Today I paid a collection agency for a bill that was never mine just to keep it off my credit rating. I cancelled our service with webhosting on the telephone in August 2007 as they were too difficult to contact and usually had to wait on hold for over a half our at a time just to speak to a customer service representative.
I cancelled with a credit on account. They even remarked about it but I said I had to cut my losses as I could find service out there that was more flexible (24/hrs 7 days/week compared to their 9-5:30 5 days/week) with shorter hold times.
In February I received an email notice that I owed them money. I used their own reply button in their email to accounts AT uniserve.com saying I had cancelled this account and they are billing me in error. I never received any communication from them. I phoned the customer service and they put me on to Web Hosting accounts where I sat on hold for over 30 minutes and gave up, and left a voice mail on their automated system.
I didn't hear from them again until the following month in March when they sent me a final notice. I followed their steps to communicate with them via email again and sent a terse communication telling them I had cancelled their service and I wouldn't pay because I had already contacted them. I followed up again with a phone call to customer service and was put on hold for over 45 minutes and gave up and left a voice mail.
I received a reply in a generic looking email that basically said, "you didn't cancel your service, we will keep billing you." I never found that particular email until yesterday (unfortunately) but it begs the question of, "Why that response." Why didn't they look into it, call me, email me that it appeared to be a misunderstanding or something instead of 'too bad so sad we aren't cancelling you.'
I received a call from a collection agency three days ago and spoke with them and told them I would try and work it out with Uniserve. I phoned very upset and told them this story where I basically was told that no one had 1. marked down my email complaints and no wonder, the emails had all gobbly-gook typing in them that my message was buried in the middle of it all. Now, I used their form to contact customer service, it was their server that put that stuff in the email...you think they would have been used to it or at least recognized that someone wouldn't just send them a blank email in response to a billing notice.
I was told that I would have to phone during my work day again, to dispute with the very person who took my call to cancel the account. They told me he was a 'good guy' very 'community minded' and 'highly intelligent' and would remember a five minute telephone conversation from over a year ago. Basicallly they were passing the buck and asking me to take another hour or so out of my work day to deal with something that is obviously an internal communication breakdown. I don't think it is my fault and should be penalized any more time and effort and energy, not to mention my own wages while I am supposed to be working for something that is obviously their fault. There has been a general failure on their part to be accurate in inputting the data from the messages I have left and that is something I don't have control over.
I was basically told that I was ruining this customers service fella's day, and when I said he needed to grow a pair of balls and deal with it and not leave it up to a customer to deal with what was obviously a company communication problem, he said I shouldn't make it personal. He complained that he spent over a half hour on the phone with me, an upset customer and tried to say what a good job our organisation does (like he even knew who we were or what we do) and that he was certain I could get it all dealt with but he didn't see any remark of cancellation so it was kinda up in the air until I confronted the guy who never followed through with writing down the cancellation. He wouldn't even promise me he would take care of it, he just kept saying well, it isn't written down. I mean it is obviously an error, a breakdown of sorts...couldn't Uniserve just absorb the petty $200 and say, hey, we messed up...sorry. I never received an apology or any kind of understanding or promise to deal with it...and I shouldn't get personal about it. You know, this personally effected me and my life and Uniserve customer service is nothing but a title that doesn't describe the job they are doing.
What I needed was a hero in that company who would understand that someone screwed up and _personally_ adversely effected my life, my credit rating and I ended up leaving the phone call crying and distraught. I had explained that the Collection agency told me that I had to have it resolved by yesterday but he didn't want to take any action until I called the webhosting department and confronted this guy who took my phone call over a year ago.
I told them I am going public with them, he basically laughed and told me to go for it. The lack of customer service ownership in this business is appalling. I even asked him if he paid for something that never arrived, how would he feel? It is the same situation, a severe lack of help, understanding and action on the part of Uniserve is simply appalling. Even in simple customer service jobs I have worked at, a problem is remedied no matter who created the error. Uniserve needs more champions and less 'hands off' help.
Here's the irony. It was never even my account. It is for a not for profit organization that I do web work for. It isn't me that pays the bills; I am just some nice volunteer who made up a website for an organization in the community where I work.
Today I phoned the collection agency and paid the bill because I care more about my credit rating than the $200.53 and I can't handle the stress of this hanging over me.