What are your staff doing online?

Posted on 11 September 2008 in Internet, Money (5 comments)

I suspect there's more than a few blogs who have had a "breakout" blog post - the one which seems rather minor at the time, but seems to build and take on a life of its own.

For me, and slightly depressingly, it's often posts which consist of me ranting, moaning and generally letting off steam, rather than my hard thought about and well crafted missives on software development, or travel. Nah, ranting all the way then...

My posts about Freeserve's awful webmail were still generating emails and traffic way after the company was rebranded to Wanadoo in 2004. In fact I was still getting emails in the summer of 2007, by which point the company had been rebranded to Orange.

But the real breakout post was back to the ranting - a post which was really just me getting off my chest some frankly awful service by GE Money.

Little did I realise when I wrote it that, a year on, it would be one of the most visited blog posts and would have the most comments. And indeed, that if you searched for GE Money, it would be the fifth link in Google (the first three being GE's own sites, and the fourth a Reuters news story). Surprisingly most well known consumer review sites are completely missing from the search results.

The comments which have come in obviously show the negative feelings many people have towards the company - and the rather vicious attacks that have also come in towards people who have had trouble. As far as I'm concerned, the problems I had with GE Money were clearly them making a mistake and then not rectifying it without me having to do a serious fight, yet according to one commenter

you people may want to learn how a credit card works and read your t's & c's of your credit contract.

Whilst another person retorted:

you noticed the mistake - you called in and you had your fees waived - quit moaning!

To which I had to reply along the lines of that I only got my fees waived by ultimately being a complete b-stard to someone in call centre.

Other interesting comments came from several happy customers (one of whom had a GE email address - which I thought was an interesting move), some disgruntled people who have to flog store cards which are run by GE Money and a couple of GE Money staff - the range in replies from them come from general invitation to

think about dealing with abusive, rude, customers all day long who dont understand what they have signed for on credit agreemtns and having to repeat yourself over and over and over and over again. Its not interesting work at the end of the day.

which was a sharp contrast to this response from someone else claiming to be from GE:

GROW UP AND TAKE SOME RESPONCIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN CREDIT AND STOP EXPECTING PEOPLE TO DO EVERY LITTLE THING FOR YOU!!

The same person proclaimed that all the commenters came "under the PIG IGNORANT group of customers".

Which perhaps just reminds us that sometimes it's not just the customers who need to vent their spleens.

That said, such responses are perhaps not what GE Money's management would like to see their staff coming out with. Or maybe they would. Who can tell.

GE Money employees are of course likely to defend the company they work for - it's natural. Happy employees anyway. But with any employee "defending" the company they work for, there's the potential for doing more harm than good to company itself. And if I was a senior manager in GE Money and those were the responses coming out in the company name, I'd be very worried indeed.

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Kirk said:

Do they really work for GE though? Surely they work for Crapita or someone?

Posted on 12 September 2008 at 7:05 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

Dunno. They're a big enough company that they could easily run their own call centre but you never really know. Either way, if it is outsourced, it's more than likely that they're only working on GE businesses.

Posted on 12 September 2008 at 9:24 AM

Anonymous said:

Hello people, I currently work for GE Money (soon to be santander) in the collections department.
I'm not commenting on this blog to lambast consumers or our customers at all, I purely wanted to put accross my point of view as a representative of our company from my personal experiences.

Basicly, as a Front Line Advisor (call centre terminolgy for a low level very low paid advisor) I deal with the side of the business that consists of customers calling in to query numerous isssues, for instance, "I didn't recieve last statement", "I made my payment on time so why have I been charged, "I thought I had a Direct Debit set up", I thought it was a loyalty card", " I paid for the goods in store on the day with my debit card".

