Customer Service

Transport for London 2FA

Transport for London (TfL) has set up Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on their Oyster Card website which means no more access for me. I will explain.

What is the Oyster Card

Like other transport systems, TfL has the Oyster Card, a credit card size payment system to ride on the London Underground network. More here.

Why I Prefer To Use Oyster Online

London is a completely crazy city with rude and impatient people trying to get from one place to another with the least possible barriers. Loading up an Oyster Card via the TfL website or app, or setting up auto-reloads means one doesn’t have to wait to use a machine and can do that from anywhere with an internet connection. The modern world is interconnected and about reducing workflows in getting things done. I have enjoyed setting these things up from here in Canada prior to making a trip home.

Having a record of transactions from the Oyster Card account is great for submitting backup information for tax returns and per deim.

How The TfL Update Affects Me and Others

This was the announcement from TfL regarding their new 2FA setup. So this means, if your IP address is outside of Europe you will no longer be able to login to your Oyster account. Their setup in Cloudflare has also blocked VPNs from accessing the site as well.

So for me, this means:

  • I can no longer access my Oyster Card account
  • I cannot review my balance
  • I cannot view or change any of my details; address, credit card, notifications etc

Even If I’m back in the UK I can’t use their site/app because I have a Canadian mobile.

So, I am sent back in time before the Oyster Card website was created and will have to resort to doing everything manually; lining up in a busy tube ticket hall in a more complex workflow.


London is the only city that has created this restriction, as far as I’m aware. Even though I’m a UK citizen and voter I’m now, in TfL’s eyes, a “visitor”, a bit of a condescending blow really. If they had set up the 2FA using an authentication app that would have been better than text SMS only service. It’s a matter of accessibility vs security vs ensuring London is open for business from all corners of the world. The more barriers that are created the less likely I’m open to doing business with people.

There really is no point in having a login account with Oyster anymore so I will reach out to them to delete/deactivate it.

In addition to the above, contacting customer service at TfL presented some barriers. I can’t reach an 0343 number from Canada and their online form wouldn’t accept Canadian telephone numbers, and their social media team “didn’t have access” to answer my question. So, it’s pretty frustrating.

I shall update this blog entry should I receive a response from TfL.

UPDATE as of 11th January 2023

The Good – they respond quickly despite their target being 10 days. A 10-day turnaround for customer service requests is dire in 2023 but pleased this is not the case with them.

The Bad – everything else.
Trying to get them to delete my online Oyster account is impossible. So much back and forth with zero results. They never read what has been written to them. They are not thinking that London is an international city. The customer service process for international customers is too difficult. They close a ticket without taking any action. The social media team don’t have access to account information and is useless at those issues.

I had a customer service request about 4 years ago and experienced the same back and forth then, so there really hasn’t been much progress within the organisation.

The story continues…

UPDATE as of 12th January 2023

The TfL social media team advised me to write to a particular email address, this generated another ticket. Now 2 tickets on the go, one of which TfL closed without taking any action.

I was getting so fed up with TfL so I decided to bite the bullet and make an international call to them. I was less than happy. Despite going through their long tedious call centre workflow the rep answered fairly quickly. He then couldn’t find my Oyster Card on the system, despite a previous rep finding it ok, and took some back & forth to get to it. Gave him details to refund the Oyster Cards on the system. I asked him to delete my Oyster account which he said would happen within 28 days. Due to the gong show of poor customer service, I asked for written confirmation of the deletion which he refused to do, only verbally.

Hopefully, this resolves everything but the whole issue of denying access to those travelling or based overseas is contrary to London being an “international” city and “open for business”. It’s not good in my opinion.

UPDATE as of 13th January 2023

I thought yesterday was the end of the story and I wouldn’t hear from them again. However, for some reason their system keep generating new issue tickets, I’ve now got 5 of them that are open. There is no correspondence attached to them, just acknowledgments of different ticket reference numbers. I have no idea what is going on with these people but will wait to see how things turn out. It’s quite laughable really.

UPDATE as of 16th January 2023

I received the refund they promised to my bank account, I consider that a minor miracle.  However, they still have a number of tickets open against my name so who knows what is going to happen to them.

UPDATE as of 23rd January 2023

I received a lengthy form email from them to notify me that they had deleted my account. However, it looks as though it won’t be a complete GDPR “right to be forgotten” action as they said they would keep certain things on file about me and continue to send me emails. I specifically ask them not to send me certain messages so not sure if that will happen, we shall see.

2023-01-24T00:28:13+00:0010 January 2023|Customer Service, United Kingdom|

Bad Customer Service Awards 2022

Every year I do a review of my customer service experiences for the past 12 months. 2022 has been a particularly bad year.

This year’s winners in my Bad Customer Service Awards are:

  1. First OnSite
  2. Redbubble
  3. Skip The Dishes

These are my experiences with the companies I’ve had to deal with:


This company in Scotland never responded to a GDPR request I sent them. What is GDPR?


I had ongoing difficulties with their pharmacy with lost prescriptions, not being able to get through to them on the phone and general confusion in their back office. Their excuse was “we are the busiest pharmacy in Canada” which just doesn’t work with me, I don’t like being bullshitted to.

