D4D

In the firing squad when the revolution comes

Archive for the category “Customer Services”

Time To Spare

I’ve written before about my tendency to be horrifically early for things – I like having time to spare, and I’m happy with being where I’m supposed to be, with a book, phone etc., and can happily while away the time.

It also, on occasion, gives me time to sort things out when I’ve sodded them up – which was the case on Sunday.

The car’s air-conditioning has been noticeably weaker this summer, so I’d decided to have it re-gassed, and see if that made a difference. I booked an appointment with Kwik-Fit to get it done on Sunday morning, and turned up (early) to where I thought I had it booked in.

Only… it wasn’t booked in there.  Knackers.  I couldn’t find the confirmation email (still no idea what happened to that) so ended up having to call their main customer centre to try and find out.  Turned out – either through my own stupidity, or some kind of system glitch – that it was actually booked on the other side of town from where I was. Knackers again.

But because I’d been horrendously early, it meant I still had the time to get across to the correct place in time for my appointment – and even had time to spare!

It all worked out fine in the end – but if I’d been punctual for the first one, I’d have been utterly kippered for getting to the proper place on time!

Gone Phishing

One of the things about being a techie is that I own a fair number of web domains. Some I’ve got for things like ongoing projects, business names I like, and a bundle of other stupid shit.  A lot are in the “when I get a chance” state of being – the ideas remain, and haven’t been done by anyone else, but for now they’re kind of drifting.

However, one of the other things I do is have a couple of domains that are purely for use when buying stuff.  They’re set to forward everything to my home email account, so it means I can set up anything @ the domain and it’ll do what I want. While it sounds a little bit mental, there’s a very good reason for all this.

For the purposes of explanation, let’s say I own a stupid domain, like myemail.com

So – when I buy something from a new company, I register with them using [company_name]@myemail.com . Any mail there will come to me – it’s a legitimate email address, just not one I’ll ever send an email from. (I can if I need to, but that’s a different point)  Everyone’s happy.

The key, though, is that if [company] starts spamming me, I can block that specific address, rather than having to do any kind of weird and fragile message rules etc.  It’s easy – I just add [company_name]@myemail.com to the ‘bin everything’ list, and there we go, it’s gone.

What I’ve found recently though is another interesting one – I can easily tell when [company] has been hacked, or lost its mailing list somewhere.

This week, I’ve been getting some *very* clever phishing emails (the ones about ‘just log in, give us your details, and we’ll sort this out’) to one particular address. They’re good enough that if they had come direct to my home email, I might’ve clicked on one by mistake. (I haven’t, but I could have)  They’re *that* good.  But I can see that they’ve come to [company]@myemail.com , so a) I know they’re shit mails, and b) I know that [company]’s mailing list is being used.

I’ve let [company] know, although there’s not much they can do about it now. But at least maybe they can notify their customers that their details have been leaked/stolen.

All told though, it’s another interesting reason to have that particular domain, and to use it in this way to keep my own information as safe as possible.

You Had One Job

[This follows on from a conversation I was having over the weekend, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it here. You lucky people]

This year so far has in many ways been an exercise in frustration.  I’ve felt like I’m keeping on having to fight things all the way, just to get people to do their sodding jobs.  It’s incredibly annoying, frustrating, and just leaves me tired and pissed off.

I know I’ve written about this kind of thing before – it seems to be a bit of a theme round here. And it’s not even like I expect miracles – all I want is for people to do their fucking jobs right. That’s not too much to ask, surely?

For example, one of the current bugbears has been a particular travel agent, who is supposed to be organising a break.  It’s been in the process now for about six months, with the travel happening next month.  I’ve given them a decent length of time and space, and absolutely nothing happened. Indeed, the only time anything started happening was once I got in touch with them about six weeks ago, to find out what was going on.  All of a sudden the tickets and so on appeared, along with acknowledgement that they’d dropped the ball, that the initial contact had left the company and there’d been no handover or successor assigned to deal with me.

The problem was that the names on all the bookings – flights, hotel and so on – *all* had spelling mistakes. I’ve raised it with them, and they’re “going to deal with it”.  But man alive, this is the job they’re supposed to be good at, that they do all day every day, and they still make mistakes like these?  I’m honestly not reassured, and won’t be until I’ve arrived at the destination and know that everything has worked out.  Which is hardly a relaxing start to a break, it’s fair to say.

The stuff with the bank, the car insurance people, and the windscreen people have also been fine examples. Along with several others I’m not in the mood to add just yet to the list here.

All I want is for people to do their jobs. Why is that so bloody difficult?

