In my earlier blog entry AO(HEL)L…, I stated that I shall be discussing two more service disasters and a case of service recovery. Well, here I am writing about another service failure from a service company.

Indesit washing machine It happened so that after buying the washing machine 2yrs and 7 months ago, it suddenly stop responding to washing programme option 3. We thought it was a minor thing and so didn’t really think much of it. However, one fine weekend while sifting through some old bills I realised that while buying it from Argos we had paid £99 for the machine insurance and it included repairs.
The next thing was to call the company and they asked me to call the insurance company (Norwich Union – aka NU). I had seen some ads by them and thought ahh… this is a good firm and they will sort things out quickly. However, like AO(HEL)L… it became Indes(h)it for us.
The first time we contacted Norwich Union (NU) the lady took the details and stated that an engineer will come to your place in between 8 – 5pm on a certain date after 3 weeks. My spouse waited whole day for that engineer to arrive however, he didn’t turn up. In the evening I called up NU to find the reason and we were told he didn’t find parking space as we live in the city centre and so he couldn’t come. This time we were given another date after 2 weeks. This time the engineer did turn up and opened the machine up and then said, ohh… the programme 3 is not working mate and I am sorry but I don’t have the electronic panel to fix that. I was absolutely furious. Shouldn’t they tell the engineer what the problem was (we had already mentioned that)? The engineer said he will be back in a week and gave us another date. So on that specific date my spouse again waited for him but to our surprise he didn’t turn up. Luckily he had given us his mobile number and so we called him up where he said, his territory had been changed by the company and so we will have to rebook the appointment.
I was getting anxious now as the time for the insurance term to expire was coming nearer and we all know how notorious insurance companies are overall. I called up NU again asking about this mishap and booked another appointment. This was another 3 weeks. This time I was at home waiting for the engineer and to my shock he didn’t come. I called up the company at 7pm at last after waiting all day for the engineer and they told me that because we live in a city centre, the engineer needed parking permit to park his vehicle and COULD WE BUY HIM ONE? I literally laughed out sarcastically asking the lady on the phone that is it now my duty to do so? Her response was kind of, if you want the service, get the permit? It really got me upset so I asked her to put me to a supervisor. After re-explaining the phenomenon another date after 2 weeks was given to us.
We waited again on the day for the engineer to arrive, and to our amazement, he again didn’t. So I called up NU again and they said, that you live on the back of the building and from your window, the van cannot be seen and it is the company policy that the engineer must be able to see the van from the service point. This was getting ridiculous so I told that lady that now I am recording this call and my lawyer only shall contact the firm. Suddenly, I was put to a supervisor and I explained the whole situation again. It was nearly 3 months since we reported the fault and insurance expiry term was looming large. This time we were given a date after 7 days.
Interestingly enough, I had told that supervisor that please tell the engineer the programme 3 is not working so bring appropriate stuff to resolve that issue. However, as you can imagine when that engineer turned up at 3pm on that fine day, said ohh the problem is with programme 3. Funny enough, he didn’t have the right equipment but he said he is leaving his tool kit at our place and will be back in an hour with the right electronic equipment. He did come after an hour and in 20 minutes time it was fixed.
While reflecting on this issue there are some interesting questions which are raised here.
First, it makes you think that how ridiculous service system exists in the UK and we still call ourselves a service economy. Why can’t companies give something like 2 or 3 hours lag at the max when providing a service or delivering some stuff? Why customers have to spend all day waiting for that person (delivery or service) to arrive? Why can’t they do such things before or after this 8-5pm time (that is the time most people will be back from work)? Isn’t this commonsense? Don’t these people understand the value of time at all (we roughly wasted 100 man hours our time on this 30 minute solution)? And in this age of technology is it really that difficult to actually provide some specific time for service or delivery?
I believe there is a great opportunity for differentiation for medium term for companies in the UK and elsewhere in the developed markets.