BitDepth 571 - April 10

After years of good service, TSTT drops the ball spectacularly on my DSL service
More retrograde steps: TSTT's lousy customer service

TSTT's DSL connection takes some heat. Bun dem! Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

March was a landmark month in my relationship with TSTT as a broadband provider. It was my second "birthday" of signing up with the company for their DSL service, and in recognition of that achievement, TSTT provided me with less broadband for the dollar than I'd ever had before.
My conservative estimate is that I was completely without an Internet connection for at least seven full days in the month, the most appalling performance I'd experienced from any ISP in the 15 years I've been paying for a connection to the Internet.
Now the lack of service would be bad enough without the accompanying dance I had to engage in everytime the connection dropped.

A notebook of woe.
No connection, web pages cannot be found; e-mail cannot be cleared. Ping and traceroute fail.
Log into the DSL modem and check connection status.
Call TSTT. Wait.
Wait some more.
Switch the phone to loudspeaker because my neck is getting tired.
Thirty minutes later the automated advertising for TSTT's currently nonexistent service abruptly cuts off, evidently more exhausted than I am.
Smarter now, I switch to loudspeaker immediately and find something else to do in earshot of the phone.
Service person answers.
Service person insists on running through service script before escalating query, so I do everything I did before calling again.
The query is escalated to another person to make a repair request. The call is lost.
Redial. Sing the chorus now.

Draining the goodwill reservoir
Multiply this experience by five and you might have some idea why I can't wait for Flow to install its new cable systems in St James now that my contract is up.
It wasn't the problems with DSL that has me so annoyed, though not having Internet access is beginning to feel a lot like an addiction withdrawal.

I understand that things go wrong and really, TSTT had delivered almost flawless service for the duration of my two-year contract with them, so there was a lot of residual goodwill to be tapped.
So what drained that reservoir so quickly?
Talking at people isn't the same as talking to them.

This problem affected almost everyone I know with DSL service in this area of St James, and nobody got the same story. It was a cut in the fiber line. It was a problem with the exchange. We are looking into it. There was not a straight answer to be found no matter whom you spoke with.
It was as if being a customer meant you had no right to know why there was no service and asking was just making a nuisance of yourself.

This is fundamentally wrong. Telling the truth about a problem proactively, even if it's embarrassing, ensures that there's just one story to manage.
An upfront truth might get you a slap on the wrist, but that's nothing compared to the customer relations whipping you're in for if you lie or dissemble.

Pay for your mistake.
Hours without service is one thing. Days is quite another. Somewhere in TSTT there is a logbook that details exactly what happened in St James during March and how long it took before service was restored.
Because there is no mechanism to turn those log entries into customer value, TSTT defaults to bluff and bluster ("You'll have to file a query, sir.") to navigate a situation in which it clearly owes paying customers a rebate for failing to provide service.
There's a mechanism for tracking when I pay my bill and I'm sure a red flag would go up if I paid my bill minus seven days worth of service. Why isn't there one that tracks failures that run beyond 6 hours and automatically rebates customers who are affected?
This is an opportunity, not a liability. Why do I even have to write this?

Sure it will cost some money. Maybe we'll see the ad with Brian Lara and Spalk on the beach with the little fella a little less often.
But maybe we might also begin to feel that we represent something more to TSTT's customer relations than a spigot of money that turns on once a month.
blog comments powered by Disqus