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That’s not how a prepaid service works…

Hi, long time lurker, first time poster.

Prior to moving into Workforce Management 2 years ago at the same call centre, I was a sales and service rep. The company is STV and ISP company.

I had lady call up who was very irritated about her bill history and the charges on said bill. This call should have gone to our outsourced billing team, however our customers know how to jig the IVR to speak to my department who are primarily based in house. Our billing teams are extremely good at their job, but I guess customers prefer to talk to someone in the same country. Anyway, this was more or less our conversation paraphrased, minus the profanity and racial slurs.

Me: introduct-

Cust: are you *based in country of company?

Me: yes, west of *Capital city. You’re speaking with yippiekiyia, how can-

Cust: you’re the fourth person I’ve spoken to and if you don’t fix this issue I’m going to talk to all the news outlets and go to the ombudsman.

Me: I’m here to help. May I start with asking a few questions so I have all your account details ready?

Does all the account verification. And during the usual small talk about systems being slow I quickly suss the account and two things stand out. Large amount owing on the account and account suspension.

Me: so I can see you’ve spoken to us a few times regarding your bill. Is there something unresolved I can help with?

Cust: I’ve been speaking to numerous agents and no one can help. Your company is stealing from me and no one can give me a straight answer.

Me: okay, so have you been over charged, I’m happy to walk through the last few bills to check for any discrepancies. Have you made any changes to your service recently?

Cust: no that’s not it. I spoke to a lady a week ago who said my account was all paid up. But my TV isn’t working, and I have a bill that says I’m $200 (I think) in debt!

As she’s telling me this I check the notes, and she did speak to someone. I can’t remember what the notes read, but it was something along the lines of that the customers current months charges were paid. And that they had waived a late payment fee. So I guess the agent just advised the customer of the minimum amount required to continue using the service and the customer took this as being all paid up.

Our system has a little feature that basically colour codes each past month depending on whether a bill has been paid on time, is late or has entered collections process. This customer has been 1 cycle off debt referral for at least 11 months. How this happens I couldn’t even comprehend. Invoices and billing info is kept on file for 12 months or so, then we need to use am archive system to retrieve older info.

I ask the customer a few questions, place them on hold and work through the charges. I go back to her every few minutes to ask more questions and all the charges are legit. Nothing out of the ordinary. There are however late payment fees on every bill which also makes sense. A few had been waved as per notes.

Me: so everything checks out, the charges are correct yet you are behind in your bill. No payments have bounced… You don’t pay via direct debit so do you pay at a post office or something?

Cust: no I Bpay at the end of the month once I know I’ve received the service.

Me: sorry, did you say you pay at the end of the month? Do you mean the billing month?

Cust: yes. Im billed on the first, so I wait till the end of the month to pay because I don’t want to pay your company any money until I know I’ve received the service.

Me: how long have you been doing this?

Cust: three years.

Me: okay… So I know what’s happened here. So you’ve been paying off the invoice at the end of each month, basically a day before you receive your next invoice?

Cust: no, when I receive the next bill. I won’t pay for a service until I get the full months service. And I don’t pay the late fees because I refuse to pay for something until I’ve received it.

Me: and after three years, you would become more and mor behind and rack up a lot of fees.

Cust: like I said, I’m not paying it.

The remaining 20minutes is me trying to reassure that whatever initial billing dispute she had in the past, our process and tools have improved greatly to prevent and correct disputes if they should rarely occur.

That’s the story of a woman who wouldn’t accept that our service is prepaid and this would continue forever…

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