What are some general issues you experience with companies' customer service?

Hello folks,

The MSE Campaigns team is keen to hear about any general issues you experience with companies' customer service. Do you have any insight to share?

It's a wide open question and they're interested to hear anything/everything, but here are some questions to get you started:

  • Have you found it's difficult to get through to some companies on the phone?
  • Are webchats useful or disconcerting (eg, not knowing if you're talking to a human or AI)?
  • Do you find deliveries generally go smoothly, or horribly wrong?

Thanks very much for your time.


MSE Laura F



  • Norman_Castle
    Norman_Castle Posts: 11,871
    Photogenic First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary
    I find it annoying when organisations or companies invite responses through call centres or similar but fail to respond to questions they don't have an answer to or more annoyingly invent a reason to hide that they don't have an answer. Its unprofessional at both the customer facing level and at management level.

  • Sooler
    Sooler Posts: 3,106
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Phone menus, where you know selecting anything other than sales puts you in a less important slower queue.

    Out of date information on stale websites.

    Store staff hiding thinking you'll stop waiting to be served and go away.

    Phone staff who's primary objective is to end the call as quick as possible by inventing complete rubbish. Talk Talk

    Slow workers on epxress checkouts.

  • hugheskevi
    hugheskevi Posts: 3,743
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post Car Insurance Carver!
    edited 14 July 2021 at 7:57AM
    • Have you found it's difficult to get through to some companies on the phone?
     About 50% of the organisations I call, which is very rare as phone call is my least preferred method of engagement, have some form of frustration built-in. Up to a 5 minute hold is acceptable, but anything more than that demonstrates the company doesn't resource its communications effectively, and is happy to treat its customers with contempt. Usually, as I would only call a company when there are no other options, it is the least efficient companies I am calling, as all the others will have information or other ways to do whatever I want to do. Utility companies are easily the worst in this regard, followed by banks.
    This is compounded when you are reassured every 30 seconds that your call is important, or that call volumes are much higher than expected (they are much higher than expected at all times of day it seems...) or that COVID is still impacting their services - that was an acceptable excuse over a year ago, now it is embarrassing to use it as an excuse and shows an incompetent company unable to adapt its service provision.
    Very few companies provide an expected wait time, and those that do often give one that is completely wrong.
    Probably the most frustrating thing is when there is no option to do what you want to do online - notably cancel account, and you have to call. Then you have to listen about how did you know they have a website (really? who knew!) and they even helpfully spell out the address (Google isn't a thing, presumably). After that you can get into a lengthy menu of options, with painfully long descriptions about things you don't want to do. Once you finally get to the point of actually speaking to someone, there is a reasonable chance of the call dropping.
    Having a time from call to operator interaction for something that cannot be done online in excess of about 5 minutes is unacceptable, but in some cases you haven't even got through the call menus in that time.
    • Are webchats useful or disconcerting (eg, not knowing if you're talking to a human or AI)?
    I'm a convert to webchat, after initial scepticism. The agents operating them seem better informed than phone operators and I have a record of the interaction.
    But if companies have operators doing too many web chats at the same time it is terrible, with long waits between responses and lots of please waits. This has got a lot better in recent times though.
    • Do you find deliveries generally go smoothly, or horribly wrong?
    Working from home has massively changed this so that all go smoothly. When house was empty all day deliveries were problematic and I would far prefer companies that could tell you when goods would arrive or have local collection points.

  • oldagetraveller1
    oldagetraveller1 Posts: 1,258
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 14 July 2021 at 9:23AM
    An energy supplier, which I have recently left, are not contactable by phone(unless in an emergency!) and they have closed their webchat facility. The only means of contact is via e-mail which takes them two or three weeks to answer, if they do.
    Their excuse - like many others, the lurgi, whichever letter of the Greek alphabet is flavour of the week.
  • JJ_Egan
    JJ_Egan Posts: 20,281
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Total basic lack of knowledge of the law in regards to Consumer Rights .
    Standard reply  outside 28 days  , its the manufacturer .
    We have no liability in law .
  • SonOfPearl
    SonOfPearl Posts: 368
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    I like webchats as I find it easier to express myself in writing, rather than speak on the phone. Plus, you can normally have a record of the webchat to keep for future reference and it's usually quicker to get through. But it's still only as good as the customer service assistant you deal with. I recently had to contact my energy supplier three times by webchat before I got an assistant who properly understood my issue and was able to help. Having someone with English as their first language is so important. Dealing with overseas customer services with the language and culture barrier is awful. 

    As far as deliveries go, I think it should be possible for delivery companies to provide accurate tracking so that customers have a much better idea of when a delivery will arrive. No-one should have to wait in all day for a delivery when the technology exists to track delivery vehicles doing their rounds. 
  • briskbeats
    briskbeats Posts: 434
    Name Dropper First Post
    I don’t like call centres that the staff have to follow a script 100% and get nothing out of them. I worked in call centres and only had to follow the script for dictating the direct debit guarantee and a couple of others about contracts etc. After that, I had free will to talk to customer to help them.

    Personalisation adds customer service.

    Another bug bear of mine, B&M, Poundland - I’m talking to you. I’m not interested in buying a bar of chocolate and other stuff you want to sell at the till, Especially when I come to the till with healthy store cupboard items - rice, chopped tomatoes, tinned pulses etc. If I want a bar of chocolate, I would put it in my shopping!
  • Carrot007
    Carrot007 Posts: 4,534
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post

    Another bug bear of mine, B&M

    Not your issue, but them and home bargains with the specific choccies onyl available there. So becuase their till plan is 1 operator unless more than 80 queing so I like to go less often... They look at me blankly when I say 30 bars. and then scan each one individually. Ahh well.
  • MovingForwards
    MovingForwards Posts: 16,817
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    Staff providing an answers to every question aside from the one I've asked.

    Staff not assuming responsibility for something but keep passing me around.

    Providing full information to show where the problem is to make it easier for companies to deal with, including supporting evidence, resulting in nearly a year of correspondence to resolve something simple.

    Staff providing incorrect information.

    As I'm so jaded with experiences I only use webchat and email, where I can save communications and build up long chains where I've tried to resolve things.

    Not being kept updated with progress.

    In shops it's dreadful to have no acknowledgment I'm waiting to be served at the til. 

    Having tags left on the shopping then having to return to the til and have them removed.
    Mortgage started 2020, aiming to clear it in 2026.
  • pollypenny
    pollypenny Posts: 29,389
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Accents which are difficult to understand. 
    Member #14 of SKI-ers club

    Words, words, they're all we have to go by!.

    (Pity they are mangled by this autocorrect!)
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