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Dave's Blog

This blog is mainly about the things I know and love... technology and gadgets. There's a bit of customer service stuff in here too, both good and bad. There's also some environmental and political comment, and some very personal stuff too. These articles should be regarded as solely the opinion or experiences of the author. If anyone feels that they have been unfairly represented by these articles, please contact me. Any comments are solely the views of the commenters, and unpleasant comments will be removed.

Incommunicado

My Skype account got hijacked the other day, by a nice person with friends or relatives in Nigeria, Belarus, Libya and Yemen. The person managed to spend £9.50 of credit in a couple of hours.

I thought I had a secure password, so perhaps my account details were generously donated by some other nefarious piece of malware or something.

Perhaps the most distressing thing is that I'm not going to get my money back. They suspended my account due to "unauthorised activity", but don't apparently give refunds. Fortunately, my credit card details (which Skype was kindly looking after) had expired, which I presume minimised the damage. It seems also that you can never actually delete a Skype account. Hmmmm. So it's goodbye to Skype for me, and hello to using a real telephone (or a piece of less proprietary software). To be honest, the Android/Windows/Mac clients for Skype have been awful for some time (although you can't argue with the quality of the voice/video), so I won't miss it.

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The Future is Bright

I've now moved the family mobile phones to Everything Anywhere (aka Orange). It must be said, their web-facing IT systems are not great. The online automatic SIM activation page failed 3 out of 4 times, for example. On a positive note, the staff in their non-UK call centres are much easier to understand than the ones in the call centres of my previous provider, 3. It may be because they are located somewhere where the local accent is less pronounced, or maybe they're better trained, I don't know. Either way, I've had no language/accent problems when dealing with them, and they've all been very nice.

So why have I felt it necessary to mention this? Well, it's simply because at some point in the future I shall obviously be ranting about their ineptitude, so this posting was added purely for balance.

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Phoney Customer Loyalty

After several years of being with a particular mobile phone company (I won't be specific, but think of a number between 2 and 4), I decided to change to a different provider. This was due to being able to get a much better deal elsewhere, and because of a change in the existing T&Cs.

Firstly I had to brave the hard sell when I asked for a PAC code. Then, I was informed about some unfathomable charges related to me leaving. These probably would have been fathomable, and may well have been reasonable, but since I could barely understand the person at the call centre, it was hard to know.

Then, two days later, I was phoned by 6÷2. They were offering me twice the minutes, twice the data and a free phone, all at half the price of the existing contract. This was apparently because I have been a loyal customer for 4 years.

To be honest, I would have rejected their offer even if they had been offering to pay me cash. It should not be necessary to have to threaten to leave in order to get a better deal. Good deals should be offered proactively, and should reward customer loyalty. No wonder Three (doh!) keep coming bottom for customer service.

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Baby, It's Cold Outside

It was -8°C in Malvern last night. This morning I went for a walk to the shops, and as usual several of them had their doors wide open, with hot air wallowing out into the street. At this point, the temperature was still well below zero. The main culprits in Malvern are: 

  • Fat Face
  • The Works
  • The Clarks shoe shop
  • Mountain Warehouse

In actual fact, Mountain Warehouse unusually had its doors closed because the heating was broken. I learned this from the Moutain Warehouse shop in Worcester, where the staff were complaining about the cold (inside). I suggested that closing the doors might help, but they informed me that they aren't allowed to. I have actually written to the head offices of some of these organisations, and clearly losing my business is not important to them. Neither is global warming.

Close the Door!

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Small Object of Desire

HTC Desire SI'm a happy bunny, because my wonderful HTC Desire S mobile phone is now fully functional again.

Just after Christmas, the top 5mm of the touch screen stopped working. I couldn't pull down the notification bar, and in landscape mode typing a Q on the on-screen keyboard was pretty much impossible (as was shift). HTC UK customer support were pretty good, and agreed to accept the phone for repair, since it was still under warranty. The phone was collected and returned two days later. Very impressive so far.

The phone returned back having been completely wiped. I was expecting that, and was pleased that it had a new version of the operating system and the HTC Sense UI, which had stubbornly refused to update over the air. I was less pleased about the fact that the original fault was still present. HTC were apologetic, and the phone was again returned. This time it was marked for the attention of a senior technician.

Three days later, back it came. Again wiped, still with a faulty touch screen (if anything, slightly worse). As you can imagine, by this point I was mildly apoplectic. HTC customer services were again apologetic, and offered to have another go at repairing the phone. By this point, I was dealing with "the people who respond to complaints" (Customer Care, I think), who seemed genuinely more concerned about the situation than the regular support people.

Hooray. On the third attempt, the phone came back mended.

This whole process took over 4 weeks, during which time I went and bought a Sony Ericcson Xperia Arc S (now owned by my son… the Desire S is just too nice). This whole episode reflects badly on HTC UK, or rather, on the management of the contract they have with their repairers, Regenersis. Clearly, testing is not their strong point. Whether I'll ever buy another HTC phone, I don't know. I suppose everything worked out OK in the end, but the whole process involved too much stress and parcel tape.

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