View Full Version : Terrible phone provider service. (Very long)

Golden Phoenix
01-25-2014, 12:13 PM
My phone and internet is provided by a company we'll call All Talk (AT) over here in the UK, i think they operate elsewhere too.

We paid our bill via direct debit once a month since it was the easiest way to do it and and also saved us a little money. (i think we got a 5 discount or something, I can't even remember any more)

In the past we missed a payment here and there and had our services shut off approximately two weeks after the missed payment was due, we always brought it back up to date as soon as we could and knew what was going on. (usually a problem with our bank account or payments not lining up with payday properly)

Our problem came about in late november, our services were shut off unexpectedly so I called AT to find out what was happening. To my surprise and horror AT said we'd not paid them since April and we now owed over 600!!!

I know, i know, i should have been checking my bank statements to make sure all our bills were going out properly, not a mistake I'll make again I can assure you.

During this April-November period all of our services were *fine* and ran as usual, we made calls, we received calls and our internet was fine. Naturally i assumed everything was ok, but apparently, no, they'd let us happily go on racking up a 600 bill.

For a bit of BG, my husband is ill. Very ill, and we need our phone line to get hold of his treatment teams and have them call us. (They won't call a mobile) so not having our phone line was a big problem, because of the size of the bill we couldn't even receive calls. Due to his health Hubby can't work and I don't so I can look after him. Our income per fortnight works out at about 200, maybe a little more via state benefits. We are currently applying for other benefits he's entitled to but they aren't through yet.

I called AT to try and arrange something. I explained the BG, apologised profusely and queried why this had happened. The answer I got: "It was a system error, you should have been cut off". Thanks, useful.

Here's an approximate transcript of the conversation:

Me: Hi, I'm hoping you can help me. I spoke with one of your colleagues and they said we haven't paid anything since april, my husband's seriously ill so i need our services to get hold of his treatment teams and I need to make a payment arrangement or something so we can get our services back on.
AT: Yeah, you owe us 6xx.xx are you going to pay that?
ME: Yes, but I need to come to a payment arrangement so I can get our services back as fast as possible, your colleague said if i get a payment plan we can have services back within 24 hours?
AT: Why didn't you pay your bill if it's that urgent (such a snotty tone)
ME: Well, this is the first we heard of it, since we still had our services I thought everything was fine.
AT: Well you haven't paid since april.
ME: I know, apparently there was a system error and we weren't billed properly.
AT: Can you pay in full?
ME: No, that's why i need a payment plan.
AT: Can you borrow the money from a friend, or family, or take out a payday loan?
ME: ... ... No, we can't.
AT: Right, I can do a payment plan of 6x.xx a fortnight and your services will be back on in 48 hours.
ME: We can't afford that, we only get 200 a fortnight to live on!
AT: This wouldn't have been necessary if you'd paid your bill.
ME: I know, but it's not our fault the money was never taken and we weren't billed. How was I supposed to know there was a problem?
AT: You haven't paid since april.
ME: I know that, but our services were fine, i thought it was being paid OK or we'd have been cut off.
AT: You should have paid your bill.
ME: I didn't get a bill!!!!
AT: But if you don't pay your bill you have to understand you'll get cut off.
ME: I know that, and I thought it was being paid! Please, i need to sort this out, i need to be able to get hold of my husband's medical teams!
*NOTE*: By this point i was crying, hubby was on suicide watch and i needed to get this sorted, we didn't have that kind of money and this woman seemed to be stonewalling me.
AT: If you don't stop crying I'm going to terminate this call. (angry tone)
ME: I'm sorry, i'm just really stressed out.
AT: Well it's upsetting me. You're making this very hard for me.

Include about three more run throughs of "you should have paid your bill" etc and i crumbled and accepted the 60+ a fortnight payment plan, there was no way we could afford it. (We ended up going to the food bank twice just before christmas) I just needed the services that badly.

After getting it all set up I asked to speak to a manager about the billing error that caused all of this in the first place.