However, since they’ve finally put their service online, it makes life much easier as there is less face-to-face connection.

First OnSite

This is a restoration company here in British Columbia, I wrote about them here.

This company clearly was the worst of 2022 but I did come to the conclusion that restoration companies are rip off’s, they don’t actually do much, charge a lot of money, and just organize other companies to do the work. Clearly, it would be cheaper just to approach those companies ourselves and do our own project management.


A branch manager in the UK is supposed to reach out to me and I still haven’t heard anything. I think I can forget that one, suspect they don’t really care about me.

The sale of HSBC Canada to the Royal Bank of Canada is quite concerning, I wrote about this here.


If only…! If only I had read the reviews of this company prior to ordering from it. The most telling one is on the Better Business Bureau website which states:

Pattern of Complaint: Redbubble came to BBB’s attention in July 2010. A review of complaints was done in November 2022. Based on BBB files the company has a pattern of complaints. The pattern found is complainants state they receive no response when contacting customer service to resolve issues. BBB is in the process of reaching out to Redbubble to address BBB’s concerns and will update the profile accordingly.

I ordered a couple of products from this company, but they never arrived within the promised time. The company’s customer service is non-existent taking a week to respond which is totally ridiculous for the amount of money this company makes. Their CEO just tweets from Australia taking his dog for a walk along the beach while the company is in a state of collapse.

People I had connected with mostly ordered via PayPal and they just reversed their charge rather than wait any longer for the company to respond. Others, who paid by credit card, opened fraud cases with their bank.

I found out, regarding my order, that Redbubble just sat on the parcel not passing it to the courier for weeks even though they said it had been shipped. This company thinks little of its customers and is lying to them too. It’s a shame for the artists concerned so hopefully, they can find a different way to connect with those who want to buy their products.

Skip The Dishes

I ordered food via their app and got a message to say it had arrived. The driver never ensured it got delivered to the right address and of course, they left it somewhere else.

I got on their app’s customer service which was just an awful experience. The rep must have been answering several at the same time and just wasn’t responding. When they did respond they could only answer in copy/paste messages, obviously from their call centre database, which was painfully annoying. In the meantime, we were looking at every house down the street to see if we could find where the driver had left the food. After almost 45 minutes of trying to get a response from their customer service, they eventually said they would provide a refund for what I asked for, however, given the erratic nature of the person I was texting I went on Twitter the next day. Eventually, they did return the money but what a complete nightmare dealing with them. At the end of the day, I wish I just had beans on toast for my dinner, I felt sick to my stomach to eat what I actually ordered.

I deleted my account and will never use them again. Most likely these companies are ripping off restaurants too and I feel better going there myself to pick something up.


They discontinued their worldwide service to many countries. Obtaining information from their customer service was worse than pulling teeth. However, looking back, I don’t really miss them.


I have updated my blog entry with happenings from 2022. A minor mish-mash of good and bad.

2023-01-03T18:45:44+00:003 January 2023|Customer Service|


HSBC was sold to the Royal Bank of Canada this week for an obscene amount. I’m not an expert in banking but thought I would discuss what this means to me.


The Royal Bank of Canada has signed a deal to buy HSBC Canada for CAD $13.5 billion. The deal will close by the end of 2023 and at that stage, it will take several months to migrate current HSBC customers to its bank.  RBC thinks it’s a way to expand internationally and add to its client base. They are supposedly going to integrate technology to meet the commercial capability and globally connected client base.

The deal will need regulatory approval so there will be some obstacles that they will have to get through.

The Good and the Bad

HSBC Canada is a little backward compared to other Canadian banks and its UK equivalent. The benefits that other people enjoy with other banks I don’t have with HSBC. I can’t add Debit to my iPhone since HSBC hasn’t signed up for Visa Debit or a similar service. I can’t use online verification services as HSBC hasn’t signed up for them, these include a login to Canadian government services. It would be a major benefit to me should RBC provide these services to migrated customers.

One of the major must-have facilities for me is to transfer money from HSBC UK to HSBC Canada. If money comes into my UK account I can then transfer it to my pound-sterling account in Canada, at no cost. Then, when the transfer rate is to my benefit, I convert it into my CAD$ account. Transferring at a time that is convenient to me vs getting it paid directly into my Canadian account from future pension payments and other reasons allows me to earn more from my money. HSBC Canada has many Asian clients for exactly that reason, transferring cash from HSBC Hong Kong is one such example. RBC need to think globally and provide equivalent or better services, otherwise, I would not be happy.

There has been a lot in the news about the reputation of HSBC being linked with unglamorous customers who may have a slightly dodgy background. I believe that will be a risk to reputation exercise for RBC so it had better review the security aspect of this deal.

HSBC vs RBC Customer Service

HSBC has not been great over the years.

I am supposed to have a named contact at HSBC Belgravia, London, but despite reaching out that person has never had the courtesy of replying.

It took over 1 year for HSBC to respond to a question here in Canada, then I just gave up on a service I was going to buy.

