Bad Customer Service

Many times I've had particularly bad experiences from the customer disservice departments of large companies. Many people will be familiar with these experiences in which large companies try and ignore you in the hope that you'll go away and stop bothering them. You will usually be fobbed off by first line customer service drones who will tell you that your problem has been fixed, send a message to another person within the company who will then fail to do anything. They will frequently tell you that someone will phone you back within $time which of course they never do. In order to get things done, you have to be rude and get through to a person who doesn't normally deal with this stuff. Those persons are easy to identify because they don't have a prerecorded introduction tape.

The key things that anoy me are:

BT refusing to close my account

I phoned up BT asking them to close my account and cut off my telephone on the grounds that I had moved house. I was informed that in order to do this I would have to quote my customer service number. This number is printed at the top of every bill. I informed them that my telephone bills were at the bottom of an unnamed box and it would take me some time to find them, I did not wish to do this and I wanted my phone cut off. They refused. I then informed the company that I would write to them instructing them to cut off my account. They informed me that they would write back to my previous address with a form for me to fill in to request termination. I offered never to pay them again and they informed me that they would fine me for continued non payment before finally cutting me off some six months later and sullying my credit rating.

The only way I was able to make the take action was by threating them with the UK data protection act. Under this act for a small payment I can request that any company sends me all of it's records about me - both paper, electronic and memorised for a statutory fee - about ten or twenty pounds. Figuring this was cheaper than six months phone service I informed BT that I intended to enact this piece of legislation and they would be hearing from me by letter shortly detailling this. I was immediately put through to someone senior. I repeated to this person my desire to have every piece of data they hold about me in order to get my customer number so I could cut off an unwanted phone line. At this point the senior person agreed that a much better course of action was to schedule termination for a weeks time. Write to my previous address a letter addressed to me informing them this was going to happen and it could only be stopped by a written response signed by me. This worked.


A Natwest had closed my account without telling me. It suspended my ability to take money out, but allowed me to continue blissfully paying money into the now closed account. All this money ended up in a 'holding' account that I was not allowed to access. It took a week of telephoning and several visits to the bank to get this far. After discovering the bank had lost all the original account mandates I had to go and resign all of the forms to get the account reopened. Upon telling the Assitant Branch manager that an opening time of 'sometime this week' was not acceptable and I wanted the account opened today - this was two weeks after we had discovered the account was closed - I asked him to lead me through his banks complaints procedure. I got him to detail to me how I should pass the complaining letter I have written from person to person to ombudsman to court of law. The account was open two hours later.


This company double charged me a bill. Upon asking them for advice about what to do I receive the answer 'pay it and we'll refund it off your next bill'. I pointed out this was my final bill and refused to pay it. They told me that the only thing I could do was to cancel my direct debit to them. This I did. Some months later I received an extremely threatening final demand for the tiny amount outstanding on my account. I telephone their customer service department and stood firm, I wanted a credit for the value of this bill. I spoke to a customer service person who kept informing me that I could be put through since everyone else was out and the only thing I could do would be to pay the bill. I refused, I informed her that I could not be put on hold. I then refused to be put through to anyone else and kept making rude but non abusive suggestions about how good her company was. Eventually she managed to signal to get her manager to come over and her manager repeated the same until she got fed up and wrote off my bill.

Intelligent Finance

My current bank, deserving a whole page to themselves. See Unintelligent Finance


I ordered a kitchen from MFI, I did this online to take advantage of being able to purchase stuff without a 'free kitchen design consultation'. I used their website and it crashed with an MSSQL deadlocked transaction error. Being a web-developer who's used MSSQL I'm well aware about what this means, something timed out and the site gave up. In this case it was the credit card authorisation. As a result barclaycard authorised the transaction after the website had given up trying to process it, result, I get charged and no record was made of the transaction. This also had the helpful side effect of locking me out of every dynamic page on their site until they rebooted their database or web server two days later. This included the contact page.