AT: I won't put you through, a manager can't so anything for you, you should have paid your bill.

I gave up and ended the call, mentally exhausted. Then I called another company and arranged for our services to be moved as soon as possible.

My main problem was the total lack of any kind of compassion, when she wasn't telling me off for crying she sounded utterly bored and in a couple of places amused by my problem. She wouldn't work with me at all, I guess she was under no obligation to but just telling me, in a nice compassionate voice, "i'm sorry, that's all i can do" would have done the trick.

And as for her angry "You're making this very hard for me" when I became distressed... I will never recommend that company.

Cookies for anyone who made it this far.

01-25-2014, 01:17 PM
That does sound terrible, and also typical for the phone providers here as well.

As much as that employee was being completely indifferent and unsympathetic, it was probably true when they said "You're making this very hard for me". I've heard the rumors from many, the only people the phone companies treats worse than their customers are their employees. It sounds like this phone company puts the employees in the position where the only way to defend themselves against compassion is to dehumanize the customers to point where someone else's suffering is amusing or boring.

Or possibly that particular employee is just a little sadistic.

I wouldn't recommend this phone company to others either, but, in Canada at least, I don't know of a single phone company that I would recommend. Just some that I would denounce less than others.

01-25-2014, 05:45 PM
The employee definitely could have come off as way more sympathetic, but I can understand the employees' position and their probably hearing numerous stories over the years / people who don't take responsibility for keeping track of their bills etc.

01-25-2014, 06:28 PM
Ofcom has some useful information on their website, as do CAB: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/telecoms/
http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/consumer_e/phones_tv_internet_and_computers_index_e/consumer_problems_with_a_bill_e/you_are_struggling_to_pay_your_bills_tv_phones_int ernet.htm

The person who dealt with your call was abhorrent. I would suggest phoning back and trying to reach someone with some basic compassion, they shouldn't get you to pay back at a rate which is unreasonable for you as you're more likely to default again.

Lady Legira
01-25-2014, 06:37 PM
I have a friend who is on All Talk and she has had nothing but problems with them. Her internet cuts out all the time, the phone line cuts out all the time and the company won't do anything to investigate and blame it on the lines dealt with by BT and won't ask for it to be investigated by them. She's limited on choice on providers because she's out in the middle of nowhere too. :(

*hugs* I hate it when companies stonewall you when you are trying to get something sorted.

01-25-2014, 08:46 PM
I fully understand how you feel about the lack of compassion from the creature on the other end of the phone line.

One time when I was in an emergency room waiting room, Bast was with me. I was VERY sick; unable to walk, barely able to talk. Bast was crying quietly, afraid for me. She was quiet - not great gulping sobs or anything, just soft whimpering and tears sliding down her cheeks.

A bitch of a nurse - forgive the language, but dammit, she was - came up and told her to stop crying.
Bast explained that she was frightened for me.
'Well, you're disturbing the other patients.'

For obvious reasons I don't remember much of the conversation, but I do remember that the bitch of a nurse was .. well, as uncompassionate as the creature you talked to on the phone. :mad:

01-25-2014, 08:52 PM
This seems a really obvious question, but have you actually checked your bank account to see if the payments went out? Because I wouldn't just trust their word that you haven't paid.

01-25-2014, 09:25 PM
A bitch of a nurse - forgive the language, but dammit, she was - came up and told her to stop crying.
Bast explained that she was frightened for me.
'Well, you're disturbing the other patients.'

Friend of mine was in ED (ER) with [a medical condition] and was in horrendous pain. She was admonished for crying in pain. Here's an idea, up her pain meds..?!? Was furious when she told me.

01-25-2014, 09:54 PM
AT: Why didn't you pay your bill if it's that urgent (such a snotty tone)
That would've earned an immediate...

Me: I want to speak to a supervisor. No. Stop. Get me a supervisor.