At this stage I don’t know too much about the customer service of RBC, however, looking through Yelp reviews it’s not great. Our local branch receives a 3/5, and other nearby branches don’t receive any greater than 2/5.

Online Feedback

I was checking out online what people are saying about this story. According to The Financial Post, it could affect mortgages. Some are saying that HSBC is beholden to China. Some have put an anti-Trudeau slant on it saying companies have no appetite to invest in Canada anymore. Some say it gives more power to the minority of banks. So, I’m not an expert on this subject, I really can’t comment on what they say.


It’s an excellent opportunity to review who I want to do business with. For example, I don’t have to move to RBC if another bank, with a better reputation, can provide equal or better services. It’s always good to bank with more than one institution too, if one goes belly up I would have another for continuity.

2022-12-01T00:03:06+00:001 December 2022|Customer Service|

Customer Service Restoration

Back in February two apartments above us had a leaky pipe, the water mainly affected the apartment above us but also did some minor damage to our kitchen as well. This is our journey to get the issue fixed.

In The Beginning

The day that it happened we called the local handyman and he drilled a hole in our kitchen ceiling so that the water would spread further into our walls. That did the trick and only affected a small part of the ceiling.  I felt sorry for those people above us as the water did affect them more.

Then we started on our journey to get this fixed which was more stressful than the actual leak.


This is the company we have our insurance with. Initially, we had hoped that the apartment where the issue came from would get their insurance company to deal with all claims, we didn’t cause the incident, why should we pay for it out of our insurance. In fact, those are in the strata rules of where we live. However, when we initially contacted BCAA they said this was a building infrastructure problem rather than an accident caused by that apartment, so we would have to pay for it. I still don’t agree with this path but there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

After that initial disappointment dealing with BCAA was ok. They were quite communicative, responding to our questions quickly, providing us with good explanations, and explaining things well. They paid us for certain expenses and the cheque came through very quickly.

First OnSite

This is a restoration company that was recommended to us and they were an approved supplier with BCAA. Our experience with First OnSite was very poor.

  • They said “we get bad reviews”, well, now we know why.
  • They said they would start the work in 2-3 weeks, 2 months later…sigh.
  • Their so-called “project management” was non-existent and through most of it, we did it. Project Management was about 10% of the bill, that was 10% more than they actually did. What they know about project management couldn’t fill up the backside of a postage stamp.
  • Their communication was really bad. The project manager never writes back to us. The scope of the project was poorly communicated. Really didn’t have a handle on scheduling their sub-contractor. Two people arrived unannounced by their project manager.
  • We provided feedback but there was still no improvement in their service levels.
  • 3-4 times they tried to sell us their moving services, however, no move was required. I think they just tried to sell us something that wasn’t really necessary, we only learned the scope and move requirement (ie minimal move that we could handle) when their sub-contractor arrived. Really, a restoration company should know the scope of work of such a simple project.
  • They mixed up the final sign off documentation, the project manager thought it had been sent to us, but wasn’t.
  • We project managed with the sub-contractor, First OnSite said they couldn’t start for another two weeks but when we dealt with them directly they started on Monday after we called them.
  • Their cleaners didn’t do the deep clean that we asked for, I had to clean after they cleaned.
  • Their estimate wasn’t very detailed and their invoice basically said: “see estimate”. We had taken note of all the hours worked on this project so from the First OnSite perspective it was difficult to tally things up.

Numerous restoration companies had worked in our community and they are basically all the same. When speaking to sub-contractors who know what they are doing our confidence is restored but it appears restoration companies are full of administrators who should probably just act as referral agents rather than pretend to be subject matter experts.


This is the company that did the main labour on the damage. They used their sub-contractor to do the job. I would say they did a pretty decent job, there were things that could have been better but generally, I was quite pleased.

If we could have bypassed First OnSite and gone directly to Bender this project would have been far less stressful.


These are my lessons learned:

  • Just because you didn’t cause an accident doesn’t mean an insurance company will go after someone else to pay for it.
  • Bypass restoration companies if you can but if you have no choice but to use them then watch them like a hawk, they might diddle you or forget you exist for months.
  • Ask the insurance company, if you do any of the work yourself, like moving items, having to stay in a hotel, eating dinners out, and what you can claim back on. We did some stuff ourselves, got compensated for it, and saved the insurance company hundreds of dollars.
  • If you live in an apartment block see what there are in the rules about damage by other apartments.
  • If others are affected compare notes and worth collectively to resolve issues as they come up.
2022-06-20T17:36:50+00:0020 May 2022|Customer Service|

Customer Service Update April 2022

As you can see from the length of this blog entry I’m not having a good time with companies right now. Some are minor issues and some are more serious. I keep forgiving them due to the pandemic and the lack of finding staff to do work these days, but to a certain extent, it really isn’t my problem.  If they make promises, they should keep them.

Restoration Work

I won’t name the companies yet for this work. An upstairs neighbour had a water leak which came down two floors into our apartment. It caused some minor damage. Going through our insurance company it took a little while for them to agree to pay for the damages, however, they said they wouldn’t chase after the insurance company of the household that caused the damage, they should have done.

