Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Steve Baron: The Incompetence of Big Business
If you are by any chance trying to contact me right now then don't bother. My mobile has been blocked so I can't make, or even receive phone calls or texts. Why? Because I haven't paid the bill since moving from Cambridge to Wanganui. That's to be expected I guess, but even though I was very efficient and gave my telecommunications provider my new address before moving, they still sent the bill to the old address. Sure, I left my forwarding address with the new owners, but it seems the bill was never forwarded on to me. I did eventually received an overdue statement but by then it was too late—incommunicado. I tried to phone my telecommunication providers free-call number but I can't even do that—it's blocked too. I wonder if I can still make 111 calls... but thought it wise not to test that. If I need to and it doesn't work I guess you will read about me in the newspapers or hear it on the six o'clock news perhaps?
Banks... I remember selling one of my investment properties. When it came to settle the sale my lawyer informed me the bank was expecting me to pay $50,000 more than I was actually receiving from the sale—even though I was selling it at a profit. I took the matter into my own hands and phoned the head of the mortgage department. I tried to make her understand that I did not have a spare $50,000 just sitting around in a bank account to pay them what I didn't need to pay them in the first place. She was over zealous and was sticking by the rules as the loan was linked across all my lending. In desperation I sent an email to the CEO of the bank who apologised for this over zealousness and was intelligent enough to see the problem. I'm pleased to say that was quickly sorted but only after some very anxious times and the loss of hair.
Could you go without a phone and internet for seven weeks? I once decided to change telecommunication providers to use a new mobile internet and phone service at half the price of my present provider. After the new company had disconnected my old service it soon became obvious that the new service simply didn't work in my location—but no one knew that. I estimated I spent over 100 hours sitting on my mobile (which was with another provider) trying to get the problem fixed. 90 of those hours were waiting on hold and they didn't even have the decency to tune in their music properly so I listened mostly to gargled lyrics. Even when they did eventually answer the calls it was someone with an accent that was almost impossible to understand and extremely difficult and frustrating to have to try and explain my problem over and over again.
The ever efficient and glorious government departments (yes I'm getting sarcastic now). I can remember having to make an application online. The registration and login process for this department seemed more difficult and probably more impenetrable than getting into the CIA database in the USA! How much easier would it also be if these megalomaniacs let me choose my own password? But no—it has to be to their specifications and a password I will never remember again. I spent the best part of an hour filling in the application, but when I completed one section it sent me back to questions I had already answered. I thought I must have been going insane and obviously doing something wrong. When I finally gave up and called their free-call number they realised that everyone was having this problem and the website application form had been set up wrong.
If only these were the only stories I had to tell you. The list goes on almost indefinitely. It
seems impossible to deal with most large organisations these days and many smaller businesses are getting just as bad. Some are also getting very cunning. Have you noticed lately how supermarkets sell products at their usual prices, but the size of the jar/can/tube/packet is now smaller? They are giving you less product for the same price. Now how cunning and deceiving is that. The old adage that there is 'safety in numbers' or, 'big is good', leaves a lot to be desired. If I can find a smaller organisation that does what they say they will do and has the slightest understanding of what customer service is—I'm going to make every effort to use them. Neither will I be sucked into flashy advertising campaigns that tell me how wonderful and understanding large corporations are when I know they aren't! Perhaps our governments aren't the real problem after all... perhaps its New Zealand business that needs to lift its game?
Disclaimer: Steve Baron holds investments in a number of telecommunications companies, banks and a supermarket chain—unfortunately.
at 9:01 PM