What’s happened to Carphone Warehouse, Charles?

Customers of Carphone Warehouse (CW) may not realise that the company started life as a couple of concessions within large office supply superstores in London. As the company grew, and opened its own standalone branches it stressed its excellence in employee knowledge and customer service. However the standard of service provided by Carphone Warehouse today is indistinguishable from many other lousy organisations that epitomise the crappy British service sector.

This is no surprise to many of Carphone Warehouse’s customers, including Shirley Greening-Jackson. As reported by today’s Mail on Sunday, Mrs Greening-Jackson discovered that CW has adopted a policy of “no over-70s” for their TalkTalk broadband product, at least if they are unaccompanied by a younger member of their family.

A CW spokeswoman said that the discretionary policy was instituted in response to accusations that the company had mis-sold its products last year, presumably to more mature members of society. Sadly it didn’t instead choose to better train its staff so that they could explain the terms and conditions of their products to its customers in a clear and simple fashion.

As Mrs Greening-Jackson put it,

“Somebody has decided when you turn 70 you lose a lot of your mind. I find this is ridiculous.”

TalkTalk has come under fire for its poor service levels since it began offering its free broadband product earlier this year. Customers have waited months for their activation and welcome packs, only to be fobbed off by customer service staff when they eventually get through a TalkTalk call centre. Requests for a refund for service not provided are laughed off, according to one Support Lounge customer who realises that he made a mistake choosing the free broadband offer instead of paying for his service from a reliable provider.

Responding to complaints about the service from TalkTalk, CW founder and boss Charles Dunstone promised earlier this year that customer service staffing numbers would be increased to around 2,200 by this month, September, but had not made any pledges to improve the underlying processes which have caused such abysmal service in the first place.

Unlike other company bosses like Philip Green of BHS and the former chairmen of Marks and Spencer (M&S), for whom regular visits to their various branches were and are vitally important to their continued success, Charles Dunstone appears to be a Chief Executive in absentia. Aside from his latest of blog entries declaring that all is well, there has been little to indicate that Mr Dunstone actually understands how infuriating it is deal with his company, or that he ever visits his own stores.

Go shopping at Carphone Warehouse, Charles. Knowing the standard of staff at your branches, it’s doubtful they’d recognise you, so you’d experience what everyone else does – crappy service.

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