The restoration company they are using to do our work is next to useless.

The first thing their project manager said to use “we always get bad reviews”, well, I can see why:

  • Their project management is non-existent.
  • Poor communication with us ignoring emails and requests for answers.
  • There is poor communication between their company and sub-contractors.
  • Suggesting we should pay for something which their sub-contractor said is not needed.
  • Promised work would start within 2-3 weeks yet it’s been 2 months now.

We were told this is not an unusual practice and performance levels from restorations companies in this area. Sigh.


I had previously complained that their drivers are speeding in our neighbourhood. Well, they keep on speeding. Just like other complaints Amazon just pushes out a copy and paste message.

The company are now raising their Prime subscription by $20 which is quite a jump. Is it worth continuing with that subscription based on the poor performance of the company, I have experienced:

  • One-day delivery is rarely that, usually three days minimum.
  • Their TV offering is poor compared to other services.
  • The continuing poor behaviour when driving in our neighbourhood.
  • Poor treatment of staff; anti-union and more.


This is the company that my data might have been uploaded to as a result of a hack at our property management company. Since this was a GDPR request they should have responded within a month, but they failed to do so. I will have to investigate my next steps.


I had quite a lot of issues with them this past month, in particular getting repeat medication. They were constantly faxing back and forth to obtain authorization from the doctor. In one conversation they mentioned my “wife” making the assumption I was straight, yes, it seems some people still do that which is extremely tiring.

On my last visit, they said they still hadn’t got anything back from the doctor despite him faxing them 2 days prior. A whole bunch of their staff got involved and they eventually found it in their system, they had received it. What a mess.


They finally notified me of a change in fees. They should have informed customers when they announced it to the media, Amazon did this.


This UK TV channel had been broadcasting over YouTube until a message appeared saying it wasn’t available for my region, meaning Canada. I noticed on Twitter that people in other parts of the world experienced the same issue, including South Africa and Cyprus. The service is still available in the US, India and other countries, I VPN’d to check.

Contacting SkyNews was problematic. It took a stream of tweets for them to respond. When they did they provided me with an email address. Someone responded with a non-answer as though they performed zero research, sounded as though they just wanted to get rid of me.


Since Amazon had issues obtaining ink cartridges for my printer I thought I would try elsewhere. Despite being $20 more expensive Staples was the cheapest of the bunch. I checked on their website and they had 8 in stock at the local store so we drove there.

When we got there they said they had none in stock. I asked why it stated 8 on the website and they gave no comment. I tweeted about it, the usual copy/paste comments back from Staples, I didn’t want to get into another back and forth with another company. Eventually, Amazon delivered the cartridges which is good news.


As our community of 400 homes are all with Telus Home service we eventually got our 25% discount. Not only good for us but also the majority of people living here are seniors on a limited pension.

Telus hadn’t responded to my multiple reports of poor mobile signal in our area. I called them again and after being transferred from one person to the next I finally got to speak to someone who could help. Well, they couldn’t help much but they did try and at least they were friendly.

Eventually, I decided to buy their home telephone service. I had no choice given their poor mobile signal. The setup wasn’t without issues but eventually got it in. Of course, the phone is connected to fibre, so if that goes down our internet, TV and phone will experience downtime.

2022-04-10T05:23:35+00:0010 April 2022|Customer Service|

Customer Service Update

Companies appear to be struggling still when it comes to providing good customer service, but some continue to be their own worst enemy.

New Issues


A US service where home maintenance people can list their business and members of the public can look them up to engage them. I cancelled my account with them on the same day I joined, many years ago.  This was due to receiving hundreds of emails just in the first hour of creating my account.  They bombarded my email account which took me ages to clean out and I was not amused.  I asked them never to contact me again.

Fast forward many years to January 2022. Out of the blue, I started to receive very spammy type emails from them.  I reached out to their customer service but they failed to respond. I posted something on their Twitter account asking for assistance but they blocked me. They clearly are an extremely dodgy company so I went ahead and reported their email accounts for phishing and blocked all their website IP addresses.

Looking through reviews online I notice my experience is similar to others.  Not good.


I heard on the grapevine, through social media, that Netflix was increasing its charges but hadn’t notified me of that.  I spoke to Netflix and they agreed that notifications to customers should go out at the same time as the media. They did promise I would receive an email 2-3 days before the increase is charged on my account.

They said I would see the increase on 6th February 2022. The increased charge was supposed to have been made on that day, it wasn’t, just the old price. When I called them they said the increased charge would be on 6th April 2022. So I get the feeling there is some miscommunication at the company.  It’s not a big issue but they shouldn’t confuse customers and should improve their communication.

Royal Mint

I got all my delivery and billing addresses into a bit of a pick on their system so I wrote to ask them how I can fix it.  I got a prompt polite response, they fixed the issues for me. I love it when dealing with a company or organization is this easy.



