Look after the customers and the business will look after itself

13 04 2011

I used a text relay service called Text Direct (Typetalk) to try to call Virgin last week. As often happened, the text relay operator would dial the number, and reach a call centre. Now, as the options are read out, there is not enough time for the text relay operator to listen to the options and type them, for me to read them and tell the operator which choice I want, in time for him/her to choose the correct option so that I can be put through. The operator told me she was unable to hear me over the options being read out. What was I supposed to do?!

I asked to speak to a supervisor at Text Direct and they explained the system could not cope with automated calls. What I was asked to do was to tell the relay operator, prior to making a call, which service I wanted from the person I was calling. So, phone in hand, I took a deep breath and tried again. I explained to the operator and she stopped the call going through, and asked me to give her all the details (such as my account number etc), then she dialled again. This time, I got through to Virgin, and their operator promptly hung up. All service providers are required to provide access via a text relay service to deaf people. Their website says ~

Type Talk

Virgin Money welcome calls through the Type Talk service provided by BT. Call 18001 followed by the number you require, you’ll then be connected to an operator offering text phone assistance.

Obviously, the text relay operator had started explaining what Text Relay does, and Virgin’s operator couldn’t be bothered to listen. See … that’s the other side of hearing impairment … the social model of disability, where hearing people won’t listen and understand …. hence access barriers still exist! By this time, I was seething. I called Text Direct again, who put me through to Virgin (after giving Text Direct all my details again), and this time I got through. Hallelujah.  Even better, this rep was fine with accepting a text relay call.

At the end of my call, I explained what had happened with my last attempt to call Virgin. I asked for a  manager to call me back, thinking they wouldn’t bother. This one call took me 30 minutes to make – it would have taken a hearing person 5 minutes to make the same call. It’s so aggravating, isn’t it. I’ve got a busy day at work as well, just like everyone else.

The upshot of all this was that Virgin called me back when they said they would, they apologised profusely, listened to all I had to say (which was a lot!), were extremely polite, took the incident seriously, and said their first rep would be dealt with. I made recommendations on more ways they could be accessible to deaf people (MSN, Skype etc) and they explained their online access facility, which I didn’t know about. They said they were extremely grateful for the feedback and offered me £30 for the hassle.

I’m soooo impressed. What blisteringly good customer service!

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7 responses

13 04 2011
Dan Schwartz

I always copy/paste the text (including preamble & operator ID) of a relay call gone awry; and then either dispatch it via email; or what I did last time, when it happened to me at Costco’s pharmacy, print it out and hand it to the store manager.

14 04 2011
Tina

Copy n paste can be done with a minicom – but not with a Geemarc screenphone which is what I have got. I can’t even type, I can only speak into the phone and wait for the operator to type a reply. There’s no way of recording a conversation on this phone.

13 04 2011
Elaine

Hi there, I’ve had calls like that all the time – I would normally use the phone but when you get banks, and services that require you to go through the options it gets confusing and hard to concentrate especially as I’m surrounded by animals and kids! I find using the minicom a bliss to concentrate at times like this!

Anyway, don’t know if you’ve heard of this….but it’s worth considering. It’s called Myfriend http://www.myfriendcentral.com/ I think they are doing a pilot scheme at present to see how it works out….but you could spread the word and this will help support Text Relay.

What do you think?

14 04 2011
Tina

Thanks for the suggestion!

14 04 2011
Peter Horsfield

Unfortunately I’ve not had as much luck with Virgin Media. I’ve always had problems understanding the operators usual they talk too fast or have acsents.

Maybe next time I’ll just ask for the manager!

15 04 2011
Howard Samuels

When I used to use a voice relay service, I would ask the operator to get me to somebody in a particular department, and let them know that they didn’t have to type all the automated instructions. If that didn’t work, I would ask the operator to get me any real person. That usually took less time than multiple hang-ups while navigating the voice prompt system.

28 08 2016
HeathenJack

“All service providers are required to provide access via a text relay service to deaf people.”

Well naturally! We can’t have the disabled upset can we? It might interest you to know as well that all online companies are by law supposed to provide email access – not that Virgin, eBay and others give a toss about niceties of legal compliance. Email provides scope for considered and incisive service requests in a way nothing else does because contact isn’t rushed. Unfortunately employees barely able to write an English sentence find it burdensome so we’re being chivvied towards something more convenient [for them; no written records] and less embarrassing [for them]. It’s tripe to sell ‘texting’ as easy [I doubt many older people could manage a conversation this way]. Why don’t they just comply with the law and provide an email address? Or are they waiting for someone to start charging for sending emails in the way the phone companies charge for texts? Bah!

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