Today in my strategic marketing management class, my Dutch teacher, when emphasizing the importance of a customer said, “And as they say in Holland, customer is King!”
I have never met a country with lower self awareness.
In Holland the customer is paid least attention to: whether you are getting internet fixed, a washing machine fixed, a mobile subscription, a coffee, or just buying a purse – by and large the Dutch are apathetic and customers are NOT treated as kings. The only great customer service is in coffee shops.
And to explain my heights of frustration with Dutch customer service, here’s my story of dealing with Tele2 Internet:
- I ordered Internet (20 Euro a month for up to 20 Mbps) by telephone through Tele2 in the second week of January. At that time, I said I don’t have an active phone line so the woman on the telephone also added a KPN line for an additional 5 Euro a month.
- The starting date for the connection was noted as Feb 8 (they take three whole weeks to deliver it). The modem arrived 3 days before that.
- I found only one telephone line in my house. I tried to install the modem but it didn’t work with that telephone line. (I have configured several modems before this).
- On Feb 9, I called tele2 and told them that the phone line doesn’t work. These calls cost 10c per minute. They told me that the phone line is working and it is located near the gas cabinet.
- On Feb 9, my landlord came home and we searched everywhere for an alternate phone line. But it wasn’t there – nothing in the gas cabinet. We looked everywhere.
- On Feb 10, I called Tele2 and told them about the phone line situation. They asked me to make an appointment with an engineer. I got an appointment for 4 days later – Feb 15. The person who gives the appointment said the engineer will come any time between 12 and 5. I asked her to narrow the time frame as I will be at university. With much hesitation, she put a note that the engineer should come between 2 and 5. She noted that she was making an exception because I am a student. (I guess Dutch households always have one stay home person who will be home on a weekday for hours just waiting for someone?) Tele2 subcontracts its engineering to another company. I also explained the problem to them about the phone line @10c per minute.
- On Feb 15, the engineer came at 2:30 PM and said that the phone line is dead (something I already told them on the phone). They took 70 Euro as engineer fee to tell me something I already knew (another example of how the customer was heard out). The engineer then said someone from KPN will call me within 3 hours to take an appointment to get the phone line. And I don’t have to pay extra for that engineer.
- That call came the next day at 8 am and I made an appointment for between 12 and 2 pm. The KPN person never came during the appointment time.
- On Feb 17, I called Tele2 and asked them about the appointment. They said that in their log, the appointment took place and the phone line is working. I explained that the phone line is not working and no one came home. Then they said it is not their problem and I have to call KPN and get the phone line sorted out. So I asked to cancel the connection, and they said the cancellation fee is 249 Euro.
- So left with no choice, I called KPN and they said they can’t help me because I am not a KPN customer. Since Tele2 is their customer I have to contact Tele2 and Tele2 has to contact KPN (again something I asked Tele2 about). Please also note that all these calls are 10c a min and all the auto voices are in Dutch. It takes around 5 minutes to get a real person on the phone.
- Then I called Tele2 – this time crying out of frustration, and finally they accepted some sort of responsibility and said that someone will come to check my telephone line. But they didn’t give either a day or a time. They said “hopefully this week.”
Let’s see the situation so far
- I have spent over 7 hours in total trying to troubleshoot – one hour of this has been spent on the phone with Tele2 @ 10c per min.
- I have paid 70 Euro to an engineer for doing nothing.
- I have been sold an internet connection and leased an imaginary phone line and nothing has materialized.
- To cancel this imaginary connection, I have to pay a cancellation fee of 250 Euro.
- I have no internet connection for 1.5 months now.
Of course, CUSTOMER is KING in HOLLAND! As long as he can pay like one :)
This is a notice to all Telecom companies out there – if your customer service is good and you really care about selling internet – Holland is a good market! There’s certainly no competition here.