Friday, October 30, 2009

How does your customer service measure up? Probably better than Columbia Gas

Columbia Gas should be very happy they are a basically a monopoly. If they weren't, they'd surely be out of business by now due to the complete and utter disaster that is their customer service and how poorly organized they are overall.

I'm not surprised, however, that my experience today was bad. A number of years ago Columbia Gas of Ohio had to come back out to work on my place and their policy is if you miss an appointment, they won't come out again for another week. Pretty harsh, especially when it's averaging 35 degrees at night, but that's the kind of heartless pricks they are. Anyway, I ended up "missing" my appointment. It's in quotes because all I missed was a phone call that was notifying me that they were on their way. I wasn't near the phone at the time and since I didn't answer, they said I missed the entire appointment. Had they arrived at my door, they would have been greeted by me, since I was home. It was a fun week, having a life without Gas, which meant no hot water, no cooking (though I eventually bought a single electric burner), and the loss of at least some of my sanity. For what? For missing a phone call. I hope the people who came up with that policy suffer from IBS till the end of their days.

For the most part they were fine for years, as fine as a company who continually ups the price of a service everyone in Ohio needs can be. But a couple weeks ago they turned off the gas of everyone's place in my development to install some new hardware. I was supposed to call to get it turned back on, but since this is just the place I'm trying to sell and I don't live in, it wasn't a high priority to get it turned back on.

After a week of my not calling them about it, they finally called me. They left a voicemail saying to call a 1-800 number, so I did. After trudging through menu after menu, verifying my address, phone number, and last 4 SSN, I was greeted to a non-robot. First thing she asked me was my account #. Didn't you just verify me? I guess not. I had to give my phone number, address, and SSN all over again. Told her the situation and she said she had to transfer me to someone else. Great.

I arrive at the new Customer "Service" Rep's line and yet again I had to give my address, phone, and SSN. Why? It's 2009. We are taking pictures of pluto, having remote control dune buggy races on MARS, and these idiots can't have the system that automatically found me based on my phone # remember that I'm the same person from 3 seconds ago? This person was a bit nicer, but unfortunately it wouldn't be the last person I talked to. Apparently the first person didn't forward me far enough, so I had to be sent to a DIFFERENT person that was more relevant, I guess.

This old curmudgeon made me give all my info again. I didn't even pause, rattling off my phone #, address, and SSN all in one sentence. She then told me I had to call a different number and that they would have given it to me. I told the lady that I DID call the number they gave me. She rattled off her # and of course, after being transferred so many times, it wasn't the same one I called but something else. She again said I need to call the number they gave me. I again repeated that they were the ones who called me, they were the ones that left a phone number, and that I was the one who called that exact number. If that's the wrong number, that's not my fault, it's yours for being a horrible company. If you wanted me to call a different number, you should have given a different number.

So what do I have to do? I'm going to just call back later in the day when hopefully a different batch of people are working, hopefully ones with GEDs or possibly even a degree.

For now, it doesn't take anyone who is an expert in analytics to measure up this company. Big fat F. Failure, F'd up, Frustrating, and Fumbling. Get your crap together, Columbia Gas.