Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The First Screwie Award
By Gil C. Schmidt

Imagine a company that:
a) Makes a fundamental change in its ownership,
b) Switches a large customer base from one service segment to another,
c) Forces the customers to upgrade their service,
d) Forces the customers to wait for hours—or days—to receive the service,
e) Forces customers to lose their service for days—without recourse,
f) Promises fast service but imposes deadlines it cannot keep,
g) AND continues to charge you full fees for your service—which is nonexistent.

Welcome to to the wacky, zany, crazy, FUN! world of SunCom. The sale of AT&T created a merger issue that was handled by switching carrier service in Puerto Rico. To continue cell phone service, SunCom customers had to have their phones upgraded with a new chip, or buy new phones. ALL customers were given a 30-day period to make the change, but even early in the process, when crowds were thin, problems arose.

Each upgrade takes at least an hour and in some cases, several hours. Many customers—rightly so—had signed up for a specific plan and refused to buy a more expensive phone. Most customers could not afford to leave their unit at SunCom for “a few days” to have the upgrade handled. As the deadline grew near, the lines grew longer and tempers began to flare.

Customers began reporting that service was limited to 35-40 customers a day per office, with a customer base estimated to be over 105,000. Often they were told to take a number and come back the next day, usually after waiting for hours. People began arriving at 5 AM, three hours before opening. SunCom offices were closing at 10 PM instead of at six. Security guards were assigned to each office as irate customers began demanding their rights, in some cases with violent behavior.

The average wait for service was estimated at 6 hours. The average time for the cell phone to work again is estimated at 10 days. (After Day 11, my wife’s phone receives calls, but can’t make them. The SunCom “solution”: dial 611 for service. Uh, SunCom: IT CAN’T CALL ANYBODY!!) But the bill arrived on time, in full, with no hint that anything untoward has been happening in wacky, zany, crazy, FUN!Com.

Despite the best efforts of managers and employees at the customer service level (free breakfast, coffee, special arrangements for senior citizens and pregnant women) the entire company is to blame. SunCom has treated its customers like cattle in a slaughterhouse: pile them all in line, shove them through a ridiculous process and ignore the protests. Therefore, I give SunCom of Puerto Rico the First “Screwie” Award for Nauseatingly Bad Service.

And, hey, SunCom, if you don’t want it, call 611. On my wife’s phone.

Editor's Note: Thank You Gil for creating The "Screwie Nauseatingly Bad Service" Award, or the SNBS. I have a feeling that we'll be handing more of these out than our "Carol Awards", which are for excellent service. Unfortunate! I have several SNBS winners to acknowledge in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, since I'm so keen on options and solutions. Unsatisfied customers, hit the company where it hurts the most, in their pocket. Those who can, change companies. Those who can't right now, word of mouth is a double edged sword...



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home