Last year I reported one of their representatives driving dangerously in our neighbourhood.  This hasn’t occurred again. However, when I reported the issue the telephone number they provide was no charge but when calling that number it redirected me to a regular number in the US so I ended up paying $13 for it, I didn’t find this out until I received my mobile bill.  I was shocked. That means they have no customer service in Canada and there is a hub in the US, also they lie about their free calling. I was so upset.

We ordered masks from Amazon, it wasn’t Amazon themselves but a 3rd party seller. I assumed Amazon would vet all their sellers, but they obviously don’t. The masks were falsely advertised and weren’t what we wanted. The company tried to fob us off with a 60% refund. 60% of the masks weren’t at fault, all of them were, totally dodgy and unimpressive. Eventually, we did 100% of the money returned.  We obviously won’t buy masks off Amazon again.


Last year there was a series of misdeliveries by FedEx, I’ve not heard any recent complaints from anybody that this has continued but usually the high season is during the Christmas period, so we shall wait until the end of the year.


SpamExperts continues to be a problem although it has slightly improved, but not by much. Now I have a new problem whereby the majority of my emails appear to be in a queue even though they have been delivered.  Not sure if I can be bothered to report it to them again. At least it appears I am getting my emails one way or the other.


Some back and forth with Telus regarding the poor signal on my mobile phone and that of our follow 400 neighbours. I am getting nowhere fast with them really.

I did manage to improve the signal a bit. On my iPhone I turned my Airplane mode on and off, then I re-registered WiFi calling.

I’m trying to avoid having to pay for a landline since I don’t really want to pay for another subscription.


Receiving letters and parcels from overseas continues to be an issue. It took one month for a regular letter to arrive from California via USPS and Canada Post. One small parcel took just over a week from the UK. We still haven’t received some Christmas Cards from California yet, and it’s already the 2nd week of February.

I would personally recommend not sending cheques through the mail but trying to get clients to pay via electronic services. For physical items there is no choice but to use the postal system but I would recommend buy local where possible.

First .ca Spam

I wrote about this here, I won’t mention the company yet but it has been like extracting blood from a stone to get information from them. Not very satisfactory.

2022-02-10T18:31:50+00:0010 February 2022|Customer Service|

Customer Service Review 2021

This is my annual review of customer services experiences over the past year, 2021. Again, companies are facing many difficulties with staffing and supply chain issues relating to the continuation of the pandemic. So, I am being patient as I can be with companies, however, many can be their own worst enemy. The key for these companies, I believe, is not to over-promise and conduct themselves on a “best endeavours” basis.


I pre-ordered items only to find out that there wasn’t enough to go around, so I received nothing. I wasn’t too bothered but I did have to scramble round to buy them elsewhere. One book I pre-ordered was cancelled, according to the publisher, however, Amazon still has it on their site and I’m still on the pre-order list.

Most of their drivers are absolutely miserable but I guess they are under pressure from the company to meet targets, I don’t think Amazon is too kind towards them.

I live in a neighbourhood with a lot of seniors many of whom have become injured as a result of people speeding. So, I witnessed an Amazon driver speeding and decided to report it to the company. The whole process of reporting was very painful, I don’t think this is in the staff’s ordinary daily workflow as it appeared they struggled in taking down the details. After the call I was left in doubt on whether they would take the issue seriously, reporting to them though would be better than having to deal with one of their drivers knocking over a senior.


I ordered books from Chapters and their level of service was very good using Canada Post to deliver. They can be more expensive than Amazon but being a smaller business I felt better using them.


I ordered an iPhone and FedEx delivered it to the wrong address. They left it on the wrong doorstep and did a runner, they were supposed to get the COVID equivalent of a signature for it but failed to do so. I heard from other neighbours who say FedEx is always delivering to incorrect addresses.

So, I tried to reach out to FedEx to find discuss how we can work together to ensure parcels are delivered correctly. Despite reminders, it took 3 months to be able to connect with a human being there, it was extremely frustrating. The manager I spoke to, based in Montreal, was helpful and promised to work with the local FedEx office to improve service levels.

Since I spoke to that manager FedEx has miss-delivered at least 3 times. One of their vans even drove over the green area of our fountains. Nothing changes. Having said that, other delivery companies behave in pretty much the same way.


This is the first year I have nothing to say about them, it’s usually stressful but didn’t have to contact them at all.

London Drugs

Two times I tried to order something from their website and on both occasions, their website failed. The first order suggested they had 6 in stock, I ordered it, but a member of staff called me saying they had none – obviously a major issue connecting their website with the real-time inventory at the store. The second-order looked as though it went through but was rejected within 15 minutes.

So, I wrote to London Drugs asking for feedback on why these didn’t go through, they never responded. So, I will not be ordering anything from London Drugs online again.

Having said that, I did like London Drugs but I will have to avoid their website.

Shaw to Telus

We moved our cable supplier from Shaw to Telus about a year ago, we’ve not had any issues with the actual service. We have had a couple of short downtime issues but that is something all companies cannot escape from.

We’ve had very poor or no signal to our Telus mobile phones since we moved here, it’s the same for Rogers, Bell and other companies. Telus recommended we get a tower, this was agreed to by our community, but then Telus changed their mind about it leaving us all in a pickle about our poor service. We connect our mobiles via WiFi but the signal is poor on Telus than it was on Shaw. Rogers might be interested in putting up the tower so we’ll see what happens.


