Some tales of customer service woe

Roberto Rocha’s Your Call is Important to Us series is off to a … start. His blog has received five comments so far, and all but one are about Bell. He even has a cute little video explaining how the series will work for those with ADD who can’t read the article or blog posts.

In honour of the series, here are a couple of tales of my own about recent experiences with customer service:

Rogers Wireless

I got my bill from Rogers this month, and noticed the amount due was larger than normal. I noticed this because the amount is always exactly the same, to the cent. But for some reason, this month I had an extra $12.25 in “frais d’utilisation” (for some reason, half my Rogers bill is in French and the other half in English).

I try my best to figure this out on my own. My plan is unlimited incoming calls, 100 minutes days and 1000 minutes evenings and weekends. The bill showed a total 126 minutes for the days/weekends. But for some reason, I’m charged 49 minutes of “jour sem” (gotta love those descriptions) at the oh so reasonable rate of $0.25 per minute for a local call.

I call up customer service, dial in my phone number, talk to the automated voice-recognition system which kinda works, and eventually get connected with a young lady with a suspiciously Indian-sounding accent (I’m sure it’s a coincidence). The first thing she asks me for, of course, is the same phone number I just dialed into the system.

I explain to her that it’s mathematically impossible for me to have used 126 minutes on a 100/1000 minute plan and get charged for 49 minutes extra. After putting me on hold she tells me they have a “new system” which has accidentally overcharged me and I should only be charged for 26 minutes extra.

Now it’s mathematically possible that this makes sense. If every last second I spent on my cellphone making outgoing calls was on weekdays during the day. I’m 100% certain that she still doesn’t get it, but she promises to send me a bill that gives a rundown of the calls I’ve made so I can verify this for myself (why such a thing isn’t included with my bill in the first place is a mystery to me, and she can’t explain it either).

She asks me if I’m satisfied with how the call turned out, and I tell her I’ll only know when I see the new bill she’s going to send me.

Today I got the bill, which was sent to my old address (I told her during the call what my new address was), and not only does it not include the call history I was told I would get, but it still overcharges me by the original amount. Now I’ll have to call back Rogers tomorrow and waste more of my time getting them to fix their mistake.

Via Route

During my move into my new apartment last week, I went to Via Route with my father to pick up a moving van. Since I don’t have a driver’s license, he was going to be the driver. And since it’s my move, I was going to pay for it. Simple enough, right?

Well, not simple enough for Via Route. The guy asked to see my driver’s license. I again explained that I did not have one. He says it’s policy that the same person has to pay for and drive the vehicle. Why this is policy is a mystery, as is the reason this policy only exists now. He explains that the previous managers (he lists four of them in the past couple of years, which set off a few warning bells in my head) had their own ways and now there’s new policies.

Eventually he accepts our situation and allows us to rent the truck. My medicare card number is put in the space of the driver’s license number for the primary driver, and my father is listed as a secondary driver. This cost us extra, despite the fact that there is only one driver.

Then the guy has me sign the form, and initial a box that says I recognize that I have a valid driver’s license. Again I explain to him that I do not have a driver’s license and I will not sign a legal form in triplicate that attests to something that is not true.

He says “it’s ok, just sign it.”

Really? Do these forms mean nothing now? Is fine print just there for decoration?

My father initialed that box, and eventually we were on our way. But now we’re going to think twice before considering Via Route for vehicle rentals, a company we went to in the first place because of their customer service.


Cable is one of the luxuries I afford myself. I have a television and high-speed Internet package with Videotron. At the end of April, when I moved out of my previous apartment, I moved in with my parents. The plan was to spend a month there before I moved into my current apartment.

Internet wasn’t a problem since I could use theirs, but they have classic cable and I wanted my Illico digital with its custom channels just for me. Fortunately, the box works anywhere attached to the cable network, so it worked fine there until about halfway through May.

I called Videotron, and the girl explained to me that service to my previous address had been disconnected, because another company was assuming cable service there (It’s a big building, so I guess the landlord made some sort of exclusivity deal). No problem, I give her my address so she can reactivate my account.

There’s a pause on the line. She explains to me that there’s already an account at that address. Apparently Videotron doesn’t allow more than one account for any address. There’s nothing she can do. Even though it would only be needed for a week and a half, and it was working fine just a few hours before, she can’t reactivate my account until I move somewhere that doesn’t already have cable.

She suggests that I add the digital cable box to my parents’ account. It’s not an ideal solution, since we’d just have to remove it a few days later, but I inquire further. It sounds promising until she tells me she wouldn’t be able to activate it until a technician was sent to hook it up.

But, I told her, it was already hooked up. It was working fine until you deactivated it. There’s nothing for a technician to do. She couldn’t help me. Her computer wouldn’t let her.

When I moved into my new apartment, I setup an appointment the earliest I could. Apparently they have a two-week waiting list. To get someone to come within a week I had to settle for an all-day time slot, and sit waiting in an empty apartment between 7:30am and 8pm. I camped out with nothing but a TV, my laptop and a folding chair, and the next day the cable guy showed up.

He seemed nice. I showed him where the cable entered the apartment (the kitchen, for some inexplicable reason), and where I wanted it (the living room, five rooms away). It involved drilling three holes, an awful lot of cable, and quite a bit of time, but eventually it was installed.

When it came time to setup the modem, he told me to hook up my computer. I did, and DHCP gave me a 10.x.x.x address, which while unreal still means I am connected. Sure enough any HTTP request is rerouted to Videotron’s modem activation webpage where I have to go through the process. I click on “English” to start up the process.

Nothing. The computer can’t connect.

I sit puzzled. Why would the first page work and the rest not? About ten minutes later I finally figure out the problem: Videotron is rerouting HTTP traffic, but not HTTPS, and the second page of the process is HTTPS. I replace it with the equivalent HTTP address and it works, albeit unencrypted. How anyone else activates a cable modem in this way is a mystery to me.

As I was figuring this out, the technician asked me what kind of computer I had. Specifically, whether it was Windows Vista or Windows XP.

“Uhh, it’s a Mac,” I answer. Maybe he’s just never seen an iBook before.

He didn’t understand. He had poor English, so I don’t blame him. I could configure the computer, he just needed to activate the modem.

He tells me to click on the Start button.

“I don’t have a Start button, this is a Mac.”

A few seconds later I come to a horrifying realization. It’s not that he’s not qualified to setup a Mac for Internet access. It’s not that he’s never used a Mac before. He had never heard of a Mac. He had no concept of what a Mac was.

This is a cable installation technician. He installs cable for Internet use (among other things). And he has never heard of a Mac.

(It was a situation eerily similar to today’s xkcd comic).

The installation proceeded fine. He activated both the TV and Internet boxes through his cool Blackberry. I got Internet access, went to an internal diagnostic website he gave me, and it was all good.

I should note that this installation technician wasn’t from Videotron. He was from a subcontractor hired by Videotron. That’s how they do everything now. And, I learned from a previous subcontractor last year when cable was being installed in my last apartment (that process took months because the landlord and Videotron both said it was the other’s responsibility to hook up the cable) that these subcontractors are paid a flat fee per installation, whether it takes 10 minutes or three hours. So if your installation takes too long, they’ll just give up, make up some lie about why your cable isn’t installed (like that you refused — that’s what they said about me last year) and cut their losses and move on.

3 thoughts on “Some tales of customer service woe

  1. Pingback: Fagstein » I’ll tell you where to shove your cable

  2. Pingback: Fagstein » Videotron discovers Mac

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