November 16, 2010

Dutch comedian declares war on customer service desks

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:08 am

(“My fingers are itching… death to all customer service departments and impenetrable multinationals. Time for a fun revolution… I’m up for it.”)

Customer service here is so bad that Dutch comedian and columnist Youp van ‘t Hek decided to dedicate his column in NRC newspaper (Dutch) to exposing bad customer service after his own son battled a mobile phone provider for months to no avail. His own experience seems to be that these corporations only respond to public humiliation by celebreties and the fear of being exposed rather than actually provide ‘customer service’.

In late October Van ‘t Hek twittered about his son’s broken mobile phone woes and went on a talk show the same day to tell his tale. After appearing on TV and naming and shaming the mobile phone provider logo and all, the problem was taken care of faster than the speed of light. In other words, if you’re famous and bitch on Twitter to your 45,000 followers and then on TV, you’ll get ‘service’, a word that is used in English in Dutch as there is no equivalent.

Any customer service that involves ringing up a call centre usually costs you money per minute (it should be free!), takes a long time and makes people angry because they get promised things which don’t happen (like receiving a modem for your cable Internet) and having to call back and repeat your story again to someone else who’ll tell you you’ve already received it. Many a foreigner nicknames this type of situation ‘it’s not possible’, (‘dat kan niet’) or in proper English, ‘we can’t do that for you’.

Another example of service gone mad in Van ‘t Hek’s column involved a man getting fined repeatedly for paying his cable Internet bill late while not being a customer of the company in question. He keeps calling to explain he’s not a customer and never was, they keep saying they’ll stop the bills and the bills keep coming — it’s been months. Basically, he’s not in the system, but obviously he is because he keeps getting letters. The call centre employees keep asking for his customer number to be able to track the situation, but he doesn’t have one.

If you read Dutch, read the original newspaper column of Van ‘t Hek and his son’s problem.


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