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The Good, the Bad and the Post Office

10th Mar 2005
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Typical - it never rains but it pours. It's been a busy old week what with one thing and another. Gartner's CRM summit came and went, leaving the outsouring industry fuming in its wake over claims that most customer service outsourcing was doomed to fail; made another new version announcement and Microsoft attempted to clear up some of the question surrounding the direction of the fabled Project Green.

Almost unnoticed was the news that NTL was this week named as the worst customer service provider in the UK in a poll by Internet Market Research Services. The survey also brought bad news for BT which drops out of the best firms to take second worst behind NTL.

Tesco offers the best customer service for the second year in succession, while other good practitioners include Virgin, Asda, Morrisons, Safeway, Boots, First Direct, John Lewis and Orange.

On the roll of shame were PC WOrld, Currys, Dixons, British Gas, Comet, Argos and Vodafone. Online book retailer Amazon surprisingly dropped out of the top ten of good service providers following complaints about Christmas deliveries.

NTL's ranking does not surprise me in the slightest. I've phoned them and emailed them many times trying to get them to cable my apartment - all the other buildings in the street are cabled so the infrastructure is there - only to be told by a succession of gormless sounding individuals that my address doesn't exist in their database and so thereforce cannot exist. Curiously enough it does appear to exist in whatever junk mail database they use as the ever increasing slice of rain forest that gets shoved through my letter box every other week seems to prove.

BT of course will come as no surprise to anyone. Since my encounter with the Bangalore service desk a few weeks ago I've had several emails from CMC readers who've 'enjoyed' the same level of customer service, based on the mafiosa principle of thinly veiled threats and intimidation it seems. Perhaps the fact that BT fell from being in the top ranking to near top in the worst ranking might give them some pause for thought... but you know I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.

Most surprising to me was Amazon's fall from grace, due it seems to the age old problem of supply chain over Christmas. Every January we seem to end up reading the same old stories about people not receiving granny's new cardigan in time for Chrismas after ordering it from In a lot of these cases the fact that they didn't order it until Christmas Eve probably didn't help. I can't help but wonder whether Amazon is getting flack for the dreadful state of the postal service rather than for any in-built problems itself. I know I received a present from Debenhams Online on the 5th January that had been ordered on the 10th of December. I'm not about to blame Debenhams for that.

Still we have our winners and our losers. Do you agree with the rankings? Let us know what customer experiences you've had with the companies on this list, good or bad.

Stuart Lauchlan
News & Analysis Editor

Find out more about Stuart Lauchlan.

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  • Replies (4)

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    By pclind
    10th Mar 2005 11:16

    Hi Stuart,

    I hope you are not trying to say that the PO is getting better at handeling customer complaints! If you are, then I will have to push you back on that, as I have had very poor performance with regards to getting delivery of what doesn't fit through my letter door. They never answer their customer service lines!


    Thanks (0)
    By dougielb
    10th Mar 2005 14:44

    We are moving house in the very near future and my wife contacted BT to sort out connection etc. A very efficient customer service agent not only sorted everything out in quick time, but enabled us to take our current number with us, booked an engineer just in case the line wasn't automatically switched on on the due date and should be nominated for employee of the month at BT.

    I would have nominated many organisations as far worse than BT given the opportunity by Internet Market Research Services. Just as well for whose website drove us to distraction on Sunday as ASP pages kept on failing and their helpline had closed 30 minutes earlier.

    Thanks (0)
    By blondienat
    10th Mar 2005 15:37

    We currently use Royal Mail to carry about 70-80% of our parcels and I have to say that the service they provide is the No. 1 source of customer complaints, i.e. where is my order?

    Our customer service dept. constantly deals with unhappy customers who have not received their goods in a timely manner (in our case within 48hrs.) I can comiserate with Amazon on this.

    BEWARE! Royal Mail quote up to 10 working days for a 1st class parcel to be delivered and believe it or not, the same applies to Recorded Delivery items!

    Just not good enough.

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    By sonanka
    12th May 2006 09:06

    I have also had a nightmare time with royal mail, the reason, I had the audacity to move house.

    Their re-direction service is a sham, the service line, post office and sorting offices all work to different agendas, the customer service department is unable to actually give you any satisfaction, oh and they still managed to lose two parcels and deliver a bank card 6 weeks late.

    Post watch were involved and finally after 3 months of trying to get Royal mail to explain, had to write to me to apologise but although they believed the service offered was rubbish, they were unable to get royal mail to do anything about it.

    I am reserving judgement on BT as I give them another opportunity to put things right.

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