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Saturday, 14 January 2012

O2 - Trying but not serious on customer service?

[Short link to this blog entry if you need it: http://goo.gl/oMbyw or retweet me]

In the middle of last year I had an issue withe reception in a particular area going from full signal to zero where I work. The SIM was on GiffGaff, which uses the O2 network. I initially tried contacting GiffGaff on twitter and received an answer suggesting I use their "community" model to get an answer. This is the thread which is best described as "no useful response". I had also raised two tickets with GiffGaff - 110725-000194 and 110902-000256 - both of which got marked as SOLVED without any full response - the most recent message was "someone will get back to you on Monday once the tech team are working again"

I wrote a letter to O2 about the local mast - which had in fact been removed from service. I'd previously spoken on the phone to O2 support and it was clear that the assistant had less information available than I did as a customer, and so I was simply told that there was no problem in the area, despite the fact I'd dropped to zero signal, and everyone else at the location had the same problem - many of which I know had reported it to customer services too. O2 don't seem particularly willing to accept problem reports - in fact I get the impression that their first line service team are there to prevent problem reports being raised ...

To progress this I sent them a letter via the post (included in full later in this blog) to which I got no response. After mentioning this on twitter, the @O2 account asked me to email them with the details. I sent them a soft copy of the same letter, which again got ignored, despite me chasing it up a few weeks later and being told they'd chase up the complaints department for me. I tried again another month later and was told to send them all the current details since the letter was written. At which point, since I had to collate it all, I'm blogging it here and sending them a link instead. Here's the original letter in full, other than personal details having been removed.


sxa555: @O2 Hi, Ref your DM on Nov21, I emailed complaint letter to you after not getting a response via post - did you forward it appropriately?
O2: @sxa555 Hi Stewart, yep we did. We've also chased it up today again for you. Keep checking the site for updates


Now I'm not entirely sure what updates I was supposed to be checking for, but unsurprisingly given my previous communications with them, I received nothing further from O2...

A month later, after someone else in the area made a comment about reception, to which @O2 responded (it's interesting that they try to be 'social' and respond to people talking about O2, but go quiet when you try to get a real problem fixed) I joined in the conversation since it was someone in the same area affected by the mast remobal. They asked me if I'd raised it with their customer service, to which I replied:

sxa555: @O2 Your CS gave incorrect information. My letter was ignored. i emailed letter to you. You then said you'd chase it up. Still nothing
O2: @sxa555 What information did they give? They should at least be able to log the area as having poor coverage.
sxa555: @O2 read the letter I emailed to you weeks ago. i was told no change in coverage despite going fromall full bars to zero due to mast removal
O2: @sxa555 ok sorry about this Stewart. This letter was posted via an address CS gave you? Have you chased it up with them since?
sxa555: @O2 Yes, address given by CS. I confirmed address with u then also emailed it to webteam address you DMd me on Nov21. Chased with you in Dec
O2: @sxa555 Hi Stewart. I apologise for this. Can you send you DM us again so we can get you to email us with the latest details? Thanks


I really hope someone high up in O2 reads this and realises how useless their customer service has been in this case. And telling me in more than one tweet that "customer service should be able to log a problem in that area" seems reasonable, but I've logged a problem via GiffGaff, I know others that had reported a problem, yet their support staff told me on the phone there was no issue, so the problems are NOT being logged correctly. Repeatedly apologising and using the word sorry doesn't help in itself - it becomes just a word, and is meaningless in the absence of the actions necessary to move towards a resolution of the dissatisfaction that their customer has experienced. O2 have already lost me as a customer - my main phone is now on Three although I still have the GiffGaff account. The experience so far means I would almost certainly reject them in the future on the basis of their inability to respond honestly to customer service queries. Also as I'm sure you can imagine it has taken me some time to collate all the communication for this report, and for that reason I'm choosing to post it here so that if they manage to lose my details again, I can just resend them the link, while letting everyone know that they have failed to give a useful response after several months.

