Monday, July 23, 2007

Why are phone companies so difficult?

I had a call today from a prospective client who left two numbers to call him back -- both overseas in different countries. I've been burned before making international calls and getting socked with huge bills, so I wanted to check the rate before I called.

First I dialed "0". The operator forwarded me to some automated system that was not helpful. Then I checked out the website for our phone company, One Communications aka Choice One. I simply could not find the rates for international calls anywhere on their site. So I called "0" again and insisted no speaking to a person. She told me to dial "00". Ugh.

So I called "00". I went through three or four different people, none of them able to answer my question. Finally I expressed to the 3rd tier supervisor how dissatisfying this experience was. This is a simple question and it should be easy for customers to get the answer. We spend about $400/month on this service. You'd think we could get an answer to a simple question. I asked her to forward that to her supervisor. She was pleasant though. :-)

I called my cell phone company (Sprint) and did no better. I got one person who put me on hold for ten minutes (yes, really) and then I got shifted back into the same voice menu I had before I spoke with her. While I was waiting I found rates on their website, though I couldn't tell which was applicable to me. $0.99/minute versus $.07/minute (on the international calling plan) is a big difference.

So why are phone companies so difficult?


Anonymous said...

I checked on One Choice's web site and found their international rates under the category "Legal & Regulatory," located on the bottom right of their homepage.

Not quite hidden, but definitely a bit "difficult."

Unknown said...

Responding to the anonymous comment, I looked in that area of their site before I did my post. I looked again now and still do not see anything that says "international rates." Here's the page I think anonymous means: Choice One Tariffs

Chip McCormick said...

This is the sort of experience I had with MCI, along with mysterious extra long distance bills that took many calls to resolve. I was not suprised when they went out of business a year later.

Companies that think they can save a buck with outsourced or poorly trained customer service will eventually find themselves losing most of their customers. You might try a service like Skype which has wireless internet phones that make international calls for a few cents a minute, or for free if the other user connects via computer as well--if you are doing your calling from your office, you probably won't notice a difference from your current service. VoIP is becoming the standard in many industries: