Multichoice must up its game or risk a customer service scandal

2017-01-18 15:21

If you are a Multichoice subscriber and have need for the company’s dial in services, do you ever feel that you are being short changed by their Call Centre? If so - you are not alone: a  lot of people feel that.

I write this article not to discredit a high profile company, but to give voice to the concerns of many whose opinions and experiences I have personally canvassed and others who I know of anecdotally. More importantly perhaps, I highlight the shortcomings of a market monopoly, where the customer gets pushed to the back of the queue and questionable practices take root.

A shortage of staff skills is widely recognised in our economy - but for ubiquitously sub-standard staff to be on offer in a service driven high tech environment such as Multichoice is beyond unacceptable.

A few examples will make the point – but let us first be reminded of the days when, if you wanted to go away and still watch a bit of TV you simply packed your DSTV smartcard in your bag when leaving. All you needed was a decoder at destination. And everything worked just fine.

Then cards could no longer be transported and consumers were forced to adopt a new procedure – ostensibly driven by technology and (heaven knows how!) – in order to “improve security”!

This happened well over 5 years ago and although there have been promises to enable DSTV’s holiday switch to be done on line, nothing has happened; only yesterday I phoned in, to be advised that it is still not possible. “We will tell you when it can be done” I was cheerily advised.

Here are examples of some of the problems:

• Multichoice’s “Holiday Switch” Service which should enable you to watch at your destination and close your home decoder is often problematic - which is very puzzling indeed; surely it should be a dead cinch for a company as technologically advanced as Multichoice and require very little skill or ingenuity to get it right.

Having given the consultant your account details and codes for your primary and destination decoders – what could be easier? Switch off “A” and enable “B”. Hey presto!

But for many consultants, the very notion of “holiday switch” is unclear and confused with other available options such as multiple location viewing. It is sometimes even necessary to explain the difference to the consultant.

Cynically, this is a potentially profitable error for Multichoice (providing viewing at additional locations) but hugely irritating for consumers.

• Then there is the switching from holiday decoder back to the primary address when one returns home.

This process is usually more fraught than the original holiday switch, since you might very well at this point discover that your switching request was not met and that both locations have been running concurrently - generating unwanted extra charges to your account.

Invariably, lots of phone calls and unnecessary “claims” follow!

• Dropping of Service

From time to time it happens that instead of a service being switched as requested it gets dropped altogether in the process of the request being attended to.

This is bad news, because it cannot be reinstated without being “escalated to the IT Department”.

That can mean you are sunk if you want to switch over a weekend and the department is closed. In our instance, one such incident took over a week to resolve and be reconected.

• Overcharges

It will come as no surprise that these errors (dare one refer to them as constructive incompetence?) result in a plethora of overcharges.

Fortunately, however each call has a call reference to quote when claiming back overcharges, but occasionally credit amounts – when paid - bear no relation to the amount(s) claimed!

The record keeping and monitoring of these overcharges by Multichoice’s customers are onerous to say the least. We have even been billed for services rendered to another subscriber – which required emails, the scanning of bank statements etc. in order to have the charges reversed.

In similar vein, a neighbour who uses dual view (running with reception in two locations and paying for the days used) was given the incorrect account details into which to pay his money.

Getting the funds back and having the account straightened out was both onerous and time consuming - not to mention infuriating.

• Call Assessments?

Ominously, customers are no longer asked to rate their call centre's service after each call, as used to be the case. One can only speculate as to why, but I imagine that management decided it was easier than addressing all the problems: rather drain the swamp than try to tread water.

• Calls “on hold”?

It is common to be put on hold when consultants find themselves unable to resolve requests or explain queries. This generally happens when, after everything else has failed, one insists on speaking to a supervisor.

All too often, such "hold" calls are either cut off unilaterally or keep the customer hanging on until they exasperatedly hang up and call again. As a result of my wife’s dogged persistence and becoming familiar with some of the consultants (she makes our calls), we are given to understand that this is a cop out for some consultants finding themselves out of their depth and unable to resolve customer queries.

It would be interesting to learn the true extent of these malpractices so that pressure can be brought to bear on Multichoice to give its customers the service they pay for and deserve.

My feeling is that it is hardly becoming of a leading service provider in the private sector to conduct its affairs as one might expect of a typical delinquent government department or dysfunctional parastatal. Lord forbid - there are more than enough of those.

Multichoice needs to up its game.

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