More Sorted

Following on from last week’s “One of Those weeks” post, things did end up working out OK, I’m pleased to say.

The car windscreen got replaced first thing yesterday morning, and the whole process was pretty painless (once I’d got the appointment organised and so on).  The crack itself had definitely grown during the week, so leaving it another two weeks would’ve almost certainly ended up with it being a lot more serious. Considering that I was doing a fair amount of driving through the rest of yesterday, I was much happier to have had it sorted.

The bank issues also got sorted pretty efficiently, once I’d escalated the problem a couple of times. They still can’t explain why the auto-systems didn’t trigger for this – although I’ve heard some interesting bullshit along the way – but at least it’s all sorted, I’ve had the card cancelled and replaced, had some compensation for the hassle and lack of information, and the money was refunded immediately. So I can’t complain too much.  I’d rather none of it had happened in the first place, obviously, but at least it’s all handled now.  And as a happy side-effect it’s also shown the bank that I’m more on top of things than they are, and that’s now on-the-record.

So all things considered, the week has ended up in a much better place than the one it started in.  Yes, it would’ve made life a lot easier if none of it had happened in the first place, but as it had happened, at least it’s done and dusted.

 

One of Those

Customer-services-wise, it’s been one of those weekends again…

While driving home on Friday evening, the windscreen got hit right on the edge by a stone, and cracked. Obviously the impact speed must’ve been fairly high, and it caught at just the right point, so it’s a fairly significant crack, and one that would almost certainly fail the MOT test (which thankfully is no time soon)

So when I got home I called the car insurance’s glass repair/replace number, and organised getting the windscreen replaced. (A fix isn’t going to be feasible, it’s new windscreen time) That all went ok, until we got to their next available appointment.  Which was… May 9th.  Yep, three weeks time, to replace a windscreen.  Safe to say, not happy.  I went back to the insurance company direct, explained why I wasn’t happy with that – I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I were in an accident while the windscreen were damaged. I’m willing to bet that they’d deny the claim, even with having the appointment in place, and the insurance company informed.   They’re like that.

Anyway, they gave me a different number to call. Same company, different number, and as soon as I was speaking to them, suddenly a slot came free for a week’s time, rather than three. How amazing.

So it’s lined up to be sorted this coming weekend.  I’m still not entirely happy about it, but it’s better than waiting nearly a month (because of other things, the replacement would actually have been another week after the ‘first available’ slot…) for it to be done.

 

Then today, I looked at my business account online, and there’s a couple of transactions I don’t recognise, and know I haven’t made. I call the bank, get them recorded as fraudulent, get the money back and so on.  And that’s all OK.

But.  But.   The pattern of these transactions was precisely the pattern that’s used in fraudulent transactions.  Two small (or smallish) transactions, this time both at the very top of the contactless transaction limit, in very quick succession, with a company I haven’t dealt with before.  And then, within twenty-four hours, another large-value transaction, also with a company I haven’t dealt with in a while.  That’s the absolute fingerprint for a fraud transaction – the first two check the card’s validity etc., the second is to make sure it hasn’t triggered systems or been registered as stolen, and then they try to profit from it.

As it turns out, in my case the big transaction was a valid one, but that doesn’t change the issue.

So that pattern of three transactions should have triggered every automatic fraud detection system, and put a hold on my card that would’ve then been dealt with during the big transaction. That’s what’s happened before with the same bank, the same account – except they were valid transactions that just happened to be in that order.  And no-one can currently tell me why it’s not been triggered this time.

I’m not harmed in either case. I’ve got the money back, I’ll be getting a new card, and everything’s fine.  I’ve raised a complaint about it, and I’m pretty sure that absolutely nothing will happen with it.

But yeah, the two things over three days, it all just gets a bit wearing, I could do with not having to deal with it.

Ah well. Fun and games.

Reducing Caller Spam

When I moved to the current place, I got a new phone number – not surprising, as I was in a new area, and a new (to me) house.  As always, I registered that number with TPS and so on, and made sure it was ex-directory.  I usually only use landline phones for broadband purposes – although it turns out I also use it here for some calls, as the mobile coverage inside the house is shockingly bad.  So I have a phone landline, and a phone connected to it.

