Sir, – Thank you to Justine McCarthy for highlighting the disempowerment of the ordinary shopper and the contempt with which many utility companies treat their customers, particularly the way they penalise those who are older or not tech-savvy (“Politicians do nothing as banks and utilities treat customers with contempt”, Opinion & Analysis, September 30th).
Online services can be efficient but only if they are backed up by a customer service which doesn’t leave you tethered to your phone for hours at a time as you hope for an actual human being to sort out a problem. And where is the equal treatment in having a catch a new customer gimmick rather than a loyalty bonus? Who wants to spend their free time filling in online forms to cancel one service and enrol for a similar one from someone else? Also the security conditions to access many online accounts penalise those who, because of age or infirmity, cannot enter long strings of numbers within a short time-frame – this too is an equality issue. State regulation for such utilities is lacking: such regulators and commissions are often so poorly resourced that they can do little for the ordinary consumer. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – One day last week I had two tasks: talk to my bank about a problem and collect shirts from a laundrette. In the first, despite going through menus, passwords and identifiers, I failed. The problem arose after the chat service closed (and it remained so the next day) and I could not, no matter how I tried, get a human to talk to me.
I went into a laundrette in Dunville Avenue, where I have gone for 44 years, but only two or three times a year, to be greeted by a lady I last saw in early 2021 with, “McGee, shirts?”
How far our world has progressed! – Yours, etc,