Tue, 29 Jun 2010
Another day, another bill
Like most countries, the UK has been valiantly trying to force consumers to reduce their paper usage. Let's set aside the fact that most paper is not generated by consumers. And that, it isn't about reduce usage but reducing expenses relating to delivery of this paper.
Let's us also leave aside the fact that most airlines want consumers to print out their boarding cards at home. Because it reduces expenses incurred in maintaining staff at airport check-in counters. Anyway, most communications providers have taken up this challenge by making it more expensive to obtain a paper bill.
But I don't want a paper bill, per se, what I am really after is a copy of the bill I can keep for my own records. And print if I so need to.
But neither of them allow you to obtain a copy of the PDF that would have been printed and sent to you.
Instead you have to fart-arse around with their systems to get (at best) a CSV file.
Why, oh why, can neither of them just send the PDF that was going to be generated? That have a bill run process anyway, it generates the PDF, sends the emails, and then promptly discards the PDFs. That would mean I have an immediate archive of all my bills from both companies in my email.
Wed, 13 May 2009
That basically sums up my interactions with TalkTalk, so far.
But, let's begin at the beginning.
Having moved to Edinburgh earlier in the year, and finding a place, the next most important thing is to get connected to the 'Net. I had a look around at various deals. The closest the UK has to broadbandchoice.com.au is SamKnows.
It basically told me that in my exchange area I could choose between BT, TalkTalk and Virginmedia. Despite the fact that LLU has been around for longer here than in Australia very few companies choose to put in their own equipment. That is because openreach, apparently, do not attempt to charge an arm and a leg for their service. Just an arm and a foot.
I quickly discovered my choices were:
Obviously, this was a no brain-er. Particularly as the "activation" here is related to re-connecting the MDF(and/or street cabinet) back to the exchange — which is literally 10 metres walk away from me. I choose TalkTalk.
TalkTalk's offer was (at time of writing – 2009-05-12), £11.25 line rental and £6.49 for broadband. Yes, £17 / month. As offers go, it is not a bad one. I get unlimited (i.e. no longer than 60 mintues) call to any landline in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
The first catch is that whilst the offer is for 18 months, if you are a "new" customer, you have to sign up for 24 months.
That is because TalkTalk have no confidence in the quality of their product or it's continued competitiveness. There can be no other reason, since you are also obliged to pay more for a 'new' install.
I believe that is broken because it was never any specific persons' job to think about it.
The second catch that occurred is the wait time. I know this information after the fact, after having discussed it with a number of TalkTalk employees, but their systems impose a minimum 14 day (that is working days) delay before submitting an order to BT.
This means that from the time you order the Phone + Broadband service, it can be up to 6 — yes, six — weeks before you have network connectivity.
Catch 3 is not having any access / idea about your usage -- but being charged for it!!!
Again, you get unlimited usage (i.e. up until 40Gb) but there is no mechanism to see your existing usage for the month. Why bother to charge for something where there is no meter?
Catch 4 is having to specifically sign-up to new 'price plans' -- why not just make it automatic?
It is good that price changes are announced in the corporate blog but as it notes on TalkTalk price changes, you have to opt-in to every change which is beneficial to you. For every change (rental increase, etc.,) that is not; you are automagically opted in. Nice.
Catch 5 is discovering that the blog engine will take your comments but moderate them out the wazzo. My comment was about Catch 4 -- price increases you are automatically opt-ed in for, whereas price decreases you are not.
Catch 6 is finding out that whilst TalkTalk can email you, you can never respond to an email -- you either have to use their 'contact us' web form, or ring.
What is with arrogant companies who want to use email as a one-way tool? Why can't they tie the sending address to a ticketing system so that if/when a customer replies it can be looked at? This is trivial to do, and I've done it at a number of companies. Without exception, when customers realise they can use the existing tools -- rather than to find the number on the website, or work out some stupid 'contact us' form they are happier.
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