The Death of Service

dance of death

photo c/o Zaqarbal

Following Dad’s death, I’m starting to tidy up some loose ends. I’m not used to dealing with the vagaries of quite so many companies at once, and I’m having some interesting customer experiences. Here are just a few:

I contacted EDF Energy because I wanted to take over the electricity supply payments at Dad’s place. After long waits on the phone I told EDF their existing bank mandate from Dad’s account would stop and I’d like to start to pick up the tab. And I gave them a meter reading. Two days later – they sent me a final bill into which they’d inserted a piece of marketing titled ‘How Will You Celebrate?’ Now I’m all for celebrating the life of dead friends and family, but come on EDF, that’s a marketing #fail. And they also sent me a sniffy letter saying I was now moved onto a crap (my word), higher priced (their words) tariff because I cancelled the bank mandate. #fail

I wrote a note to Credit Suisse advising them Dad has died and that in due course, I’ll be closing his deposit account. I sent them a certified copy of the death certificate and asked for it back as I need to show it to plenty of other companies too. Today I got a letter from Credit Suisse acknowledging receipt of the certificate and enclosing a bunch of claim forms. No certificate though. I called them up and was told ‘we don’t normally return those’. OK smarty pants, so how the hell else am I supposed to prove the fact of death to all the other companies then? I’m placed on hold for a while before being told ‘we’ll return it to you’. I should coco! #fail

BT has cancelled the phone line and broadband at Dad’s place promptly, I appreciate that. Then they send me a refund cheque made payable to a mystery character, neither me nor my father. So I called them up and after a ten minute wait I get told ‘sorry we made the cheque payable to the wrong person, please return it’. ‘How about I just shred it and you send me another one?’ I ask. But no. BT doesn’t trust me to destroy a cheque for £24 and furthermore because I want it to be made payable to me they now want to see a copy of Dad’s death certificate. BT are now wasting my time, and my money thanks to their mistake. #fail

It’s not all bad. British Gas have been fabulous. They have a dedicated bereavement team and every thing was switched over to me with no fuss and they have kindly offered to hold all the bills and keep the supply going while I sort probate of Dad’s estate. How thoughtful of you, Thanks! And Sutton and East Surrey Water have been simply fab. Easy to deal with, correct about everything. Spot on.

I don’t believe that any of these companies set out to deliver such a poor experience, and at the same time, in order to have front line service people doing such a poor job, something is wrong. It’s not just me taking hassle on board to manage this crap service, all these companies are incurring costs and wasted time too.

I’m not interested in blaming anyone, I have no interest in a departmental finger wagging contest. What I’d really like to see is closer links between HR and customer service and the customer so that we can have better conversations about how to make these things easier. For all of us, in all circumstances. Is that too much to ask do you think?