Monday, March 18, 2013

Admit it CPS, you done screwed up...

In January our CPS (San Antonio electricity provider - the only game in town by the way) credited us. Nobody could figure out why. Not even the CPS reps. Then we received a disconnect notice that if we don't pay it back THIS WEEK they'd shut our power off.

"Huh? Excuse you?" That was my first thought when I got the letter on Saturday (when their Customer Service is closed by the way). OK, OK, there were more expletives in there. I'll admit it. *eye roll*

I emailed their "feedback" email. No response. No call back. So I called them. There was almost a 2 hour wait but they'll call me when it's my turn. And they did, almost two hours later. The woman informed me there was no record of me calling to ask about the credit and stated that since there was no record she had to assume it didn't happen (excuse you? so a computer can misapply a payment but not miss logging a call? OK, got ya) and was just generally hostile. So I told her to have a good day and hung up before paying or making payment arrangements with her.

I went home and wrote a nice long letter with suggestions for how to improve. Not that they care, they're the only provider in town, who cares if we hate them? I stated in my letter that I knew it would get trashed even. So I would like to share it with you and the rest of the Internet because you know what? Nobody important at CPS is going to see that letter, and there's no identifying information in it to damn anyone personally. It's all accurate information that can be documented (since they recorded my call!). So here's what I wrote to them:

March 18, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

Attached you will find the payment coupon for customer number X for a balance that was recently found to be incorrectly credited to our account. When I noticed this inaccuracy, I called CPS upon receiving my statement and asked if the amount was due to estimated usage versus actual usage differences. The woman I spoke to said she did not know and would get back to me. She never did. We then received a disconnect notice in the mail this past Friday or Saturday – by the time I received the notice the offices for Customer Service were closed and I was unable to ask about these supposed charges that we had not paid. Upon researching my bills, I found that this amount matched the incorrectly credited amount from January. I called CPS Monday and waited over an hour to be called back. While I was informed of this wait time, I think it might be useful for CPS to provide more Customer Service Representatives so that wait times are not so long.
When I did speak to a CSR, I was informed that all of their calls were logged by a computer and there was no record of me calling to ask about the credit. The CSR became disrespectful and I exited the conversation – I will not set up a payment plan with a CSR who is not well trained enough to not give a customer attitude. I find it questionable that a computer system (or a human) can misapply a payment but that a computer system is not capable of not logging that I called. I find it further questionable and incredibly unprofessional that CPS did not contact us regarding the incorrectly applied payment before simply sending us a disconnect notice. If I had received a letter stating that an error had been made and that the funds needed to be repaid, I would have done so quickly and easily. Instead, I am left wishing that there was another electricity provider in San Antonio that I could switch to – that is how disrespected as a customer and as a human I feel.
Please take these suggestions to heart:
1)                   Admit any errors when they are recognized and inform the customer in writing of the error. Ask them to contact Billing in order to make payment arrangements as most people cannot pay double their bill in one month. For us, I simply did not want to call back and talk to another rude CSR and thus I took money out of our college savings to simply pay this off and be done with it.
A possible letter could read:
Dear Mr. X:
            We recently recognized that a credit of $230.03 was inappropriately applied to your account. We apologize for this error and any inconvenience this may cause you. This credit needs to be re-paid, and as it was our error we would like to work with you to set up payment arrangements so that the repayment can be less of a financial burden. Please contact our Payments office at X Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to discus payment arrangements.
Customer Service
2)                   Train CSRs so that they do not become hostile even with frustrated customers.  Customers are not your sounding board; you cannot get “mouthy” with them and expect them to be polite or hospitable to you.
3)                   Actually offer Customer Service on the weekends. This would no doubt cut down on the number of calls you have to field during the week, which will cut down on wait time and increase customer satisfaction. Your communications with your customers indicate they can receive Customer Service 24 hours per day. This is incorrect. They can hear an automated system tell them how much their bill is 24 hours per day. That is not customer service.
I am aware that this letter will most likely be thrown in the trash – what motivation does a company have to make itself better when it is the only electricity provider in town? None. If this letter isn’t thrown away immediately upon opening, I hope that someone who is capable of making changes reads it and at least thinks about the suggestions I have described here.