“We’ve Just Updated our Computer System Sirâ€?

I should know when a customer service agent assures you that the computer system has just been updated, and the weird letter you’ve just had from the company in question is just an isolated incident, that it’s just the agent trying to be optimistic, and pass the thorny problem on to someone else a couple of weeks down the line…

A couple of weeks back I had a letter from O2 stating that there would be a change in my direct debit details for my next bill – now it has to say that this came as a bit of a surprise as I haven’t had any bills from O2 for about a year since we switched away onto 3. The letter unfortunately didn’t have much information on it but I spent a while on the phone with the customer service agent whilst she checked various systems and found that my account had been closed, and that there were no other accounts in my name listed on the system. She finished up with the immortal phrase “We’ve just updated our computer system sir, the letter was obviously sent in error and you shouldn’t receive any others.â€?

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised though when another envelope from O2 popped through the door – this time a bill for 98p for one of the phones on the account they closed last year. So, onto the phone to customer service again, and this time I ended up talking to somebody in cancellations, who initially tried to put me through the standard cancellation process that I had completed last year, after a bit of grumbling about that – they of course hadn’t billed me on this account for the past twelve months – he disappeared off to investigate the old system, before phoning me back to explain the problem.

It seems that the cause of the letter and the new bill is indeed the switch to the new computer system – although in fact it goes back to whoever closed my account not having done it correctly in the first place. The phone that has reappeared was one that I got as a result of a special offer years ago that after an initial purchase price had no line rental charge, and only charged for calls, which Dad was using as an emergency phone up until he to switched to 3. The key limitation was that it was linked to my main account, so if for example I closed my account it would close also – which is what happened last year when I closed the account. I did check up on what would happen with it when I closed the account and was assured that it would close as part of the standard process as it was associated.

It appeared that this is what had happened – I’d received all the final bills, and no further bills for any of the phones – what appears to have happened now is that they didn’t properly close the linked account, but that it hadn’t been being billed. Perhaps it’s been producing an ignored error for the last twelve months, I don’t know, but when the account was moved across to the new system, the moving process appears to have generated a new full account with no record of the link, and this is what has started billing. The phone itself is long since recycled, the 98p is actually an itemised billing charge – to tell me that there were no calls of course… Anyway, O2 are going to refund my 98p, and have closed the account again, without all the usual requirement for notification by letter – generous considering that they already had that last year. Hopefully this should be the last I hear from O2 – at least until I give into temptation and buy an iPhone.

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