Viagogo gets its customer service right as a bank goes in the wrong direction

Simon Read has been talking with two fairly distressed people this week

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The Independent Online

Some interesting problems have been raised with me by readers this week. Among the usual complaints about energy providers and telecoms companies, I started the week by talking with two fairly distressed people. One of them was a harassed mother, worried that her daughter's tickets for the One Direction concert on Wednesday this week hadn't arrived.

The other was an older reader with a tale of woe centred on £5,000 that had disappeared and his long battle with his bank to retrieve it.

After speaking with both, I called the companies concerned. The way the problems were dealt with serves, first, as an illuminating illustration of why good customer service is important and how easy it is to get it right – and second, why disgruntled customers are leaving the big banks in droves to find a decent alternative.

Back to the One Direction tickets. Sharon called me to report that her daughter's tickets for the concert at London's O2 arena had last been seen at a UPS office in Nottingham the previous Wednesday – but had since disappeared.

She had made several calls to the delivery company and was eventually left trying to sort out the mess with Viagogo, the online agency where she had bought the tickets.

On Monday she had difficulty contacting Viagogo so turned to me in desperation. After I called the firm, it leapt into action and arranged replacement tickets, although its communications boss Oliver Wheeler told me: "This would have been picked up by our automated system and sorted before the concert." He added that every customer is emailed a phone number on the day of their event in case they need it.

The result? Happy customers who went on to enjoy their concert – including, presumably, "Best Song Ever".

Now back to the bank. When I spoke to it on Monday, it promised to report back after investigating the story. Despite a follow-up call on Thursday, I'm still waiting to hear their response.

There could be any number of understandable reasons for the delay, but without knowing what they are, I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to help the reader so far. Because I plan to continue chasing the story, I won't name the bank as it would be unfair to do so without hearing its version of events.

But in completely unrelated news this week, Barclays was named as the bank that attracted the most complaints in the first half of the year. The Financial Conduct Authority reported that Barclays got more than 140,000 complaints between January and June, while NatWest in second place received nearly 96,000 – in a period when the number of banking complaints soared by almost a third.

The FCA's director of strategy and competition, Christopher Woolard, said: "This is the second half-year running we have seen complaints about banking products rise. Firms need to look at the causes for this rise and where necessary take action to address them." Improving customer service would be a good start.

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