Alert! Text message scam

About fifteen minutes ago, I received the following text message:
INTERAC E-Transfer: You’ve been refunded 175.00 due to an overcharge on your last payment. Click here to claim your funds:

Someone obviously has no idea how payments work. It’s been my experience that if you overpay on a bill, rather than issue a refund, the company will simply apply the overpayment as a credit on your next bill. Also, if you did overpay, any message would refer to it as an overpayment, not an overcharge.

The telephone number this was from had a Los Angeles area code. Were it not for the fact I’m in Canada and have no dealing with American firms who might be expecting payments from me, I might have been suckered in, Any payments I make all go to companies located in or near Toronto, which is not in area code 310.

When are these scammers going to realize that people aren’t as gullible as they once may have been. Many of these scams are well-known or, if egregious enough, are reported in various news media? For example, the so-called “grandparent” scam. You know the one – an older person gets a telephone call from someone purporting to be their grandson and he’s in trouble and needs a sum of money (usually in excess of $1,000) for bail or whatever. The grandparent, out of concern, sends the funds through Western Union and never hears from the supposed grandchild again. That one has been publicized quite a bit recently.

In this case, something the scammer wouldn’t have had knowledge of is that I’m on a pension and am very careful about my payments, so it is impossible I would have overpaid by $175 unless of course I didn’t want to eat for the month.

If you get a text message like this do not, under any circumstances, click on the link. You will find yourself opening a whole lot of trouble you don’t need.

Cat.

Customer service – an urban myth?

Recently I took a friend to a Virgin Mobile dealer so she could hook up her iphone.  One reason she wanted Virgin is that Virgin is the company I’m with and I can get phone reception using my iphone in her basement while her husband, who has his Blackberry with someone else, can’t.

The salesman was very helpful, going through the various plans and explaining what things meant.  The plan she eventually chose was better than the plan I was on, so I asked if I could switch.  I asked about any charges for the upgrade and was told any charge would appear on my bill.  When the bill came in, it was four times the usual amount.

Examining the bill, I noticed a charge of $150 with some cryptic description, which I eventually deciphered as the charge for the upgrade.  Feeling this charge was out of line, after all I’d upgraded to a more expensive plan  therefore they’d be getting more money from me, I called customer service.  When I finally got a real person on the line, I explained what I wanted and questioned the amount.  This lady asked if I could hold while she checked my account.  After a few minutes of some weird music, she came back and the first words out of her mouth were “well, your balance is quite huge…”.  I told her I knew and wanted an explanation for the hundred and a half they charged me.  I was told I’d have to take that up with the store.  My friend and I had gone to a store near her home, which is not in the same city I live in.  So to dispute it, I’d have to pay $60 round trip cab and train fare at a minimum.  Somehow, when someone calls in to question something on their bill, telling that customer their balance is “quite huge” doesn’t exactly seem like customer service.

If any of my readers live in an area where Rogers is the cable/internet/landline provider, here’s something to keep in mind.  I have all of the above from Rogers, for which services I was able to get some discounts through various promotions when I signed up, which was good as my sole income is a (small) government pension.  My cable was for a one year term and near the end of that year, I called Rogers customer service, asking if there were any discounts or promotions I could take advantage of for the cable portion of the bill.  I was told there wasn’t but I’d still get my three dollar discount for something or other.  Not being satisfied with this, I thanked her for her time, and hung up.  A few minutes later, I called Rogers back and this time asked to speak with someone in sales.  I explained why  was calling, mentioned the pension and said if there was nothing I could take advantage of, I’d have to consider cutting services.  That was all it took.  By the time the gentleman was finished, I had new discounts on all three services, and the total was less than I’d been paying previously.  By calling sales, rather than being content with the three dollar discount mentioned by customer service, I’ve saved about $60 a month on my Rogers bill.

Years ago I was a cab driver and dispatcher for a small fleet in Pickering.  Based on the ethics of the owner, a couple of others and myself referred to him as “the eighth dwarf – Sleazy”.  He had no qualms about lying to customers on the phone, as was shown one night when I was dispatching and he happened to still be there.

If you call for a taxi, it is common to be told approximately how long it will be before a cab arrives.  This particular night it was especially busy and we were running late in servicing calls.  He heard me tell one customer it would be about twenty minutes.  His response was to tell me – loudly, he never used a normal voice with me – I should have told them ten minutes.  He couldn’t seem to understand my logic as I explained we were busy and by saying twenty minutes I was being truthful with the customer.  He was also lost when I said that had I told them twenty minutes and we have a car there in ten, they’ll think we’re great, but if I told them ten and it took twenty, that customer would call our competitor next time.  To this man, “customer service” meant “what can the customer do for me?”

It is unfortunate that so many places seem to hire people for customer service who haven’t the faintest idea of the concept of “customer service”.  These people are no doubt also those who would complain loudest if customer service at some place with which they deal couldn’t solve their problem.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Customer Service – what’s that?

About five days ago I received a telephone call from Virgin Mobile, my cellphone service provider.  I don’t usually answer calls from unknown numbers, but this was the third call from that number in two days. I’ll admit answering the phone “this is the third time you’ve called me in two days.  What do you want?” was perhaps a little rude, but so be it.

The person on the other end of the phone had such a poor command of English – and didn’t speak clearly – that I had to ask three times why they were calling me before I could decipher the words “your account”. Now, all my account payments are up to date, so I asked the obvious question: “what account?”, thinking this might be some form of telephone scam (about which I would have written, naturally).  In response, I was told he was from Virgin Mobile Customer Service asking whether I was happy with the service I was receiving from Virgin. (Up until I got this call, I was.)

I told him my contract was due to expire in a couple of months and that I was considering switching my cellphone over to Rogers, from whom I get my internet, cable and home phone.  Upon learning that Virgin might lose a customer of three years, this man responded “sorry to hear that”.  On that note, the conversation ended.

Now surely, if you’re in customer service, and a three year customer tells you they are thinking seriously of changing their provider you’re going to have a more positive response than “sorry to hear that”.  Perhaps you might offer a better plan than they currently enjoy, or try to sweeten the pot in some other way.  Nope, just “sorry to hear that”. Wouldn’t you at least try to sound as if you cared?

But wait – there’s more!  (Sounds like a late night infomercial, doesn’t it?)  Today I telephoned Virgin Customer Service to see whether there would be any advantage to changing my plan now rather than wait until the expiry date.  Seemed like a logical question to me.  The man didn’t seem to understand my question, instead telling me  my choice of phones should I choose to upgrade.  That wasn’t what I asked.  I asked “Is there any advantage to me waiting until my current contract expires?”  I already know what phone I want – and no, it isn’t the BlackBerry Z10.  I once again mentioned that Rogers was interested in getting my cell business along with the house line, cable and internet.  This time I was greeted by silence.  I told him I’d talk with Rogers and other providers before I decided and that was the end of the call.

Am I wrong to think that Customer Service might be the department concerned with keeping a loyal customer happy and a customer?  After all, they called me to see if I was happy with the service.  Or should I instead have talked with someone in Sales?  In any event, in the next couple of days I’ll visit the Pickering Town Centre and talk with representatives from the various cellular service providers.  Virgin may yet lose a customer purely through their own indifference.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and straight answers) too.

Cat.

**Addenda: 1 – I checked and I’ve actually been with Virgin since 2007.

2 – I have sent a copy of this (minus most of the snark) to Virgin **