And the rewards for the worst customer service go to… | Money


Once upon a time there was a mouse pad. A mouse pad that threatened to undermine global efforts to avoid nuclear war. The sale photo on Etsy showed a flawless rubber rectangle, handcrafted in Leicester, with a Persian carpet design. But PayPal ruled that it had violated international sanctions and suspended the unsuspecting buyer’s account.

To understand the modern business model – and the content of my consumer inbox – look no further than this “illegal” article.

A computer algorithm had decided the carpet was contraband Iranian, computer software suspended the customer’s PayPal account, automated warnings threatened to end unless the customer could prove it was from, and customer service agents seemed helpless. to apply human logic.

It’s the same artificial intelligence and human apathy that forced graduates to keep funding repaid loans, informed an Ovo client they owed £ 19,000 for two months of energy, and authorized a change 10-minute flight schedule to derail a honeymoon.

Add to the mix this year’s double act, Brexit and Covid, which gave businesses two new cast-iron excuses to bypass consumer rights law. As much of the nation retired to the couch to work and Brexit blurred the rules, the computer was given greater and greater control and customers found themselves trapped in limbo. “Kafkaesque nightmare” is a recurring expression of our literary readers.

As always, there are so many worthy nominees, but it was a pleasure to narrow them down to the following points on customer service. In any case, the client was not offered efficient service until after my intervention.

The dumbest excuse

A common gong for eBay and the delivery company UPS. When MRS from Manchester sought reimbursement from an eBay seller for a £ 130 GPS which never arrived, it was refused. eBay sided with the seller as tracking showed the item had been delivered – in their trash. How could UPS have known that, without a notification card, MRS would not think of checking his trash can before the day of the collection?

Bleeding heart for empathy

NS&I has gone to great lengths for this honor. He twice informed a grieving man that he left £ 14,000 from his late sister’s pension scheme before realizing he had sent the forms to the wrong parent. Then he mistakenly told the father of the deceased to expect £ 19,000. The bequest was in fact intended for the grandson who, in proud Scottish tradition, had the same name, but a different address from that of his father and grandfather. The “sensitive claims” department discovered that it had lost the late woman’s letter of instruction and, in her absence, refused to discuss the inheritance with her executors.

Surrealism in Whitehall

The British government is sweeping the table. Make your choice. The Department of Work and Pensions misunderstood its own rules and penalized a universal credit applicant for failing to apply while in an induced coma. The Home Office, whose rules on residence permits are so deceptive and whose position, when applicants are duly misled, so uncompromising, that an eligible spouse has been denied indefinite leave and has presented a £ 1,000 bill for NHS services.

Or there are the multi-million pound reforms of the Justice Department to streamline the probate service. The closure of local probate offices, a new online system declared unsuitable by law firms and a Covid backlog have left families in a legal limbo for up to nine months.

The most cunning evasion

What could be more risky – explosives or shoes? The two get an equal score, according to courier company DPD. His position is perfectly logical. It allows customers to book delivery for an identified item, pay extra for insurance coverage, and then, if the shipment is missing and a claim is made, they can avoid a payment by stating that it is listed. on a list of prohibited items with human flesh. and counterfeiting of currency.

Vigilant customers who study shipping exclusions may not be more savvy. DPD prohibits the sending of “personal effects”, while Hermès refuses to pay compensation in the event of destruction or loss of “composite articles of any description” or “articles which can be exchanged by themselves, or with any other article, against money or goods or services ”.

Brexit bonus

WK Hours of Cumbria’s deliberate lockdown were spent challenging a £ 111 customs charge on a £ 12 wall mount. It had been omitted from a delivery from German company Loxhome in November 2020 and sent separately in the New Year. By then, post-Brexit customs charges had taken effect. The tranche duty was applied to the entire £ 460 order. WK delivery refused to avoid charges. But the UPS courier returned to slip it into his mailbox and, when the Observer intervened, debt collectors were suing him for £ 115.

Meanwhile, a new identity was the Brexit bonus for some surprised EU nationals who had been granted European settlement status in the UK. A Home Office computer anomaly meant that women who had lived for decades under their married last name were registered under their birth name which appears first on some EU passports. They risked losing access to services because proof of their residency rights did not match official documents.

The great artists of escape

Holidays! Do you remember those getaways on the Mediterranean beaches of yesteryear? While the few who have dared to set their sights on sunny climates are fighting for refunds for canceled trips, many of those who have played it safe and booked locally are also out of pocket. A reader went to Cornwall, only to find that the five-star resort he had reserved had no record of him. reassured the family that they had been re-rented – in the alluring suburb of Uxbridge, 400 km away.

Airbnb, meanwhile, ruled that the blocks are not a mitigating circumstance for cancellation and refused to require hosts to reimburse guests whose travel has been banned by government rules, while deducting its 15% service charge from hosts who decided to do the right thing.

Distinguished Order of Desertion

The big banks can share this among themselves to abandon the victims of poverty scams. Criminals have once again been the biggest winners from Covid with increasingly sophisticated strategies for gaining access to personal accounts. The good news is that the big banks have pledged to reimburse victims who have not been unduly negligent. The bad thing is that they often do their best to get by.

I investigated unreimbursed losses of £ 900,000 this year and persuaded banks to reimburse 54%, including a £ 225,000 pension jar stolen from a retired detective by an investment firm cloned.

Nationwide deserves the spotlight for failing to protect and refuse to repay a retiree’s £ 70,000 in savings, stolen in an equally sophisticated scam. He finally offered to reimburse her a year later following a contact with the Financial Ombudsman Service.


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