News Again from Deutsche Telekom’s Service Hell

I got a lot of don’t-be-so-negative responses on my criticism (and more here) of the Deutsche Telekom’s sustainability campaign (watch the spot here). Not here in my blog but on the phone and in e-mails, most of it from former colleagues at DT who say everybody likes the campaign internally and they feel it works to move the image of the company outside, too.

My criticism was not so much about the campaign itself but that the issue of environmental responsibility is of lesser relevance for a company that still has a major service problem. And my most recent experiences only further prove the point. My promised eulogy about why I actually love the brand and the company and see a lot of potential will therefore have to wait some more.

What happened?

A few weeks ago, I bathed my iPhone in cleaning water that had been left in my rental car without me noticing it and it went dead. When I took it to the next T Shop for repairs, the clerk informed me about the next steps, quite a number of steps actually. First, they would send it to their repairs department by an internal delivery system that only picks up stuff at the shops one or 2 times a week. Then I would receive a repairs proposal and costs by mail, which I would have to sign and return, again by mail. Then they would start working on the device; although the shop rep informed me that most of the times, devices would be replaced with a new one. I asked why they don’t just hand out new ones in the shop, cutting a few days out of the long-winding process. Not possible for some internal reason. I didn’t even ask for a replacement because I still had my 2G iPhone in the drawer. But I don’t remember him asking me if I needed one, now that I think about it.

Hamburg, Winterhuder Marktplatz

My next T Shop is located at the Winterhuder Marktplatz in Hamburg. I intentionally reveal the location because I want this kind of ruthless sales tactics to be castigated.

Then I quickly mentioned the costs and the fact that I have bought an insurance with my first iPhone and therefore expect them to deal with the insurance company directly and not bother me with any bills. Nope. “We’re not the insurance company, you know.” – “I know. So you just sack the commission and leave it with that?” Expectably, he didn’t answer the rhethorical question. Every car repair shop spares me the hassle of dealing with insurance companies these days, why can’t the Deutsche Telekom? Another opportunity for a positive service surprise missed.

But the shop rep left the best for last. While I was getting ready to leave he started asking me about my fixed line. I said that I was indeed planning to move my office phone and broadband to DT but didn’t have time to discuss it now, and left the shop. The surprise came a few days later in the mail: order confirmations for a full triple play package. The lady in the call center wasn’t at all surprised when I cancelled the orders …

As long as DT systematically fails at every opportunity to give their customers a friendly service experience, they can advertise their environmental friendliness as long as they want and it won’t do anything for their business.

And if they continue to burn their reputation with aggressive and deceptive sales tactics faster than they can build it with friendly advertising, the rate of “unfriending DT” isn’t likely to go down.

A company that doesn’t sanction short-sighted pushing of sales internally will be sanctioned by the customers.

UPDATE: Now I’ve received a call from the research agency that does DT’s customer satisfaction tracking to ask me about my recent visit of the T shop at Hamburg’s Winterhuder Marktplatz. Running through the list of multiple-choice questions, I systematically ticked the negative ends of all scales slightly relevant to my experience, e.g. “trustworthy”, “reliable”, “in good hands”. To help my interviewer understand what I was doing I played naive and explained to her why my judgement was so negative, that it was only in hindsight after finding out that I had been the object of a deceit. She actually had one open question in her script and I suggested to her that I describe the whole story as my answer to that question; although the question actually was about something completely different. But at least, there would be a documentation of the event. She was a bit uneasy about the idea but conceded – after all, her job was to write what I said, at that point in the interview, without censoring it. But half way into it she ran out of space. Then I asked her if she could put me in contact with a DT representative to explain my negative judgement. But, eeeh, she couldn’t. She had no contact with the client and no script how to handle this kind of situation.

What’s left now is to call the complaints hotline. Which means an escalation that can cause significant damage to the rep in the store but will leave the sales managers that drive their teams into this kind of sell-don’t think-about-tomorrow rage completely unbruised. I won’t.

My extreme responses to the satisfaction tracking will disappear in the averages. And it’ll look good with room for improvements, as always.

I know that DT is not another company that wants to measure, not listen. But I know how damn hard it looks from inside to move from measuring to listening.

(Shortlink to this post:


  1. Christoph Kepper

    Hallo Herr Lucas,

    ich arbeite im Kundenservice der Telekom und würde Sie gerne bei der Lösung Ihrer Probleme unterstützen. Wenn Sie Interesse haben, schreiben Sie einfach an meine E-Mailadresse.

    Viele Grüße
    Christoph Kepper

    • lokomotivebreath

      Hallo Herr Kepper,

      danke für Ihr Angebot! Davon mache ich gern Gebrauch und melde mich per E-Mail.
      Viele Grüße

      Uwe Lucas

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