Trusting telcos to provide a service
Saturday, May 19, 2012 10:55:14 AM
Right now, I have several telephone providers, as I have done for most of the last ten years. But I am about to drop movistar, unless they learn how to offer a usable service.
My first telephone services were provided by Telstra - and after more than 20 years I am still a Telstra customer despite not even living in Australia. Although they have from time to time done something or other pretty badly, or stupidly, in every case so far they have been able to solve problems that were there fault.
The one really annoying thing I got from them was phone calls asking me to consider a new plan, or a different service. I understand that they want to make more money by providing a service I will use in a way that is better for them - and they understand that I will probably only use it if it is also better for me. So far, so good.
They even have my email address, and they are welcome to write to me and suggest that I look at something. When they manage to write an email that looks like it is worth reading, I even read it. They're not so good at that, but among the hundreds of emails I get every day I recognise their addresses and give them at least a cursory glance, unlike a lot of spam.
What annoyed me was that they would ring me while I was roaming. Telstra were the only people in the world with a completely reliable guide to whether my phone was roaming, since they were making sure that would work. Apart from the cost issue, I seriously resented being woken up at 3am from a few hours sleep before an important meeting, to be told something as useful as "Telstra has new pricing plans", or asked if I wanted to get cable TV service (despite not having a TV to connect to it, nor a house to put the TV in).
I eventually explained to somebody that if the kept doing this I would seek formal redress for the cost of them ringing me, and after that it stopped. But they had managed to do themselves the disservice of convincing me that where possible it is better to turn off roaming - especially for a telco that doesn't respect the basic needs of a customer.
Which brings me to movistar. I am not the high-value customer to them that I was to Telstra. I am, however, looking for a provider for whome I will become a relatively high-yield client. Meanwhile, on my simple movistar account I get machines ringing me to tell me such inanities as "you can buy music for your phone".
I know I can. If I didn't know, I would be able to find out on television, by reading email, and by reading the spam that follows every notification of a missed phone call, even if my phone was turned off at the time (by the way, that is just one of the great features they offer that made me a mostly happy customer in the first place. I'm happy to have the spam added - the overall value is still enormous).
A phone call is a disruptive thing. I don't have the phone because I like receiving them (if you want to make me happy, send a letter), but because it is valuable to be able to make them from time to time, and traditional voice calling still offers some advantages over switching to an internet-only service, or going without. But having whatever I am doing (today it turne out to be an important piece of work, but sleeping on saturday morning is also important to many people who are lucky enough to have spent the week working hard and are tired).
I already asked Telefonica (the people who own Movistar) about this. They offered me the ability to tell some third party service a whole lot about myself, in exchange for which they would tell Telefonica (who use their service) that I didn't want spam calls. I would be able to log in and ask them to tell other people who were using their service, as well. This is not a solution. I don't want another "social service" just to stop someone I am paying from using my money to be anti-social to me. There are far less annoying ways to solve the problem by changing who I do business with.
There is a minimal cost to switching, and there are good reasons why I picked Movistar in the first place. I hope the overal service they provide doesn't manage to convince me that those reasons are not good enough. But we'll see...