This weekend I had problems with my Oyster so I contacted TFL today to try and get it sorted. After some unhelpful ‘help’ from customer support, I was told I needed to transfer to another line to get a refund. Thirty minutes of a repeated message and muzak later it cuts off!
It certainly feels like every time I call customer services the hold is getting longer and longer. Earlier this year I spent an hour on hold for NPower before it too cut off. I guess there’s an auto hang-up after a certain period, but the cut off just makes it worse – all that waiting for nothing! Sky, O2 and Halifax have also recently forced me to endure a loop of Coldplay and Mumford for far longer than I’d like.
Online chats aren’t that much better. You might get to ‘speak’ to someone a little quicker, but as they’re chatting to multiple people, I often find myself waiting 3 or 4 minutes between responses.
It’s not exact but thinking back over the last six months, I think I’ve probably been kept on hold for at least 6 hours. Let’s say that carries on over the year – that’s 12 hours a year. If that’s true I’m spending A WHOLE DAY every two years on hold!! If I live until I’m 80, and forget before I was 18, that would be a whole month of my life!
I could be all sort of exciting things instead – and lets face it pretty much anything is!
If you’re having customer service problems, here are a couple of tips to save you money and time.
1. Don’t Pay For Premium Numbers
Most call centres are likely to use an 0845 or similar number. Even if it’s 0800 most mobile contracts exclude them from your pre-bought allowance. You’ll pay for these calls and 30 minutes won’t be cheap.
First look for a call from abroad number, which will usually start +44. Drop those digits and replace with a 0 and it’ll be a normal UK number. Many numbers (including any goverment call centres) are changing to 0345, which will probably be included in your mobile minutes (check first), so see if you can find one of those.
If you have no luck, this site is essential. Say No To 0870 lists 1000s of alternative numbers. Read our full Clever Site guide to learn more.
2. Use Social Media
After my TFL experience earlier I tweeted to followers to see if they’ve had any nightmare experiences on hold. Ten minutes later TFL tweeted me with an email address. It might not solve the problem but it seems putting a little public exposure on poor customer service can make companies a little proactive.
3. Try On-Line Chats For Easy Questions
I know I said it can be frustrating, but if it’s a simple issue it’ll probably be the quickest option.