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Is customer service a thing of the past?

Working in a customer service field, I’ve developed somewhat of an intolerance to being treated poorly when I myself am the customer. But my recent dealings with several notorious large companies have led me to wonder whether my basic expectations for service are somehow unreasonable.

First, my dealings with Dell gave me nothing but sleepless nights and heartburn. My computer is still giving me hardware errors. It’s been doing it for over 6 months now. But since the customer service line has been utterly useless at helping me solve the errors, I’ve pretty much opted to live with them. It’s just easier that way.

Then, of course, there’s Air Canada, the national carrier Canadians love to hate. It’s the only monopoly I can think of that still can’t figure out how to stave off bankruptcy and make a profit. Horror stories are the norm rather than the exception. It’s as though the airline feels that “customer service” means not going bankrupt, as opposed to – er – actual service.

Today, Air Canada ranked up another strike, when I found out that my flights to and from Israel next month had changed times rather significantly, and nobody had let me know. When I called, I was told “oh, sorry, I see you were on a call list; someone would have called you eventually”. Er, that’s great. When exactly were they going to tell me that I was leaving 12 hours earlier? When I showed up at the gate?

My woes with Bell Mobility have to about top the list, though. My cell phone has been broken for over 3 months, and was sent in 3 times for repair without success. I got tossed back and forth between different service lines without any kind of problem resolution. The store would blame the manufacturer, the manufacturer would blame the store, the customer service line would blame everyone else… and nobody was willing to help.

I finally complained to the executive office, where I was finally offered a replacement cell phone. Today, I found out that on top of everything else, my replacement phone was sent out two weeks ago… to someone in Kitchener, Ontario. *Sigh*.

Companies are constantly looking for new ideas and innovations to be more profitable. They spend millions on customer research, millions more on advertising the latest products and features… and yet none of them seem to realize that all most of us want is helpful service and products that work.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Maybe we get such lousy service because we allow these companies to walk all over us. There’s only 4 cellphone companies in Canada, and only one major national airline. They get away with treating their customers like dirt, because none of their competitors are any better. So they know we’re a captive audience.

But enough is enough. I think it’s high time we demanded better.

Update 06/07: Problems solved with Bell Mobility, who sent me a brand-new fancy camera phone to replace my broken one. And hey, it *only* took 3 months!

Also, problems solved with Air Canada Aeroplan, where I found a – believe it or not – nice and helpful customer service supervisor who resolved everything for me, was friendly, and went out of her way to help. I rant and complain a lot but I have to give credit where credit is due.

Dell’s still messed up. But two out of three ain’t bad.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Paul Jané 06.03.04, 10:57 PM

    I’ll definitely second that.

  • HG 06.04.04, 1:11 AM

    If you want to really bust a bladder, try Rogers here in Ottawa. Cancellation of cable service led to dunning letters because the joker who took my cancellation call did not inform the accounting department in time. The harassment stopped when I said ‘See you in court’.

    On the other hand, D-Link Wireless answered afer two rings with a Canadian help line. I was refered to it when I called the number listed in their maunual after only two rings.

  • DaninVan 06.04.04, 3:39 AM

    I’ve had great customer service from:


    (Executive Software International, Inc.)

    The least I can do is recommend them, eh?

  • josh 06.04.04, 1:58 PM

    If you are having so much trouble living in Canada, please consider moving to Israel. On your upcoming trip, instead of just enjoying it, make it a pre-pilot trip as well to gouge how you could plan your aliyah.
    I’ve been in Montreal a whole month now, and it just reinforces that my decision to make aliyah was a great move. I really can’t stand the superficial ‘care’ and politeness here anymore.
    On top of that, it’s a bit sad to see how week after week, one anti-semitic incident after another, and the Jews are falling asleep here. How many isolated incidents can ‘we’ ignore?
    And if there’s no ‘consumer perfect’ environment here to enjoy anymore, than what’s the point in dealing with this hassle?

  • Jonny 06.04.04, 2:20 PM

    I had the worst time with Bell Sympatico. They were billing me from my credit card every month. Half the time the service wasn’t even working, then one day they cancelled the service and I got a threatening letter telling me that I was seriously overdue in the amount $29.34. I think I’m going to switch over to sprint for my land line.

    • Berlynn 05.10.11, 8:19 AM

      With the bases loaded you stucrk us out with that answer!

  • dick 06.09.04, 4:01 AM

    Yeah capitalism! Screw you guys, I’m goin’ home with your money anyways!

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