Unbeknownst to me, the number I got had obviously been owned by someone else before me, and that person was the type of fucking moron who’d sign up for all kinds of promotions, and ran up all kinds of debts.  So right from Day One I was getting a couple of calls a week looking for the previous occupant. (Well, the previous owner of that phone number – it wasn’t a name connected to the house at all)  And because they were for a previous person, it turns out that TPS doesn’t really apply.  (Which is an interesting, and fucking annoying, loophole)

Even so, I re-registered with TPS, and put a spam-calls block on the line. (Which was absolutely useless, and so came off again) It was only a couple of calls a week, and usually while I was out at work. *shrug*

Over the last two years though, it got worse.  The phone’s call log would get filled up in the course of a week, all with “Number Withheld” and “International” numbers, along with the ones who didn’t conceal their numbers, who left messages and blocked up everything else.  I used a couple of other number-blocking services, none of which did much good.  Hell, if I were cynical I’d say they were the ones who sold the number on and spread it ever further. Not that I’ll ever know for sure, one way or the other.

Late last year, the situation was ridiculous. We’d gone from a couple of calls a week right up to filling the phone’s call log every day.  Nothing was working to prevent the calls, and it was just getting stupid.

So I bit the bullet, and changed my phone number. I explained to BT why I was doing it – in the hope that they now blacklist that number completely (although I doubt it, they’ll just have farmed it off on some other unsuspecting sap) – and got a new number allocated to me. Same set-up, it’s ex-d, and registered with TPS.

The big difference though, is that in the three months since I got it changed, I haven’t received a single solitary spam call. My phone call log stays blank (as I said, I don’t use it that often) and it’s lovely.

Sometimes these extreme measures are the ones we need to take. I wish I’d done this one two years ago…

Parking Penalties

Way back at the start of November, I went to a restaurant in Cambridge, and parked up in a marked parking area where you either displayed a ticket, or used an online payment app. There was a sign saying “Maximum stay 2 hours“, but nothing about “no return within [x] hours” or anything.  I paid using the RingGo app on my phone, and decided that if I exceeded that 2 hour limit, I’d simply buy another ticket via RingGo.

Anyway, the meal took a lot longer than the two hours – but when it came to the time, I started to get another ticket, only to be told “No return within an hour” by the app – the first time it had been mentioned anywhere. (The parking was too far from the restaurant for a “quick dash” to pay cash for a new ticket, as wellBollocks, thought I.

Once the hour was done, I got another ticket (yes, the meal went on that long) but I was pretty sure I’d have a ticket when I got back to the car.

And I did.  I also re-checked the signs, and took a photo of them, to prove there was nothing about the return clause on the signage.  Once I got home, I paid the ticket – I couldn’t argue that it had been issued correctly, after all! – and then appealed it, becaue of the lack of information and signage.  Despite information on the website saying I could (and indeed should) pay and then appeal, immediately it started throwing problems of “You’ve paid this, so can’t appeal it” and so on.

I ended up getting in touch with Cambridgeshire Parking by email, explaining the situation, that the signage and app made no mention at all of the ‘no return’ clause, including the photos and screenshots. And once it was sent, I waited. And waited.

Two weeks later they came back, saying “It says about no return on the ticket machine. Appeal denied”.  And that was pretty much it. Nothing else about how to appeal a decision to an independent review (which, according to the website, should be provided every time an appeal is denied) or anything else. So I wrote back, explaining the situation again, that I’d gone nowhere near a ticket machine – having paid online – so never saw the one place they say the clause is detailed.

Another two weeks, and another “Nope. It says it on the ticket machine. You should’ve checked. Appeal denied” response. (Admittedly I’m paraphrasing – but not by all that much!)  And still no information about how to take it to an independent adjudicator.

Eventually though, just before Christmas, I ended up speaking to a manager. My sense of humour had utterly failed, I’d escalated it to a full-on complaint, and got the call.

The entire situation is ridiculous. In order to get the information about the adjudicator, I’d have to get my initial paid fine refunded, let the council go through DVLA to find the vehicle owner, send me a formal notice, then I could appeal it, get denied, and get the information about the adjudicator. Which might take up to three more months. Utterly, utterly farcical.  But still, I was prepared to do it – not for the money, but simply for the fact that Cambridgeshire Council seem to think that it’s OK to not provide the information, and then fine drivers who haven’t actually walked to the ticket machine.

Anyway. Common-sense finally kicked in. The fine will be refunded, and they’ve accepted that signage (and app information) needs to be improved.  The manager still insisted that “no signage mentions the no return clause, that’s a national thing” and so on, but there’s going to be a review.

The real icing on the cake for that, though, was that after two months of dealing with this, I was back in Cambridge the following day, and parked at a different piece of on-street parking.  And lo and behold, on the information for that one, the signs say about the no return clause, and so does the app.  Which means it’s definitely about inconsistent information within the council, rather than my being utterly wrong.

And yes, I did re-email the manager to tell them that as well…

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