The call would have progressed one of two ways from that point: either I'd kill it and call back again (and unless the call center's really small, get someone else), or I'd get a supervisor... or at least someone else. Either way, I speak with someone else, I win.

Having been a call center monkey before, I'm sure the agent would've seen it as a win for him, too, because I've seen, know, and understand that attitude. I may have had a touch of it myself. The reps that have this kind of attitude are the ones who have detached emotionally and no longer care. Their pitiless callcenter lords have sucked their souls dry, leaving them little more than shells of people, shadows of their former selves. I pity them, and hope they can someday find gainful employment in a job that doesn't turn them into mindless drones...or at least doesn't inflict them on unsuspecting customers.

Golden Phoenix
01-25-2014, 11:51 PM
This seems a really obvious question, but have you actually checked your bank account to see if the payments went out? Because I wouldn't just trust their word that you haven't paid.

I have, and no, the payments never went out.

I know i should have checked but who would suspect that their phone company would leave them for six months without a payment? Like I said, in the past we were cut off after 2 weeks!

01-26-2014, 12:03 AM
Oh honey, I'm so sorry. Check your laws, here if there is a person with medical needs they LEGALLY can NOT cut off service. Also, I'd call back and as soon as you speak with a rep, demand a manager. Is there a local branch you can go to? I'd go there if so, and speak in person.

01-26-2014, 03:38 AM
I'm sure the agent would've seen it as a win for him, too..

Some call centers are countering this behavior with the "timed call back" stat, which means, if a customer calls back within X amount of time, it will count against the previous agent for not solving the problem in the first place.

Mind, it sounds like OP's agent didn't care one way or another, but I'd have called back immediately and asked the new agent for a supervisor, after explaining the issue.

A few years ago, I got a call from one of the companies we owed money to, because apparently I'd sent them the wrong check. It had been a very, very bad week and I was laughing when she told me. She proceeded to rip me a new one for "not taking this seriously." I lit into her, "I'm sorry, I've had a very bad week. You have a choice, either I laugh at this due to it being one of series of mistakes I made or I turn uber bitch. Oops, looks like you already made the choice!" Hung up on her as she sputtered.

She had someone else call me back and transferred my stuff to them from there on. I was much happier with the new person.

01-26-2014, 08:32 AM
Oh yes, know this phone company well...

Two or three years ago, I suddenly lost phone line and internet. Couldn't get a dialling tone, and when I used my mobile to call my home number, I got the engaged tone (even though nobody was on the phone)

Called All Talk - their response was 'BT are responsible for the line'
Called BT - 'Your phone service is with All Talk, you have to go through them'
Called All Talk - 'BT are responsible for the line.....'

Fortunately I have some useful friends, so I called up a guy who used to be a telecom engineer and now trains others, and asked could he possibly help? He turned up that evening, after he'd finished work, sorted out the problem in half an hour and refused any kind of recompense (so I got him a bottle of whisky soon as I could)

But yeah... happy enough to take your money, any problems and you're on your own.

01-26-2014, 11:06 AM
He turned up that evening, after he'd finished work, sorted out the problem in half an hour and refused any kind of recompense (so I got him a bottle of whisky soon as I could).

Good for you. And for him. That's friendship.

Irving Patrick Freleigh
01-26-2014, 05:15 PM
Gee, wasn't it on an old episode of Laugh-In where Lily Tomlin said the phone company's motto was "We don't care. We don't have to."?

It's as true now as it ever was.

01-27-2014, 05:39 PM
wow that really sucks....It's hard when someone won't sympathize at all.

On a note of medical situations and crying, I was crying right during a surgery on my sinuses a few years back, they were finished and packing in the 2 mile long bandage strip they use to pressure pack the inside of your nose. So it HURT. I was crying because of pain and the dr told me to stop it, it wasn't worth crying over. :eek::eek:

more on topic, my gf has had numerous issues with their internet service through their cable company, it's always cutting in and out. Luckily they should be able to get rid of them soon.