After arguing at some length that I should be allowed to speak to them - there was a great deal of
Me : Hi, I'd like a refund on my credit card for the order you don't acknowledge
Them : What's your order number
Me : I don't have an order number. That's why I'm phoning. Your website crashed and you took my money.
Them : I'm afraid I can't do anything without your order number as it's not in the computer.
Me : Do I care? You took my money and I want it back. Now.
Them : I'll pass you on to another useless customer service drone who'll say the same thing
and so on. Eventually after four customer service drones repeating the same diaogue with me I got sarcastic which didn't help. I then contacted my credit card company who marked the transaction as disputed so I had 28 days extra to resolve it with MFI before I'd have to start escalating it through barclaycard.

Returning to MFI and pointing out I'd stopped the transaction on my credit card appeared to get me put through to a person without a prerecorded intro who apologised to me and told me that the internet department would speak to me shortly. I asked for a definition of shortly and the response was approximately before the heat death of the universe. Not holding out much hope I was pleasantly suprised to be phoned an hour later and informed I would be getting a full refund and some compensation within two weeks. Unsuprisingly, this was a blatant lie. Leaving them two weeks I phoned back and complained again, again the internet department phoned me back and assured me that I would get a full refund. Pointing out that they had already told me this resulted in in a sheepish oh. My compensation had also disappeared. They did manage to sucessfully credit me 9 weeks after the transaction and still have paid me none of the promised compensation.

Dabs Direct

I shouldn't be too nasty about Dabs since in general their service is pretty good. However they ship expensive computer goods around with no extra packaging. As a result the expensive CD Writer I ordered just before Christmas got 'lost'. I suspect it has something to do with placing a box marked 'Expensive CD Writer, would make an ideal Christmas Present' in the post without the benefit of brown paper. Still they shipped out a replacement two weeks later without complaint.

They've consistently shipped lots of other stuff since on time, so I guess that was just a one off.

Supreme O Glaze

I sent this complaint to the Telephone Preference Service about this company.

I received three calls in quick sucessions, the first from 'Supreme Promotions', who purported to be carrying out Market Research over which Double Glazing offer I would find most attractive. This was followed up by a second call from "Supreme O Glaze" offering me the offer I had just stated I would find most attractive. They defended their call to me saying that I 'must have not ticked a box on a bank statement recently'. I informed them that I was TPS registered, I would be reporting them and I did not wish to hear from them again. A minute later I received another call from 'Supreme Promotions' attempting to carry out the same 'Market Research', I informed them I was TPS registered and would be reporting them.


Barclaycard deserve a mention only because they seem to be a uniquely helpful company with customer service people who can make things happen. I suspect this may be because I have never paid them any interest and they would like me to do so. Every request I've ever made has been dealt with within 24 hours, their advice has been useful and they are able to actually tell you things without putting you through. When I needed to extend my credit limit for the second time in three months for an exceptional purchase [a thing not allowed thing according to their rules] the person listened to my situation, asked a bunch of credit related questions, phoned someone up and managed to get the application approved. I was amazed!

Well, it was all bound to go wrong sooner or later. Firstly they've decided I really need a personal loan and some credit card debt because I don't have any so they now write to me constantly encouraging me to get into debt. Then they changed their terms and conditions so you now get fined £20 for missing a payment in addition to paying the interest - I of course found out about this by missing a payment. As a result on the payment I missed the effective interest rate was 56%, I complained to them and they've refunded the charge, but not before I got a cashback credit card from Smile who give me more free stuff, haven't merged with Nectar and allow me to pay my full bill by direct debit.

Redbus Interhouse

As director of Mythic Beasta we've moved to our own dedicated hosting space. We tried to buy an InterShelf from Redbus Interhouse. This is specified as

A quarter rack (11U),
perfect for small operations
Height: 11U (19.25”)
Width: 600mm
Depth: 800mm
However, as we discovered, it's only 600mm deep, which is a big problem if your servers are say 650mm deep, and it has no rack rails, which is odd for a rack. We've had to upgrade to a full InterRack to get the bits we wanted which means we've about 40U of co-lo space going - buy it here.

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