getting my internet switched back on immediately was not something that they knew how to do. They proposed lending we a prepaid Wi-Fi connection, which they checked to see it worked. They said it worked, but it didn’t.
I eventually got the internet back as I was fortunate to speak to someone in their Call Centre that actually cared and actually knew what to do. They had my internet back within an hour.
What about their complaints process? I asked to speak to the manager in the store, she was too busy. I asked for her to call me, she never did. I went online and lodged a complaint. They say they will respond within 48 hours, you guessed it, they never did!
Even if a company appears to have a complaints process, its not to say they actually care and actually deal with complaints. It could all just be for appearances sake!
The fact is, I am not the sort of person who regularly makes complaints, rather I tend to just put up with things and move on as complaints take time and I would rather focus on positive things! I am sure there are others out there much better positioned than me to comment on the depth of this issue.
My point in all this? If small companies behaved towards their customers in the way that some big companies do, they would not survive. Some companies are becoming too big and too powerful to the detriment of their customers. As we go increasingly online, some appear to be making it increasingly difficult to speak to them, no doubt saving money. If you don’t have a complaints department and the consumer has little choice, there is little risk to them. Complaints on forums won’t bother them!
For those companies such as Vodafone and GoDaddy where there is reasonable choice, they know that their products are reasonably “sticky”, that is to say, it’s a hassle to change. A lot of people will just put up with the bad service as they are too apathetic to change, so there is not the accountability that they deserve.
Unless big businesses are held to account in some form or another, you can only expect their service to customers will deteriorate further.