Pipex Part 3: Just when you thinks it’s safe to come out…..

by rhiannon on July 16, 2009

Pipex.2You know those horror films when it’s five minutes to the end and all the creepy things have been destroyed and the good people are hugging in the  sunshine, and then…..the claw-like hand emerges from the freshly dug grave. Oh the shock… That was kind of my feeling when the post arrived yesterday. For those who have read Parts 1 and 2 of the Pipex saga, the story ended with me, triumphant, walking into the sunset with my power animal. At this point the music swells, the credits roll and the screen reads, The End, but not quite…

The following will not make sense unless you have seen Parts 1 and 2.  I don’t want to repeat the whole sorry saga. Suffice it say that I have had problems closing my account with a phone service provider of unparalleled  incompetence who insisted I owed them money when I did not.

Anyway, back to the post —there were two letters, a letter of apology, the third, in fact, from Pipex saying, as before, how sorry they were for any inconvenience they had caused and so on and so on. Nice, I thought, to get three such letters, a bit of overkill but nice. Then I open the second letter. and what do I see?  A demand for payment of the very amount that had been in dispute. Strangely it was dated the day after the letter that absolved me.

This was not the same debt collecting agency as before. The first one, CCS, were slightly more classy. they threatened legal action is I didn’t’ pay up. This lot, ScotCall Debt Collecting Services, did not bother with any such niceties. If I didn’t pay  there would be a Doorstep Call. We know what that means—burly men in homburgs looming menacingly at the door, demanding £32.20, or else.

Contempt rules

At this point I am more irritated than intimidated, and today I am amused. Not only do people at Pipex/Tiscali not talk to each other, they  do not talk to their agents either. For a company that specialises in communications this is very strange. Even more strange is that poor communication is  not unusual in this industry.  the reason for this is that  telecommunications  is very competitive and the pressure to cut costs is great. The first casualty is always customer service. An interesting fact of life is that the more competitive an industry is, the worse off the customer tends to be and don’t even get me started on insurance.

The priorities for most large businesses are: profits, shareholders, and somewhere toward the bottom is the customer. This is the wrong order—customers are the source of revenue for any business and without them there is no business.

I have no quarrel with the employees at Pipex or any other large company. They try and do their best. It’s not their fault that they’re poorly trained or that their management is awful. And it can’t be fun to have to read sneering, scornful letters such as I tend to send or have people, through frustration,  screaming at them down the phone.  The people I do have a problem with  are the people at the top who cynically formulate the policies that treat customer with contempt and see them only as a source of revenue to be exploited —lure them in with special offers, take as much as you can for as little as you can get away with. What would happen if customers were treated with respect and as equal partners in the enterprise?  Profits might go down a little bit but  business would be healthier and everyone would be happier. Ethical business, imagine that!

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