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spikegifted - Services


Many years ago, someone thought of providing additional services to customers. For the few companies that offered additional services at no extra cost to their customers, that was great for everyone: great for the customers for they were getting something free and great for the companies for they have a competitive advantage over their rivals. As time goes by, more and more companies recognized that people expect good after-sales services and they will lose customers if they don't have these services. So nearly everyone has customer services. Over time, customers services become so common that no company can do without them, but there is a cost to the companies. Some companies managed to keep the costs of these services away from the products as they figure that in the end, good customer care will make them more money than the cost of providing the care.

Fast forward to the present day: everyone expects after-sales customer care and they expect these services to be free of charge. However, there is still a cost to provide these services, so companies look for ways to compensate: outsourcing to developing countries or increase the cost of the basic product to cover the costs. While the costs of providing services are now 'built in' to the nominal costs of the products, we are actually paying for something that we may or may not need. I'm certain that some very clever statisticians have worked out the likelihood of a given group of customers would need the 'additional' services, and this probability is used to figure out how much support the company should provide, which in turn will determine the additional cost of the products. For those who don't need the additional services, this cost is just an annoyance - another way for companies to part us from our money for something that we don't use. On the other hand, as and when we choose to use the services, we should expect them to be good.

The problem is, as you can guess, the services provided are not good. This applies both the services bought and those that are considered 'after sales'. In the UK, services provision is just plain poor. Unlike places in North America and other parts of the world, good services is not a given. In fact, an average customer expects bad services and should he or she manages to obtain the services required without aggravation, it is considered a major achievement.

Some people said that as the UK is a free market with careful regulations protecting consumer rights, should a supplier provide substandard services, customers will simply move to ones what provide better services. However, that is not necessarily the case. First of all, there is a certain inertia that exist within the British public - they don't like change. Then, there are suppliers who put down quite ridiculous terms, which they somehow manages to blame others for, to make the process of changing from one supplier to another as painful as possible. Finally, you discover that despite all the marketing claims, the new supplier actually provides services that are as bad or worse than the one you just switched from, as suppliers figure that if they all provide poor services, the only people that will lose out will be the customers.

Below is a selection of some of the suppliers that I've run across which are particularly frustrating. It's not intended as a 'name 'n shame' of poor service suppliers, it's just a way for me to air my anger of these horrible people who either make my life a misery or are just pain irritating. Should you have other entries you'd like me to consider, or you feel that I'm being too hard (or too soft) on some of these people, please let me know.

BT (May 23, 2005)

QXL (May 21, 2005)

London Electricity (January 7, 2002)

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