Call Centres: do you have to wait?

  anchor 08:39 21 May 2005

Disturbing news from today`s Daily Telegraph:

Call centres run by large financial companies put less affluent customers on hold to give a more "personal" service to richer customers, says the head of the National Consumer Council, Britain's most influential consumer group. Most people are unaware of the way businesses use the electronic data held about them in sophisticated and manipulative ways, she said.

"Consumers are often uninformed about the extent to which technology can manipulate and extract information about them and the ways in which that might be used against them. If your shopping patterns suggest you are an AB person, then you are likely to receive personal service. If your shopping patterns suggest you are a C2, D or E person, then you are diverted to the call centre."

It found that more than 500 call centres used by leading banks, travel companies and retailers can pluck out wealthier customers from their postcodes and push them to the front of the queue. Information held about customers is increasingly sophisticated. Store loyalty cards record details of every transaction, letting supermarkets know more about a customer's shopping habits, tastes and way of life than they do.

"When you tot up all the information that is held about you, it's quite startling," Chairman Dame Deirdre said. "I am not sure that there is any turning back from that but I do think the consumer may start to worry."

Big Brother IS watching us!.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 09:21 21 May 2005

Meh! They can hold whatever information about me that they wish to store; it is all triple dull.


  Forum Editor 09:43 21 May 2005

That may be true, in fact I'm sure it's true, but as Dame Deirdre says, there's not much the consumer can do about it, and anyway I can't really see what the problem is to be honest. As GANDALF <|:-)> says (and has said many times before) it's all triple dull, this information.

One of my clients is a major European bank, and when I work at their offices I inevitably see customer information. What I see doesn't enable me to identify individuals, so there's no security breach, but frankly it's all incredibly boring anyway. My 'private' information is certainly of interest to me, but I doubt that too many other people are falling over themselves to get at it, and even if they are, what harm does it do me? If someone jumps ahead of me in a call-centre queue because they're richer or more interesting than me, so what? I couldn't care less, because I won't know about it in any case.

This business of privacy is something that intrigues me, insofar as we seem to be obsessed about it here, in the UK. When I travel to other countries I don't hear nearly so much talk about safeguarding personal information. We like to think that we are private people, but we're not any more - every time we use a credit card, or write a cheque, or fill in a form, or walk along a street even, someone knows about it, and records it. Our every move can be tracked, and most of the information that people tend to see as 'private' is recorded somewhere on some database - most probably on several databases.

I spend less than a millisecond a month worrying about all this - it's life in the 21st century as far as I'm concerned, and there are far more important things to be concerned about.

  mbp 09:49 21 May 2005

A possible Spoof? But following on it, where in the world would you find that there is no favouritism for, the rich, the powerful, the influential, the beautiful, the talented, the well spoken and polite? There is no such place. It is all a myth!

  Pooke100 10:34 21 May 2005

As the FE says "If someone jumps ahead of me in a call-centre queue because they're richer or more interesting than me, so what? I couldn't care less, because I won't know about it in any case".............exactly!

Hell, I must be the poorest sod on the planet - I always have to wait for yonks to get thru to anything, guess I know where I stand, eh? who cares, I don't really!

They can collect what they like about me, it'll put who ever reads it to sleep for sure.



  anchor 10:57 21 May 2005

Very true, but a long wait on an 0870 number can work out quite expensive.

  p;3 11:07 21 May 2005

agreed; and who is paying the phone bill:)

let alone getting profits from that call money even:(

is it called "Customer Service"?!

  richardb2 11:20 21 May 2005

I think lots of organisations are doing it. I phoned Orange a couple of weeks ago from my own mobile and was told on the IVR that the expected wait time would be around 20 minutes. Whilst holding I made a call from my partner's phone (who spends about £15 a month more than me) and was told the expected wait was around 5 minutes - the second call was answered first and my initial call was still holding in a queue by the time I finished the query.

As I was out of contract and looking for a new phone I decided that as my custom wasn't that valuable to Orange I decided to request termination and moved my number to Vodafone. As a result my partner's phone was also moved a week later.

The ironic thing here is that I was calling to ask about upgrading to the new 3G service - an expensive phone and a much higher monthly premium. Orange's segmentation however made me look elsewhere.

I'm sure other organisations do it as well - and I can understand the reasons behind it. At the end of the day it might promote a better service for customers deemed as higher value today however this is possibly at the expense of tomorrow's high value customers...

  spuds 12:45 21 May 2005

Now I know why I was 'on hold' for forty minutes the other day. Must be the fact that I was using a 0870 call centre in trying to obtain information to to minor problem. Their costs are making me poorer, and pushing me into the 'E' persons bracket for customer service.

  Pooke100 12:45 21 May 2005

I refuse to phone premium numbers point blank, to be honest, and things have been fine thus far.

It all boils down to human nature, we all make judgements on people we don't know from their appearance, how they speak, their body language and so on.

Working in retail and being paid commission you would always look out for the well dressed and people that looked like they had money to spend! These companies are just doing the same on a slightly different scale.........


  anchor 13:04 21 May 2005

The way I avoid some of those those annoying 0870 numbers. First, I use:

click here

(just 2p connection fee for any length of call in the UK)

then find a "normal" number from here:

click here

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