Regularly Dis-Appointed

, , , , | Right | February 19, 2018

(I work in the arrears department for a major energy supplier. Customers have two options to clear their debt: they can either set up a monthly payment plan, or they can have a prepayment meter fitted. I have a customer come through who has not paid anything for over a year. We are due to go to court for a warrant soon. I talk her through her options and she decides to go for a prepayment meter. I begin looking at the appointments available.)

Me: “The earliest appointment I have is [date]. You can either have it between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm, 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, or 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Which would you prefer?”

Customer: “Can I have nine?”

Me: “You want the nine until 12 slot; is that right?”

Customer: “No, I want nine.”

Me: “We can’t do appointments for specific times. We can only do them in blocks.”

Customer: “But I want him to come at nine!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we can’t guarantee exact times because the engineer will be going on lots of different jobs that day, and it is hard to know how long each one will take. I can get the engineer to call you when he is on his way, if you’d like.”

Customer: “No, that’s not good enough. I want nine! I’m not waiting in for four hours. I’m busy.”

(It’s actually three hours, but I decide it’s not worth correcting the customer.)

Me: “It doesn’t have to be you. Do you have somebody over 18 who can wait in on your behalf, like a friend or family member?”

Customer: “I’m not making anyone else wait four hours. The engineer will get there at nine!”

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t guarantee that.”

Customer: “Well, I’m at work that day and can’t take time off.”

Me: “There are other days available. Is there a day that is best for you?”

Customer: “I can do any day at nine.”

Me: “Again, madam, I am very sorry, but as I explained, I cannot guarantee you a time like that. I appreciate that slot appointments can be inconvenient, but I will do my best to find one that works for you. We have appointments throughout the day if you are working, and we also have Saturday appointments.”

Customer: “I work Saturdays.”

Me: “Then, perhaps an evening slot would be better? We have four until eight.”

Customer: “No. I’m working then.”

Me: “Okay, then. Would a morning slot be better?”

Customer: “I’m working then, too.”

Me: “Do you have a day off?”

Customer: “No. Just give me the nine appointment!”

(At the time, I am working two jobs, and I understand the hardships of extended working hours, so I tell the customer to hold while I contact the engineer to see if there is anything he can do, or at the very least see if he can check his schedule and give a better idea of when he might be there. I explain the situation to the engineer, and he says he can adjust the route so she is one of the first he sees. He also offers to call the customer when he is on his way.)

Me: “Thank you for holding. I spoke to the engineer. He says he will put you to the top of his list. He can’t guarantee he’ll be there at nine, but he says he will be there sometime between nine and ten. He also said he would call you when he is on his way.”

Customer: “So, he’ll be there at nine?”

Me: “No, he will be there between nine and ten. As I explained, I cannot guarantee a specific time.”

Customer: “Okay. Book the appointment.”

(I go ahead and book the appointment. I reiterate to the customer that the engineer is coming between nine and ten, not necessarily at nine. She says she understands and even says that waiting one hour is better than waiting for four. At the end, I give the usual warning about missed appointment fees. I also remind her that warrant action will not be halted, so if she misses this appointment, we might not get another one before the court date, and if we go to court, fees will be added to her account. The customer is fine with this. Fast forward to the day before her appointment. I call the engineer to remind him of our agreement. He confirms the customer has been moved up. The next day, however, the engineer calls and explains that the customer didn’t answer the door. He knocked on both the back and front doors and got no response, but he could hear noise inside and thought somebody might be home. When he tried calling the customer, they didn’t answer, but he heard a cell phone ringing in the house. I thank him for letting me know and for making the effort, and make a note on the account. A week later, a colleague asks to speak to me. The customer has called up, furious, claiming that the engineer never showed up and that I lied to her. I tell my colleague to pass the customer to me.)

Me: “Hello, [Customer]. You’re speaking to [My Name]. I’m the one who arranged your appointment. My colleague says you told him the engineer didn’t show up. Is that right?”

Customer: “Yes, that’s right. He didn’t, and now I’ve got a missed appointment fee. You can take that off right now, and I want you to cancel that court date. It’s not my fault the engineer didn’t bother to turn up.”

Me: “The engineer contacted me that morning and explained that he knocked on the door, but nobody answered. He also tried calling you and you never picked up the phone.”

Customer: “Well, of course I didn’t answer the door! It was 9:15! He was supposed to be there at nine! If he can’t be bothered to be there on time, I’m not going to let him in.”

Me: “Madam, I explained to you that the engineer could not be there at exactly nine. I told you it would be between nine and ten.”

Customer: “No, you promised me he’d be there at nine!”

Me: “I can assure you, I didn’t.”

Customer: “Well, it’s your word against mine.”

Me: “Our calls are recorded. I can prove I told you several times.”

(The customer goes quiet for a moment before speaking again.)

Customer: “Can I make another appointment?”

Me: “I’ll see what we have, but it might not be until after the court date.”

(I check, and the customer is in luck; the earliest appointment is the day before the court date.)

Me: “I have managed to find an appointment the day before the court date, but it is almost fully booked. The only slot I have is from four to eight.”

Customer: “Can’t you do nine?”

Me: “As I have explained before, we cannot do set times. I can only give you time slots, and the only one left is between four and eight.”

Customer: “Well, that’s not good. I can’t wait in then.”

Me: “I’m afraid that at this point your only options are to clear your balance in full, wait in on that date, get a friend or relative over 18 to wait in for you, or wait for the warrant. However, as I warned you before, if a meter is fitted following a warrant, you will be charged court fees, which will be added to your debt.”

(At this, the customer pitched a fit, blaming me, telling me I was incompetent and that I should be fired, and that it was not her fault. She then demanded to speak to my manager. I put her through. A while later my manager advised me that after much back and forth, the customer agreed to the appointment the day before the court date. Unsurprisingly, she missed it. Not only that, but she wasn’t in for the warrant appointment, either. She still got the meter, though; a warrant allowed us to call a locksmith to drill her locks to gain access to the property. This means that not only did she have court fees, two missed appointment fees, and locksmith fees, but she would also have had to drive to the depot to pick up the keys to the new locks so she could get in.)

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