05 March 2006

Sunday 5 March 2006

It is now Sunday night, and as I reflect on recent events in my life, I would like to write about two that concern me right now.

First, my hot water. As I wrote earlier in my first blog, there have been problems with the boiler that was installed in my flat in January 2006, which was installed by United House for the local council, to replace old storage heaters with a modern gas central heating system. But the boiler, made by Vaillant, has so far not fully worked properly in providing hot water. The central heating works great, and I have a lovely warm flat. But the hot water sometimes works and sometimes does not. An engineer came a few days ago to replace a part inside the boiler which he thought would fix the problem. But it only worked okay after that for 2 days, and all weekend it has been not providing much hot water at all. So tomorrow, Monday, I shall have to call United House again and get them to sort out something to fix my boiler. It may even be necessary to replace the boiler. I have no idea what is wrong with it, but I expect a brand new boiler to work perfectly, especially one that retails for around £900. Hopefully someone will take the responsibility to fix it, otherwise I shall be complaining to the Council (my landlord) about this.

The other thing that bothers me today, was when I went to buy a train ticket to visit my girlfriend. I do this every Sunday and travel on the c2c train company. Throughout 2006, according to their website and other promotional literature, at weekends only, they offer a 25% discount on all tickets for use on their trains, including travelcards for use in London (but only if the travelcard is purchased at a station outside London). Anyway, the point is, I have been paying the right fare, including the 25% discount, each Sunday I go to visit her. But twice so far, I have almost been overcharged. The first time, last month, the sales clerk at the ticket office had no idea of this weekend discount offer, and had to ask another member of staff when I insisted to him that this offer existed and was advertised on the c2c website. So i got the ticket at the correct price. But today I almost had the same experience again, as this ticket clerk today (not one I had seen before, maybe he was new there) tried to charge me the full amount instead of the discounted price. So I told him that it should be less and he then agreed and apologised for the mistake. So either he was new and made a genuine mistake, or, c2c are deliberately not giving their customers the 25% discount they are entitled to unless the customer makes a fuss about it. And that is just not right. c2c, or any other company, should not state that everyone gets a discount at weekends and then sneakily not apply that discount to the customer’s purchase. It is like stealing. So I hope that c2c are not going to do that. Also, I have noticed so far this year, that heating on c2c trains does not work properly, and only on 1 journey did it work. I complained to them, but they denied there was a problem. So I don’t think their customer service people really care.

There are some companies in the UK with good customer service people who are very good, some are quite good, but far too many are lousy. Some of the lousy ones, in my experience, include: NTL, OneTel, MyDV, Microland Technologies, Eastern Electricity, Powergen, Kaspersky, Vista Print, Sage, Call18866, Parcel 2 Go, Serif, Panda Software; some of these companies have since gone bust.
Some of the good companies include:
British Telecom, F-Secure, SafariQuip, TalkTalk.

Let us hope that all UK companies start to implement good customer service programmes so that they build good relationships with customers instead of just making customers feel like they should go elsewhere.

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