One man's action plan for Ofcom

  TOPCAT® 22:24 25 Apr 06
Locked

Alexander Cameron of Digital TX Ltd gives his observations on the near and long-term digital future for the regulator. Quite impressive reading and there's a lot there I would agree with. TC.

click here

Just a 'taster'of the content:

"John Pluthero said what ISPs knew about customer service he could write on the back of a postage stamp and, unfortunately, he was right. Most operators are content never to talk to their customers, let alone try to deal with their problems. An alarmingly large number do not even give their contact details to their own subscribers or the public. This lack of transparency or accountability is deeply worrying as limited companies appear and disappear as quickly as their bank loan for the BT central or VISP account runs dry. As we move into a new era of converged communication services, this type of cavalier behaviour is just not acceptable.

Survivors of ISPs that have gone spectacularly bust with little or no warning (often with buckets of their own customers’ money) are mounting up in the same way rogue premium-rate telephony scam artists have. BT has no interest in cutting off these customers’ accounts as they are cash cows that pay for a world of useful luxuries. As long as they are paying their bills (or the likelihood is that they will), it is up to the rest of us to deal with their cynical approach to service provision. Ask any UK Online or Bulldog subscriber – provisioning, support and billing aren’t exactly a speciality.

All tiers of ISPS need to be fully licensed on a national register in exactly the same way as broadcasters are. Operators should need a licence and have the appropriate diligence conducted on their affairs every year before they are allowed to deal with small businesses and/or the general public (consider full MPF unbundling, carrier pre-selection and VoIP services where access to emergency services is a key issue). Guidelines, practices and regulation need to be mandated and enforced by a central authority that can tighten up the shortcomings of such a fast-moving industry. Understandably, no-one is going to like being regulated, but it desperately needs to be done...."

  anskyber 09:40 26 Apr 06

Goodness yes I agree. We all have our own nightmare stories with ISP's and I am no exception. For example mine was being cut off from service having moved house, not because of the move but because the ISP did not collect the £25 charge for the move until my normal statement date which as a result made me a bad debtor!!

And yes the resolution took some 8-10 premium rate calls each lasting some 30-50mins. Incidentally, when I rang yesterday to upgrade my package I was told there was a "block" on my account, no explanation. Funny, they are still taking my money each month. Am I blacklisted? Feels like it to me after my justified and polite complaints. I have given them until Friday to explain why and if not its a MAC code for me. Why should it have to be like this? Yes it is a very well known ISP.

  SG Atlantis® 10:47 26 Apr 06

ntl billed me £3 one month. I phoned and asked why. They said it's because you changed packaged and got money credited back, (I did change but there's no mention on the bill). Now every bill I get states £21.00 carried over from last bill. This amount is overdue and warns me with passing info on to credit ref agencies.

Every bill has this on it and they tell me it's because they keep calculating the bill wrong.

Incidently if you add this 21 to rest of the bill it is what I'm meant to be paying. How can they warn me every month?

I've given up on this. A few times they've cut me off without notice.... I always pay whatever they ask, when they ask.

I've given up trying to get an answer, I am currently considering getting my bt line reactivated. Only thing is I'll go from 10 meg on cable to 1meg via the bt line.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 11:09 26 Apr 06

John Pluthero was the founder of Freeserve so he should have first hand experience of what he preaches ;-))

G

  dmc727 11:32 26 Apr 06

The mention of Freeserve and John Pluthero rings a bell. He must have been a hands on boss because when I started with Freeserve and had a problem he personally wrote a letter with a sensible solution. Seems like light years away.

Now we are into the era (again) of free internet how can customer services be expected when you get it comes for nothing.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 11:39 26 Apr 06

'Now we are into the era (again) of free internet how can customer services be expected when you get it comes for nothing...you ahve hit the nail on the head. Service costs and contrary to what some people on this forum and elsewhere think, businesses are there to make a profit and not as a charity to all and sundry.

G

  rmcqua 14:16 26 Apr 06

Yes, but some of the world's most successful companies are those who have put customers and service at the top of their list of priorities, and built their whole corporate mission around them.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 14:21 26 Apr 06

...and they charge for it in one way or another.

G

  anskyber 15:25 26 Apr 06

GANDALF <|:-)> Fine better that than the rubbish I have endured. And there was me thinking how unusual, I'm starting to agree with GANDALF <|:-)> !!!

  GANDALF <|:-)> 16:16 26 Apr 06

Contrary to popular belief, customer service costs a lot of money. It is impossible to offer a free service with excellent customer care over an extended period. Free services tend to get abused more (human nature) and consequently need extra customer care which is usually charged at £1/minute or is patchy to say the least.

There is a constant tide of people that want to reduce prices on everything from computers to DIY goods and they are succeeding helped by keen competition from various firms. However it is unrealistic of them to expect excellent, free customer service at all times when they are paying rock bottom prices.

G

  anskyber 21:10 26 Apr 06

I'm back to fully agreeing with you.

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