This company is the best ever for hosting websites, never any issues, but the price reflects that good level of service.

However, 2021 was an extremely bad year for them in particular with email. They had a whole period of email downtime when, from what I could see, was a SpamExperts upgrade or reconfiguration. This tested their customer service skills and I found:

  • They attempted to keep the issue as quiet as possible saying nothing on their Twitter account.
  • Any updates on downtime were placed within the logged-in area of the site.  Keep having to log in to review updates was a nuisance. Other companies have a transparent status page.
  • The downtime updates weren’t detailed enough and they would vanish quickly so users couldn’t find out what the problem and resolution was.

After the issues were resolved I noticed there was a serious lag on emails appearing in SpamExperts, so I could review messages that have been quarantined in a timely manner. This went on for weeks and weeks, from what I gather SpamExperts wasn’t that responsive to the problems they had, so, Siteground couldn’t effectively communicate with customers without proper updates from them.

I just got so fed up with the ticket I had opened with Siteground with no updates I just told them they should close it and I would have to accept this to be the level of service now. Siteground didn’t want to close it so it remained open for another week or so, they then reached out to suggest it should be closed.  So, I’m not sure if they are actually working with SpamExperts in the background now, certainly, the issue is not resolved and most likely ever won’t be.

Other Issues

The post has been very sporadic. The year started with very poor service via USPS but I believe that was a politically orientated mess. Post between the UK and Canada has been very good or very bad; one parcel arrived in 5 days, another took 2 months.

Supermarkets are doing an amazing job during the pandemic but we are careful which ones we go in.  We noticed the more local the supermarket is the worse the customers are, mainly how irresponsible they are with wearing masks and social distancing. There were small pockets of supply chain issues in supermarkets but nothing that really affected us.


More customer services issues than previous years, most of it just reflects companies’ issues dealing with the pandemic, some where they could just minor adjustments to prevent complaints in the future.

2021-12-28T22:42:15+00:0028 December 2021|Customer Service|

Customer Service Update 2020

I had low expectations for good customer service due to the pandemic and impact it had on all companies. However, those companies that were good remained good and those that were bad became worse.  So, let’s go through the issues I had during 2020.

I hope never to have a customer service issue, I don’t like calling them, but if there is a problem I prefer to resolve it through their self-serve website. If I have to talk to a human there is a problem. If I have to go on social media that means I am seriously not happy.


A domain supplier and web host.

Probably the easiest company to deal with this year. Virtually 100% uptime of my website. When I had a query it took longer to answer than it normally did, about an hour or so, but that is certainly better than any other company I have dealt with.

There were some hiccups when they migrated from cPanel to their own Site Tools which took me a little while to resolve. See this post.

HSBC UK and Canada

I’ve had issues with HSBC before but on the Canadian side, I haven’t had any problems with this year. Since I can talk to someone directly it has certainly helped a lot.

On the UK side, it’s very unfortunate that they rarely respond to me and don’t have a point of contact in the same way I have in Canada. It’s quite unfortunate that I have to struggle when they could make life easier with one 5 minute telephone call once or twice a year.

HSBC generally has a bad reputation globally due to some actions they have taken over political circumstances so I’m just wondering what the future holds for them.


Shaw is an internet and Cable TV provider in Canada, we cancelled our service with them as they were so bad.

frustratedShaw has certainly declined over the past 3 years. This is what I have found:

  • Internet speeds jump around from what they are contracted to supply to me from 300Mbps down to 65Mbps. It’s unpredictable what it will be from one day to the next. When I called once they fixed it within 2 minutes. But, when I bring the issue up again they either ignore it or say something bizarre.
  • We’ve had ongoing issues with the breakup of picture and audio on numerous TV channels. They will either dis-believe me it’s happening stating there is no issue (when there is) or never fix it.
  • Their TV system is called BlueCurve which they contract out from Comcast/Xfinity. Within BlueCurve you have apps such as Netflix or YouTube. Via BlueCurve, Netflix is not displaying subtitles correctly, other Shaw users tell me this is affecting everyone plus also other cable companies that rent the same system from Comcast. The problem is, Shaw will not admit to me there is an issue at all, they have even lied about it. I just don’t understand why they can’t be honest and forthright with their customers. Bizarre.
  • Shaw Business have a web hosting option and through a client, I had the misfortune to have to use their system. I have never seen a clunky mess in all my life, probably the worst web host, and I’ve experienced some bad ones in my time. Their cPanel was a mess. Information wasn’t feeding into the cPanel correctly. PHPMyAdmin wasn’t installed. Didn’t display the domain. They had an outdated version of PHP. A simple customer service query took over 1 week to answer as they outsource the whole function to another company. I’m beginning to wonder what else Shaw outsources, maybe their project management of these companies are bad?
  • The final bill came after we cancelled, and they couldn’t even get that right.

