Empty brand promise is no shock to me

Just when I thought I was the only bemused NTL customer I e-consumer (e-volve February 22).

I think it’s fair to say that most of us were reeled in by NTL’s brand-busting promise of unmetered Internet access when it broke into the market as a key ISP and telecommunications player last year.

Writing as a “failed customer”, I have never met with such astounding incompetence and appalling customer service. Ellis Watson has talked about how every business, no matter how big, pays lip-service to the mantra of customer service, but usually falls woefully short of the mark and loses out to its competitors. NTL has taken this to extremes.

Suffice to say, without recounting the entire farrago:

v number of calls to the customer service line in two months: 59

– average number of minutes on hold: 30

– percentage of calls actually answered: ten

– months waiting to receive NTL disk: nine (by which time I had moved).

In short, after being billed four months running for a service that was never used, it took a letter threatening legal action and an insistence that I had taped a conversation with an operative, and would send it to every Sunday newspaper editor (of which I know none) before anything happened. Funnily enough, it happened with such speed and alacrity that I was left gasping for breath.

Finally, my account for a service that I had never used, in a house I no longer lived in was terminated. How did it all come about? I was told that the area (central Birmingham) I was moving to was cabled and ready to go. Sound familiar?

So there it is… possibly a classic example of a USP coupled with enough marketing spend to cut through the clutter and clout you round the head… a marketer’s dream that remains locked up in the dark undiscovered cavern of unfulfilled brand promise because the brand can’t practice what it preaches.

No doubt the FA is rubbing its hands at the prospect of tucking into yet another big juicy sponsorship deal, but if you ask me whether I would relive the NTL brand experience I wouldn’t touch it with the greasiest broadband barge pole I could find.

C’mon guys the formula is simple. Put up… or shut up!

Phil White

The Marketing Store

Birmingham

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