Well now, there's a surprise. It seems that BT has the worst call-centre customer service, even beating those champions of customer bad treatment over at British Gas.
A survey of 5,000 people found BT was almost twice as bad as runner-up British Gas when it came to dealing with issues and complaints. Sky came third, followed by Virgin Media and Vodafone in the survey by internet market research firm www.OnePoll.com.
Among the biggest complaints from customers were foreign-based call centres with staff who struggled to understand UK accents. The survey cites the example of a customer who was told by an Indian call centre operator that his Scottish accent was unintelligible.
Customers also hate automated systems which won't let you through to a real person, rude staff, having to answer numerous security questions, being passed around different people and having to keep repeating the same complaint or inquiry.
The majority of callers reckon they spend on average about 23 minutes on the phone each time they call one of the companies on the 'named and shamed' list. BT was top for the longest holding times, followed by British Gas and Sky. A BT spokesman rebutted the findings and said that it now takes 32 seconds on average to get through to an advisor. Quite what magic number this spokesman is able to call is anyone's guess, but it's not listed on any BT web site or being used by you or me...
Last time I had cause to talk to a BT call centre, when I finally got through to a human being, the operator was rude, uninformed, said that the problem I was reporting was my own fault (it wasn't!) and then openly told me that he would change the information on my record to support his version of events so there was no point in my complaining to anyone else. I chose to complain directly to Ian Livingston. He replied within minutes, which was very impressive I must admit, and my problem did get solved, but that's by the by.
Sadly there's nothing surprising about these results. The same names keep coming up year on year.. The only element of tension is really whether it will be BT or BG in top slot. And every year, the 'losing'' firm will issue a statement boasting about the statistics that prove that their customer service has improved by another 50 squillion percent and that all their customers are happy, contented and only too pleased to carry on doing business with them.
The trouble is, the likes of BT and British Gas are now in such states of denial about the reality of their situations that they can't recognise the contempt that their customers feel they are subjected to. See you here next year, same time, same place, same sorry rankings...