So, the result of the above has been our move to Telus Internet and TV.  Telus installed fibre in our area and their Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal was too good to pass up. We shall see how that goes.


Domain and web host.

Three of my clients use the GoDaddy system, they are not as horrible as Shaw (see above) but they have issues I wish they would resolve.

  • Too much downtime on their system, often it doesn’t meet the uptime as their contract promises customers. This is something I am closely monitoring.
  • Their customer service:
    • Makes a promise and doesn’t deliver, doesn’t meet the expectations they set themselves
    • Provides contact for further queries but that person never responded to emails
  • Logging into their cPanel is very problematic, keeps logging me out whenever I try and do something.
  • FTP doesn’t work properly on all plans.


We have been with Telus Mobility, the mobile phone part of their company, for about 3 years now.

The good news is that I’ve never had to contact them about anything in 2020. Yay.

The installation of their TV and Internet service went well, see this post, the network seems more stable so far. The Telus guy who performed the installation did an excellent job, ensuring we had everything we needed. So, as I said, we’ll see how it goes.


Earlier in the year I had an altercation with a member of staff at Costco. They had implemented social distancing but couples of course could stick together. We were told off by an employee for not social distancing, straight couples weren’t being told off, only us, a same sex couple. This is the first discriminatory statement anyone has made to us in years and I was pretty angry by it. After a while the employee was made to apologize to us. I hope he learned a lesson.

Generally Costco staff are very good and jolly so I was taken aback by this incident. I did write to Costco about it to provide feedback in a constructive manner but they never replied, this told me a lot on how they handle cases of discrimination against their customers…ignore it basically.


I haven’t had any issues with Amazon this year, I try to avoid doing business with them anyhow, I don’t like their brand but unfortunately for some things, there are no competitors with the products I need.

One incident concerned me, a delivery arrived at about 9 pm and the member of staff had been out since 11 am without a break and nothing to eat. I find this quite troubling and another reason why I don’t like to give business to companies who treat their staff so poorly.


I engaged them to print off our annual Christmas newsletter. Unfortunately, they messed it up but I really couldn’t be bothered to ask them to fix it. I just won’t use their printing service again. The customer service person there is never happy no matter how cheerful I approach them. I have used UPS for printing before so I will go back with them in 2021, never had an unsatisfactory service from them.

We went into Staples a couple of other times, for non-print services, and they were ok.


There are other companies that I haven’t mentioned here, supermarkets have done particularly well during the pandemic, most staff have managed to cope despite members of the public’s bad behaviour towards them.

Good and bad spots like other years but as I said my expectations were much lower this year.

2020-12-28T23:15:41+00:0028 December 2020|Customer Service|

Review of Telus vs Shaw

Please read the updates below at the end of this article, thanks.

Telus is a supplier of mobile, internet, telephony and cable TV services here in Canada. After some issues with Shaw, we decided to move our internet and TV services to Telus.

Why Did We Cancel Shaw

I will cover this in a later post reviewing overall customer service experiences during 2020. We have been with Shaw for many years but noticed their service hasn’t been so good lately so we decided to go with Telus.

Everybody complains about the cable company they are with so it’s tough to get a full and honest review of them as different people have different experiences. Initially, we had a great experience with Shaw but in the past 3 years, it was becoming an overhead to retain their services.

Telus laid fibre optic cables in our area which everyone told me was very much a more stable infrastructure.

Why Didn’t We Move to Telus Earlier?

We could have moved to Telus about a year ago in the initial wave of locals moving to them.

The reason we didn’t was due to their hard sales approach, the company outsourced this sales function to another company who I felt was pressing us too much without the information I needed to know to warrant the move. So, we just left it until now.

The Move

I wanted to wait and see what their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales included, and we did find a very tempting bargain that, in the initial 2 years of the contract, would in fact be cheaper than Shaw. Obviously, the charge will go up in 2 years’ time but we can review what our requirements are in the meantime.

The offer was only good online but their website wasn’t cooperating in order to make the transaction happen. So, we started to get frustrated and for a short while almost didn’t take it any future. We phoned them up and said they would honour the deal online. When adding a service they go through another credit check. Because we are already a mobility customer we got a discount on top of the Black Friday deal.

The Installation

This went very well and the engineer that came to our home was quick and thorough in providing us with the training necessary.

We got two-wire connections, one for the TV and the other for my computer. For my computer, this provided me with a 990 Mbps download and upload speed. All I need do is turn my wifi on when I print and airdrop. I found the connection with Shaw was unpredictable, 300 Mbps would go down to 60 or 90 which was tough when trying to hold meetings online over Skype or Zoom. Since I’m not using the wifi bandwidth other devices would have a better connection. The Wifi speed is around 600 Mbps Upload and Download.

Rather than a desk modem, the Telus device sits in a closet where the wire comes into the home. This is so much more convenient than taking up room on my desk, so much better.

Post Installation

The only problem I experienced was not being able to send jobs to my printer through wifi, I have no idea why that happened but I managed to resolve it in a couple of days.

The internet is very stable, no mass fluctuations like Shaw. Still around 990+ Mbps on wire and 600+ Mbps via Wifi upload/download.

