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 ~
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!