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Welcome to Customer Service week!

Here’s what’s happening on Which? Conversation and around which.co.uk for the week of 16 August.

This week on Which? Conversation we’re going to be talking about customer service. Customer service plays a role in nearly every discussion we have, but isn’t something we talk about as much as an abstract concept.

We’d be keen to hear about what makes a good customer service experience for you? What are the ingredients of a good experience? What sets something a part as an excellent – or indeed, a terrible – experience? Do you expect – or indeed, receive – different levels of customer service if you get in touch with a company via different channels?

This week we’ll be asking these questions and more, including what you find is the most effective way to be heard when you have a complaint.

Don’t forget to join in on Thursday’s live event with our Consumer Rights team to ask questions and share your experiences – we’re all keen to hear them!

Does a higher price mean better customer service? Should it?

Often we’re able to buy different levels of a product, such as first or business-class airline tickets instead of coach, a higher model white good, or even an escalated level of fulfillment such as next-day shipping. If you pay for a higher tier, how does this change your expectation of customer service?

Do you expect better customer service when you make a larger or more expensive purchase?
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Don’t believe the dealbot, and other stories

Here’s a selection of other stories we’re covering around which.co.uk:

What else is going on this week? We’d love to hear what’s happening with you, so let us know in the comments.

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I would not rely on this unless specific benefits are mentioned in the terms & conditions. My main concern is when companies do not behave reasonably, or worse, do not comply with the law.

For a start, I would like all companies to provide an email address for customer service and complaints, and not a web form. Likewise, want to see existing customers being able to contact customer service without having to wait for half an hour listening to messages about them being extremely busy at that time, irrespective of when you call.

You can insist on both. For distance selling, an email address is a legal requirement and telephone calls must be handled “quickly and [communicate] efficiently”.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

Information to be provided before making a distance contract

13.—(1) Before the consumer is bound by a distance contract, the trader—

(a) must give or make available to the consumer the information listed in Schedule 2 in a clear and comprehensible manner, and in a way appropriate to the means of distance communication used …


Information relating to distance and off-premises contracts
The information referred to in regulations 10(1) and 13(1) is (subject to the note at the end of this Schedule)—

(a) the main characteristics of the goods or services, to the extent appropriate to the medium of communication and to the goods or services;

(b) the identity of the trader (such as the trader’s trading name);

(c) the geographical address at which the trader is established and, where available, the trader’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address, to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate efficiently; …

By not providing these communition channels, you could potentially argue that the retailer has not fulfilled their contractual obligations.

Yes, Adam French drew our attention to the regulations recently: https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/most-effective-complaints-shopping/#comment-1634440

It would be good if Which? did some publicity to raise awareness of these requirements, since many companies don’t provide a proper email address and some seem to deliberately hide their phone number.

”Does a higher price mean better customer service? Should it?
Often we’re able to buy different levels of a product, such as first or business-class airline tickets instead of coach, a higher model white good, or even an escalated level of fulfillment such as next-day shipping. If you pay for a higher tier, how does this change your expectation of customer service?

This is the basic question asked. I think first we need to separate two, possibly confused, issues. The service issue – the proper fulfilment of what has been offered whatever the product – and the extras that have been paid for ( quality if food, drink, seating say in 1st class. We don’t have “coach”, do we?)

So price should not affect service. I buy a product and it should still be delivered on time in new condition and placed in my kitchen, packing removed, if that is the agreement whether it was cheap or expensive. Equally, if it goes wrong it should be dealt with equally correctly.

Shipping (don’t we call it delivery?) should meet what we asked and paid for – next day or 3-5 days or whatever, and undamaged.

So “No”, price should not affect service from a particular source, be it airline, carrier or shop. But service may be affected by the source, so a particularly cheap source may have lower standards of service generally – an airline springs to mind for example.

Some companies just don’t want to know about “customer service”, it’s just non existent. Some time ago, too long ago now, I ordered a low voltage LED floodlight from a firm in chorley, and when it arrived it was the wrong one, not the one I paid for and not the one shown on the box it arrived in, so it obviously hadn’t been checked. So I tried emailing them, only to be completely ignored. So I tried phoning them, only to get some stupid recording telling me that I couldn’t leave any messages. So what do you do with idiots like that?

Really impressed this week with the AA. Even though I’m sure it’s a longer-term sales technique, they have upgraded my car breakdown cover from Bronze to Silver and the monthly payment is cheaper. Loyalty is something many companies don’t seem to focus on as we can change providers easily these days so was refreshing to receive.