I've had various experiences, or in some cases lack of experiences, with several service providers over the last few weeks. The differences between the different organisations and how communication and choices have been handled is interesting to say the least.
Our bank has decided to charge for its current account. Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Our account has been changed, has had extra features added, for which we will be charged a monthly fee. If we don't like it, we can switch to a new, basic package (offering very much what we used to have anyway), but if we do nothing will be kept on the new account-with-frills even though we didn't ask for them in the first place.
I don't, at all, like being signed up for something without being asked first, even if I'm given an opt out. I'm idle. I procrastinate. I'm exactly the kind of person who is going to fail to opt out, even if opting out is the best option for. But we have been provided with the form if we want to opt out and the features of each of the accounts have been clearly spelled out.
What we don't have is a request for the information they need for the travel insurance, card protection and mobile phone insurance that are offered as part of the new package. In theory, my phone is covered, but they know nothing about this phone's details or even if I have one. I guess that means if I try to make a claim, I won't be able to.
So, were I awarding points, I'd be giving $US Bank* about 4/5.
I have insurance on my mobile phone arranged by my mobile phone company. The mobile phone company have changed which insurer they use. They've written to me to tell me about this change and have given me the chance to opt out of this contract with no penalties (ie they're treating it as if I've been sold in new policy and I have the cooling off period). Nothing else is changing. If they hadn't told me about it, I wouldn't even have noticed when next month I had a different insurer.
Points for ‘Phone company: 9/10.
TV, broadband and landline
We're now with our third cable TV company. That's over a period of 15 years and the changes have never been our choice, but entirely due to company takeovers. When the last takeover occurred, very recently, I got a cheery but uninformative letter (dated January, arrived in February after the business changed) and an insulting brochure from the allegedly charismatic and fun businessmen associated with the brand. What I didn't get was any information about how my old bundle of services (phone plus broadband plus cable TV plus extra channels) mapped onto the new offerings. The insulting brochure, which seemed to assume I was a teenager with a stereotypical teenager's wants and needs (were I a teenager I'd've been insulted, too), didn't list such things as TV channels included in any particular package and the small print at the end was sufficiently small I gave up trying to read it. One of the things it did mention was the fact that there'd be an extra charge for paying by cheque rather than direct debit. For historical reasons, I received two bills, one for a fixed amount for some of the rental part of the services we received, the other which included the small variable amount for phone calls made. The fixed one was paid by direct debit; the one with the variable amounts wasn't. I wondered what would happen with this, since there was no indication as to how our bills would change with the change of supplier. I'd have liked to have had it explained to me, but it wasn't. Last month I got one bill, direct debited, for the entire amount. No explanation, but at least I didn't get stung for an extra payment on one bill without being given the chance to make the change myself. (Of course, I'd rather go on paying by cheque: that way I check there's nothing funny going on with the amounts charged.)
Wednesday night, the Sky fell in. Now, what I don't watch a lot of TV, some of what I watch has gone: no Bones ;-(
There's "information"** on the corporate website, but I don't suppose we'll be getting a letter from that charismatic businessman, apologising for the loss of service and reducing my monthly payment, any more than there was a proper set of terms and conditions and confirmation of what services we were being provided with at what price.
Points for nthell's successor: 1/10.
What to do, switcheroo?
I'm in a position where I can do nothing to fix all of these things and, save for the loss of David Boreanaz, if I do nothing I'll be getting much the same as before, maybe a little more, and paying a little more. Actually, I'll be doing some sorting out. What irks tho' is I'll be reducing the amount paid to the folk have been most transparent and communicative about what's been going on: I'll be canceling the mobile phone insurance, since that's one of the items included in the new banking deal. This, plus switching who I pay for my card protection, ie canceling where it is now and signing up with the same service via the bank, will save a large proportion of the amount we'll be paying in account charges. So the additional features, travel insurance, identity theft insurance, etc will be effectively costing us the difference: about four quid a month. Apart from needing to chase up ensuring the insurance policies and the card details are all up-to-date, a reasonably simple switch.
The cable/broadband/landline situation is altogether more difficult.
We quite frankly don't need a landline. Even when the current free deal on voipprovider runs out, I think for the amount of phoning we do, it, plus an actual phone handset to use it with and a dial in number is probably just as good a deal as a landline. I do, after all, have a mobile phone as backup and in real emergencies acquiring a pay as you go phone is as hard as walking down to the supermarket and picking one up. We could, without losing too much we wanted, slim down our TV channels, although I'm still not clear which package offered either by the cable company or the satellite company will offer what we want (for instance; ensuring we continue to get the radio stations we listen to, or we'll have to buy another DAB radio). Sorting out broadband provision is complicated too: we either need to do it via the cable from the cable company or we need, as far as I can tell, a BT phone line (which we don't have and don't want).
There's a bigger problem in choosing what to do with the cable TV. To get back what we have lost means switching to the very company that is on the other side of the dispute that has caused the loss of the service in the first place. I'm not sure I want to put my business with the odious Australian any more than I want to have it with the ballooning buffoon.
* Names disguised to protect the innocent.***
** For which, understand insults and blather.
*** But not that much....