Monday, 14 July 2014

Customer Service with a Sting

Many of our customers, both businesses and individuals, will have heard that Westminster are to change the providers of their pay-by-phone service, which as we all know is extremely popular with Londoners, particularly for the way in which it doesn’t try to profit from drivers.

The new suppliers of this service are a company called Ringgo, who are part of a sizeable corporation servicing over 500 cities, yet when I tried contacting them to discuss how to register multiple vehicles for our business I couldn’t find any number listed on their website. I tried arguing with their automated payment system and after a few minutes of robot I managed to get through to an what I assume was a human only to find out that my options were either to send an email or call a 09 (premium) number at a pound a minute.

I have nothing against 09 numbers – there are lots of suitable applications for premium services, but as a policy we bar these from our phone system because there is no situation in which our employees should be calling them. Our reasoning is that any supplier who wants to charge us to talk to them isn’t really interested in our business anyway, and we are happy to find an alternative supplier. Except of course where this service is being provided by a public body such as Westminster Council, where choice isn’t a luxury we are offered, and the ‘service’ allegory doesn't really work because we aren’t the customer, we’re the hostage.

I’m not alone in thinking that the use of a premium number for a customer service line is unreasonable – The Cabinet Office seems to agree so rest assured that I’ll be taking this up with Westminster’s CEO, Charlie Parker.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to finding out how quickly Ringgo respond to support emails when we find out this Thursday that we can’t park our scooters, and specifically whether it’s going to be faster that the reaction time of Westminster’s friendly parking enforcement officers.

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