Qwest Customer Service: Terrible

What would you do if your broadband service with your DSL company ended when you moved several months ago, and out of the blue the following landed in your e-mail inbox?

Notice: Changes have been made to your Qwest® customer profile.

Our records show you recently made these change(s) to your customer profile, either by contacting a Qwest representative, or through your MyAccount page at qwest.com.

Email Address Changes
*The e-mail address you provided for us to reach you.

For Qwest account ending in:7503

At Qwest, we value the security of our customers' information and are sending this notice as a confirmation. As long as this change was made intentionally, no action is necessary. However, if you feel this change has been made in error, please contact Qwest immediately at 1 866-450-6152(Residential) or 1 800-603-600(Small Business).

Thank you for helping us maintain the security of your account.

[Marketing pitches comprising the rest of the email have been redacted.]

Well I certainly hadn't made the change, so I called Qwest at the number provided. After being asked irrelevant questions by their friendly and persistent automaton, I was transferred to a real live human operator. I explained the situation.

He asked me a few times if I was sure I hadn't changed my email address. After finding my old account number and reading it to him, along with my name and address, he informed me my old customer number had been re-assigned to a new customer and I "had probably nothing to worry about."

"'Probably' isn't good enough," I replied. After all, they had sent an email designed to alert me of suspicious activity. I hardly wanted my old account to be used to pay for someone else's Internet service. He then assured me it was a completely new account (without, to his credit, divulging any personal details of the new customer).

At this point it was now clear the alarming email I received should not have been sent and my time was therefore wasted. I asked the representative to ensure this would not happen to other Qwest customers in the future. He refused to do so, saying there was nothing he could do. I did not, of course, expect that he would roll up his sleeves and fix this bug in Qwest's system, so I clarified by asking that he tell a superior about the problem to ensure it would be taken care off. "I am sure there is nothing they can do, either," was his hopelessly pathetic, unempowered, uncaring, self-defeating reply. I insisted he try and was promptly put on hold, at which point I hung up, having had enough.

I fault both the Qwest representative and Qwest itself here. The representative clearly didn't care if the problem was ever resolved, though it would end up wasting more customers' time and costing his employer money in unnecessary calls to customer support. The Qwest company itself evidently has a corporate culture of apathy and does nothing to empower or educate its representatives to help get real problems solved.

That's the lesson to be learned here: Tell your employees to do whatever it takes to solve the problem at hand. Tell them what to do when they don't think anything can be done.

In the past I have had difficulties with Verizon, AT&T, and Cox as well. Is there no decent telecommunications company?

October 21st, 2009
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan_com).  Contact · About