Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lies Telus Tells

Remember the hippopotamus who used to prance across the tv screen in Telus commercials, the one who eventually ended up dead due to poor treatment. That's my neighbour.

I warned her not to order internet from Telus. But she went ahead, saying they were cheaper than Shaw, and besides she'd had a Telus telephone land line for 20 years.

But after ordering internet service from Telus, she couldn't get the service up and running because she couldn't get through to the technical support line. Her friend who is more tech savy had offered to spend a Sunday evening at her house to help her set it up, but he too became frustrated that they couldn't get through to the tech help line.

My neighbor phoned Telus the following week and cancelled the service. An agent told her she now owes Telus a $120 cancellation fee, that she had a verbal contract with Telus that she must honor.

She says Telus did not honor their verbal contract with her: the contract to provide technical service. She says she emphasized her need for technical service when she spoke to the Telus agent Jeremy who sold her the Telus internet service. Jeremy even checked with one of their technical staff to make certain they could meet her technical needs. He got back to her saying, "They'll walk you through it; just phone the number that comes in the box with the modem."

When she disputed the $120 cancellation fee, a young female agent transferred her to a department with an Orwellian name, "Loyalty and Retention".

Natalie was the agent who took the call in Loyalty & Retention. She had what my neighbor guessed was an Australian accent. Natalie told the customer that she would give her a special phone number -- other than the official one printed on the instructional disk that comes with the modem -- to phone for technical support. "It's like they have this special number to give people who are ready to cancel after they've been put on hold for too long," said my neighbour. Too little to late. "I had packed up the modem and all the cords; everything was back in the box." Telus had lost my neighbour's loyalty.

Natalie was domineering, says my neighbour. "She said I'd be billed the $120 disconnect fee. The customer told her that she had never for one minute actually had an internet connection. Natalie said the internet signal had been running through her line all this time.

My neighbor told Natalie that she was going to fight this as she hadn't agreed to anything, she hadn't signed anything committing to a $120 cancellation fee. But in the interim she felt she couldn't pay her telephone bill because that money might be applied to the disputed internet cancellation fee. "She said I had to pay it or it would be sent to Collections."

Natalie asked her if she wanted to cancel her phone service. She told her she could do it right then and there. "I'll cancel it right now!", she said. That's the loyalty they have to a 25 year customer. "I thought if I cancelled I'd lose my voice mail," says my neighbour, "I had important messages saved and I didn't want to lose them." So she told Natalie, "I'd like to speak to a supervisor first." Natalie said there was no supervisor to speak to, that she was the end of the line. "She was mad", says my neighbour. Natalie asked several times if she wanted her telephone service terminated. "She had her finger on the button", says my neighbour. Disloyalty and Detention.

I later told my neighbour, "Phone back and bypass Natalie." She talked to a young male agent and told him she was afraid to pay her telephone billl for fear the money would go to the disputed $120 fee. He told her to just send the modem back to the Alberta address and give Telus the tracking number so they could confirm it was received. He assured her that then the $120 charge would be taken off her bill. She had no idea he was lying.

She phoned back a week later and gave the tracking number to a female agent. The agent reminded her that she owed a $120 fee. My neighbor explained that the previous man had told her that the cancellation fee had been waived. The agent assured her that she understood and would now waive the cancellation fee. My neighbour had no idea she was lying.

When the customer got her telephone bill, the $120 fee was owing. So she phoned Telus today. She got a female agent with a french accent who said there was a note on the file from Natalie saying that this customer had admitted entering into a verbal contract to pay a $120 cancellation fee. :"I didn't tell her that," my neighbor says.

It was this agent with the french accent who revealed that the previous front-line agents had been lying. She said those agents did not have the authority to waive any fee over $100 and they knew that. My neighbour concludes, "They were just telling me what I wanted to hear and getting me off the line".

Today's agent explained that only the Help Desk can authorize the cancelling of the $120 fee. She went off the line and asked then if they would do it. No way, was their response, the $120 stands. My neighbour asked for the name of the person who had made that decision, so that a record could be kept. The agent said she could "not divulge" that information. She told my neighbour that somebody from" higher up" -- sounds like Loyalty & Retention -- would get back to her today or tomorrow either by telephone or email. Nobody has contacted her yet. But she suspects one thing:

The future is not friendly.