Customer service from UPC? Fat chance!

Is waiting a week for your cable TV service to be fixed a reasonable time? Is it right to expect that the cable guy who’s coming to fix your service at an appointed time actually shows up? And is it reasonable to expect that, when you call customer service for the third time and they tell you they’ll call you back, that they actually do and reasonably quickly?

As a customer of UPC Nederland, I think these are reasonable expectations. But clearly UPC don’t think so.

Our cable TV service conked out last Tuesday. Switched the TV on at lunchtime to catch the news, and no signal on any channel. A check of things showed that everything was connected up correctly and the VCR and DVD player worked fine, just no TV signal via the cable.

So we called UPC customer service on their 10 Eurocents a minute support line. Amazing response from that department – they said first thing to do is to go around the neighbourhood asking the neighbours if they have cable TV service or not. If yes, then connect another TV to make sure it’s not a fault with the first TV. Well, maybe our demographic isn’t the right one for UPC, but we have only the one TV.

To cut a long story short after that nonsense, we made an appointment for the cable guy to come. The earliest time was yesterday between 8 and 1.

He didn’t show up.

Another conversation with customer support yesterday afternoon revealed that while our appointment was "in the system," the news of that appointment hadn’t reached the cable guy. The helpful customer service representative said he’d investigate and call me back.

He didn’t call.

So another conversation early this morning with UPC customer
service. Another helpful and friendly customer service representative.
Something different this time – a support item number (2958180) and
notification of the cable guy no-show to the Escalation Manager.
(Escalation Manager? If they have one of those, this sort of thing must
happen a lot at UPC.)

And a new appointment… for next Tuesday.

Oh, and they’ll call me back. Today, I think (well, that’s what he said).

So what I know at the moment is this – to get our TV service
working, we have a to wait a week. But I don’t actually believe
anything UPC tells me given my experience so far.

What can I do to improve this situation? Will writing this post make
any difference to anything? Apart from this being a channel to vent, at
least I can use the power of the blogosphere to broadcast this little
customer service experience. And email the PR department at UPC Nederland as well as at Liberty Global,
the owner of UPC Nederland, to let them know that here’s a blogger
saying not very positive things about their customer service.

I wonder if they’re listening.

In the meantime, I wait for the cable guy. Incidentally, I think UPC
Nederland’s customer service department might be watching too many of
the movies they broadcast. They call the service engineer "the cable
guy." Hmm, when he eventually comes, I do hope he’s not like this cable guy.

[UPDATE 1:15pm] Thirty minutes after posting this post, just before midday, I got a call from UPC’s Escalation Manager to say that the cable guy would be here between 12 and 6 today. So we quickly re-arranged some plans this afternoon to be sure someone is here between those hours.

In fact, the cable guy showed up at 12:15. Ten minutes work at the cable box in the street, and we have cable TV service again.

It turns out that some other UPC cable guy had been working on that box earlier this week – and had unplugged the wrong cable, thus disconnecting our service. Mistakes can happen, of course, but as this is the second time this year that this has happened, it smacks of carelesslessness at least  (and that first time, it took three days for UPC to get the cable guy back here to reconnect the service).

So from our personal perspective, I guess all’s well that ends well (hooray, we’ll now be able to watch or tape the next episode of CSI Miami!).

Yet I think UPC Nederland have some major issues they really ought to address regarding their customer service and service engineering structure.

Are the sort of response times we’ve experienced really the best they can offer customers? When your TV service is out, surely you shouldn’t expect to have to wait at least three days to get your TV service back. Or do they have so many customer call-outs to deal with that this actually is the quickest they can deal with those matters?

It doesn’t seem a reasonable expectation to me. Maybe they ought to introduce service levels where if you pay a bit more, you’d get quicker service. I’d consider that, if it came with a guarantee that you would actually get the service you pay for.

Apart from that, though, they can address one thing straightaway – keep the promises they make. So if they say they’ll call you back, then do so, even if it’s not with good news. If I had had that service yesterday, my perception of UPC would likely have been a bit different today (and I might not have posted anything to this blog about UPC).

As it is, I have little faith in their ability to deliver quality service, whether that’s the customer type or the TV signal (I now know where in the street the cable box is and I have a pair of pliers…)

As I mentioned when talking about the net chaos in Amsterdam last week, when the internet disappeared for a day, this is a hell of a way to run a railroad.

5 thoughts on “Customer service from UPC? Fat chance!

  1. Try living in Spain where customer service is something that…doesn’t happen…period and where no-one (in the large corporations at least) takes responsibility…period. It’s only just been passed into law that banks have to take responsibility when someone’s account is hacked! Up to now banks could say: “Tough luck if you’ve been robbed through no fault of your own.” Now they can’t. And, we don’t call Telefonica Telechronica for nothing.
    But then we do have great weather, great food, passable wine and a very friendly nation of people who really know how to enjoy life.

  2. UPC, KPN – take your pick… utterly useless.
    My all time favourite example of this was my colleague calling UPC to complain that the cable guy hadn’t turned up *for the third time*.
    He wasn’t getting anywhere with his “customer service” rep and so asked to speak to her manager, at which stage she replied “Sir, I don’t like the tone of your voice, I’m ending this call” and hung up on him..! Unbelievable.
    And it isn’t only these two big utility companies: customer service in Amsterdam is more or less universally atrocious. The basic attitude seems to be that the customer is an inconvenience.
    I love visiting England!

  3. Heh! Dennis, I’d expect it if it was in Spain, actually 😉 And the wine, of course.
    Nice tale, Ben. Reality in my experience generally: the notion of customer service as it would be understood in countries like, say, the US or the UK, is a foreign notion here. And it’s not only foreigners like me who believe such things – you should hear what my Dutch friends have to say on the subject when they get going. KPN and UPC usually enter such conversations.
    And let’s not even mention Albert Hein in the same breath as ‘customer service’…

  4. How may people in the street lost service at the same time? If it was just the one house, waiting a week doesn’t seem unreasonable.
    You could hardly expect same day service.

  5. What I expect, Wally, is the service they said they would deliver, ie, the cable guy showing up when they said he would and returning the phone call they said they would.
    Whether those things were in three days, five, or the same day, I don’t really care. In either case, they didn’t keep their promise.

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