So this is a second failed customer service attempts with O2, and both have been complete disasters (see the end of this article, below the letter, for my attempt to get handset firmware from them after finding an apparently incorrect link). It's 2012, you can't do this and get away with it. The reception issue has lost O2 a lot of customers - mainly to Vodafone. The lack of reception is one thing, but the way they are treating their customers is unacceptable.

To give the full story, after initially contacting them on twitter regarding not getting a response from my reception letter, they first gave me an email address of customer services. When I went back a few days later to email them that tweet seemed to have disappeared. I queried this and they told me to email the web team who would forward it on for me. Here is the letter I had sent via post, and subsequently sent to their web team as requested, and I've referenced them while tweeting this blog entry:




Dear Sir/Madam,
I am writing to you to complain about the level of support I received after a problem with your service recently. I am a customer of GiffGaff (which is of course, part of O2’s parent company) and in July I initially used O2’s online support talking to someone calling themselves “Jenny” who told me “the network seems to be working fine in your area” and asked if I’d spoken to the Network Support Team, so I then called to report an issue with reception. The person on the end of the line appeared to refuse to acknowledge that there was a problem, saying the service was showing fine and that no-one else had reported any problems with the cell tower in the location. There were two problems with this response:

Firstly there was an issue because the reception went from maximum 2G signal down to zero. There was a clear change in service, that was not being acknowledged
Secondly, the statement that no-one else had reported a problem in that location was incorrect. It is a site with several thousand people, many of whom selected O2 as their service provider and were tied into contracts because of the excellent reception, and they had been disappointed. Several of them I’d spoken to HAD already reported the issue.
Thirdly, your own status checker showed this:






which confirmed what the problem is (so why coverage is listed as ‘good’ is a mystery), so that contained information that your support line didn’t not appear to be aware of. I was reporting the fact that the ‘normal coverage’ simply wasn’t present, where it had been 100% - full bars - previously. The above screen shot was how it displayed for a few weeks then disappeared.

Your assistant (who I was talking to on a chargeable 0844 number) after refusing to acknowledge a problem, said he’d let me speak to the supervisor and put me on hold for a while before coming back to tell me he’d raised an issue with the network team and that they’d get back to me via GiffGaff. I didn’t get to speak to a supervisor, and the call back did not happen. I received no response, plus trying to respond to me on a number that didn’t give reception while I was at work wasn’t very smart anyway (although no texts/voicemails/emails were received so clearly no action was taken. Given that your assistant had told me that there was no existing reports of problems I can only assume that was a lie, as had been the assurances given to some of my colleagues on the phone that “engineers were working on the issue” when they called.

I think it’s shocking that you would treat customers like this. There have been a large number of people inconvenienced at my place of work, and you have lost custom and respect due to this issue with several people subsequently being able to secure release from their contracts as a result of this sudden change in reception, which I know was known about in advance.

I also raised the issue through GiffGaff a few days after calling you (reference number 110725-000194) and was told again that O2 had no reported faults (as previously mentioned I knew this was untrue) and that the mast “has been locked and is down at the moment“ After telling them I knew that to be untrue I got a message a few days later saying “The cell closest to **** *** has been decommissioned a new cell has been built 3/4 of a mile away to cover the decommissioned cell.”.

Now what I would like to know is why that wasn’t acknowledged in the first place (The mast was decomissioned in the first week of July) and what O2 had hoped to achieve by lieing about the existance of any change of service in that area - contrary to your own web site - and the fact that you had explicitly deactivated the mast and therefore no repair was going to take effect. You have alienated your customers over this, and I can’t imagine how it would make any business sense to do that. I was very close to reporting your deception directly to OFCOM but I felt it was appropriate to make my feelings clear in this letter. For reference if you need to check your records, my GiffGaff number is 07*********.