The TV quality is so much clearer and more stable than Shaw. Over Shaw we had quite a few visual and audio difficulties that were so annoying, haven’t seen this yet over Telus. We also have access to more channels including overseas news. No problems with Netflix as we had through Shaw.

What We Are Enjoying About Telus

Some quick bullet points detailing what I like about the service:

  • Stability
  • Speed of internet, both Upload and Download are virtually the same
  • Access to more TV channels that I want to see especially news
  • The system seems a little bit more advanced than anything we have been on before


I am happy with the switch over so far, no doubt there will be issues and I hope they address them more professionally than Shaw did.

Update April 2022

I’m updating this post with some events since I wrote it.

The Home part of Telus continues to be stable, that is the internet and cable television. We haven’t experienced much downtime over their fibre option. There were some issues with BBC World News stalling now and again, but it was minimal.

The Mobility, mobile phone, service of Telus wasn’t so good. The signal in this area is chronically bad. This has been particularly dangerous to emergency services that are reliant on these services. Telus is not the only provider that has these issues in this area.  We live in an area that is pretty central with many people living in it. Telus was supposed to put in a tower but for some reason, they have not taken this forward.  Whenever I reported issues of bad signal Telus Mobility pretty much ignored me, and I did report it a number of times. I eventually managed to speak with someone at Telus, which was pretty stressful to do after being pushed from one person to the next, the result of this came to nought but they did come up with a couple of suggestions.

So, as a result of poor mobile signal, I had to get a Telus home phone service. Of course, I am sure Telus were very happy I’m giving them more money but I do feel quite upset over the issue.

Update December 2022

Another short update since I wrote the initial blog entry.

For the home phone, mentioned above, I was actually expecting a copper wire-connected telephone service so that if the internet went down we would still have a phone to use. However, they connected a VOIP service. The person they sent to install it must have been new and didn’t really know what he was doing, poor thing, he had to keep calling back to his office.

On one channel we kept losing a signal, so I reached out to Telus and got connected to a customer service agent who I was getting nowhere with, wanting to send me down a path to change all my channels. After 45 minutes in live chat, I finally got to someone who made sense but was not sure if the issue was really addressed. Posting on the Telus Forum I notice others have been experiencing this issue, same on Rogers and Shaw, so maybe it was the feed from the US.

On a year-end positive note, it was easy to renew our fixed-term contract with Telus. If this hadn’t happened it would have increased our bill by $100, if that happened I would have downsized our service considerably.

Update 16 January 2023

The worst-case scenario came about today.  On 16th December 2022 Telus promised to, kindly, put us back on the 2-year plan we were on before. However, receiving their bill today, this wasn’t the case. So did they lie to us or is this another Telus administrative blunder? The Home Phone service went up by 253.846% and we were supposed to be on the same fixed price until March 2024.  The Internet went up by just over 100% and looks as though they didn’t apply the bundle they promised.

So, what now. I really don’t feel like calling them again and to be honest I have been looking at what Shaw has to offer. I took auto-payments off as I really don’t want any funds to go through to Telus until this is resolved if it ever is.

Update 18 January 2023

The issue with the contract has, thankfully, been resolved.

On the 17th I got onto social media, and they created a ticket to the relevant department. On the 18th, a lovely rep got back to us and apologised, and was able to fix the issue pretty easily. So, it all worked out very well.

2023-01-18T21:35:57+00:0017 December 2020|Customer Service|

Microsoft Customer Service Experience

MS OutlookIn previous jobs, I needed to have more contact with Microsoft than I do now and it was an extremely painful process, but we are talking quite some time ago. Have they improved? Well, based on the experience I had today, they haven’t much.

What Happened

I updated Office for Mac from 16.41 to 16.42. When opening Outlook a prompt appeared to switch to the “New Outlook”, I thought cool, that sounds great until then it told me none of my POP3 accounts would be compatible. What? POP3 accounts not compatible in an email program? Is Microsoft out of their minds?

So, I hit cancel and tried to search for information on their website.  I searched, and searched, and searched. Nothing could be found.  Eventually, I decided to contact Live Chat.

Live Chat Experience

Firstly, Live Chat is not compatible with Firefox so I had to switch to Chrome. It’s most likely Firefox’s security protocols.

I asked the question of the technician and had not heard of the issue, they wanted to troubleshoot my computer. So, they did remote access despite my better judgement. Finally, towards the end, they told me POP3 wasn’t supported in “New Outlook” as yet.


Starting the chat was painful, that almost took 10 minutes in itself. My query was picked up within 2 minutes but had to go through the account verification process.

The technician didn’t seem to know that POP3 wasn’t supported in the initial 25 minutes of the chat and had to waste my time fiddling with my computer and going back/forth with non-sense. It was a painful process but got the answer eventually which really could have been answered within 2 minutes.

I tweeted my experience and pleased that the product manager from the Outlook for Mac team picked that up, so at least I know my feedback went to the right person. Sometimes social media does work out better than contacting support.

2020-10-13T23:14:40+00:0013 October 2020|Customer Service|