On another topic, I had also asked them about a firmware link for one of their phones - the XDA Ignito - which had the wrong link on the O2 site (It points to the Serra).

sxa555: @O2 The link to the XDA Ignito firmware points to the Serra one instead. trunc.it/iruma Can you give correct link and fix web page

At which point they said they'd look into it, and to their credit, they did reply a few days later with:

O2: @sxa555 Hi Stewart, can you check the link and let us know if you can access it now? Thanks.

At the time of writing the Ignito link to "Download Software" on the page still points to the Serra firmware. Now it's not impossible that the same firmware is valid for both handsets (they are similar other than the keyboard - rebadged HTC Touch Diamond/Touch Pro) but I'd expect to be told if that was the case, not just ask me to try again when nothing's been done.

9 comments:

  1. I had a similar experience.

    I signed up to an 18 month contract with O2 - shortly after, as you say, they decided to decommission the mast, and I went from having a good signal to none. No signal at all while I'm at work, which is 9-5 Monday-Friday - basically, the majority of my time. The phone became a lot less useful.

    Like you, I called them, only to be told multiple times that there were no problems and that my phone should work fine.

    After many attempts, I managed to get through to someone who was a bit technical, and at least admitted that a mast had been turned off but that at some point in the future they were planning to direct a nearby mast to provide some coverage to our area. But he wasn't able to give any idea of when that might happen, or what "try and provide some coverage" would mean.

    And he spent most of the call expressing his annoyance that I'd been put through to him in the first place, as he wasn't supposed to have to talk to customers. (In his defence, he probably wasn't - I can imagine if you're a non-customer-facing techie, you don't want to get calls from annoyed customers forwarded to you. But that was hardly my fault).

    I haven't left O2. I'd love to, but I'm stuck with the majority of an 18-month contract on a network that is unusable while I'm at work. It feels like they ultimately don't care and are quite happy to just take my line rental each month.

    I do feel bad bashing O2, as a lot of what they do is very good. As a developer, I think http://bluevia.com/ is awesome, and an example to the rest of the mobile operators on what they should be doing to support developers. But in terms of customer service, they have treated a lot of us in an appalling way and I'm fed up with it.

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  2. I probably still have an address for their CEO and someone in his office from the time when I did battle with O2 (as you know). Give me a shout if you want it.

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  3. It strikes me that O2 made a purely commercial decision to take the mast down. It does seem a little churlish perhaps but I have no idea of the cost of running one of these, especially where the primary customer in the area cut their contract with O2 but with all of the company accounts going elsewhere it will have heavily hurt their business. Annoying for people with personal accounts on O2 for sure but clearly O2 don't think it is commercially viable to retain the old antenna and there must be insufficient desire to give ongoing coverage on the A3090.

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    Replies
    1. @Paul Commercial reasons aside (which I am sure were valid) my main gripe (and reason why I chose to post this) was due to the poor customer service and incorrect information received from O2 - including indicating to me no-one else had reported it - as opposed to the issue itself. They're leaving the customer the impression it's only them, and therefore hoping they'll go away ...

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  5. Hi Stewart,

    Firstly, let us assure you that we really do care about your issue. If you have a look at our twitter feed, you'll see us answering lots of questions from customers. That doesn't mean that you're not as important, because you are. We can see though, that on this occasion, your query fell through the cracks. Hopefully, you'll have seen that we've sent you another DM with what we're doing next for you.

    Network queries can be one of the most tricky to investigate because of a number of factors, such as buildings in the area. Rest assured though, that if a network issue is raised to us, we will thoroughly investigate and get back to the customer.

    We also wanted to take a moment to reassure you that we're working on the XDA Ignito firmware link. Keep checking the site for updates.

    We'll be in touch.

    Paul
    O2 Social Media Team

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  6. I am on the same site as SXA, and had the same denials that there were any problems.

    I am impressed that you persisted in complaining for so long, I just moved to Vodafone :)

    Stephen

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