I think you get the idea. In my experience 8/10 of these problems are down to the customer not understanding what they are signing up for, I quote from thousands of customers is speak to, "Yeah but who actually reads those credit agreements anyway?" Well to answer that I would have to say "Well actually sir/madame, I do."
What customers fail to realise is that General Electric is a multi-national with tens of millions of customers worldwide, the UK cards business has over 6 million customers alone as of june 2008 and these cards we finance and provide are not sold by GE, therefore it is difficult to control the manner in which our products are sold in the stores which promote our cards. I Would like to point out that 99% of the store staff are selling these cards on a commission basis. The incentives to sell these cards far outweigh the consequences of giving the prospective customer mis-information. As in the end the so called "flak" ends up on GE as the number the customer is given to call is, quite rightly, the operator of their credit agreement. In these situations the company actually has a policy which would see us remove any late fee's and/or interest that has been applied to an account as a result of the confusion created by MIS-SELLING our product.

As you can probably imagine GE Money has contracts in place with these orginisations (Arcadia group, House of Fraser etc....) Which means it is difficult for us to enforce the way in which our credit is sold to consumers within the UK, I would say probably 60% of the calls I recieve from our customers are related to mis-information or mis-selling of our products in store. I for one would love to see tighter regulation and BETTER TRAINING for store staff on the selling of what are in essence PRIVATE LABEL CREDIT CARDS (plcc), sometimes sold to customers as LOYALTY CARDS or DISCOUNT CARDS.

Now please dont misinterprate what I'm saying as a bash at store staff around the country because they are just doing what they're told to do, as are the majority of Contact Centre staff employed by GE. In my opinion there needs to be a clear distinction between the RETAILER i.e House of Fraserm Monsoon, River Island, and the creditor i.e, GE MONEY UK. Customers should be informed at the point of sale that the shop or retailer is purely providing the goods the finance for which comes from the consumer fincance company, in this case, GE MONEY UK.

This is only one area which complaints originate from, obviously in some case GE has made a mistake. The staff you speak to are human, they have there own lives to worry about and to be honest have probably an alot lower income than yourself (hence the fact you have a £5000 credit limit on an asda mastercard), and PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES, nobody iin my experience disputes this fact.
In the event of GE making a mistake the policy is to refudn the customer but this has limits. If you pretend you were the CEO of a conglromerate like GE which is a business set up to make money and you have customers calling to say they did this and that and we have made a mistake month upon month you must understand we have procedures to determine whether your query is genuine or whether you frankly, are making it up to avoid paying a bit extra, and an advisor with a bit of common sense will be able to tell there and then whether you are telling a tall tale or whether you have genuinely been penalised unfairly.

Nine times out of ten if you really have made payment if it has been mislaid or something has been done wrong you will not have to pay anything extra.
(Missing a payment because you did not get last months statement when you have had the account for over ten years IS NOT a valid reason for missing your payments, I'm sorry but I'm in my late teens and I KNOW how much I owe and when it needs to be paid each month.)

I find it quite offensive actually for people to label all GE Staff as incompetent and arrogant because they have had a bad experience, The Majority of customers I deal with are calm and friendly and usually they get what they want, the majority of complaints that get taken further are because the customer is not happy with what they are being told, which is understandable as it is human nature to be upset when they do not get their own way :)

But to undermine the point I have just made i do realise that some do slip through the net and some staff are just genuinely idiotic, but I'm sure any right minded person will realise this is just a face of life in the working world, these people are looked apon with just as much distain as customers have within the business, they give the rest of the hard working, helpful staff a bad name and make our jobs harder for us. Please dont get me started on the Indian fellows on customer service, these guys are basicly there to say "yes" and "No" but if the going gets a bit too tough they transfer the call through to the UK.
I can't count the amount of times I have heard the sentence "Well thank god i'm through to someone english." Although those guys in india are very highly trained its not their fault they cannot deal with certain queries.

Really to summarise what I'm trying to say is, Yes, GE does employ some Duck Eggs, And mistakes are made, in which case, i apologise, but overall we are here to help and resolve genuine queries, If you can't be arsed to pay your bill....dont waste your time and money calling because a £12.00 late fee on your account will be probably more on your phonebill! Bit of handy advise from a good intentioned GE Money UK employee,

P.S if you want my extension number as you havent recieved a statement, email me.

Only joking of course that would breach DPA! :)

Posted on 24 December 2008 at 3:53 AM

Fifi said:

GE only employ rude people to work in there call centres. In my opinion they are rude as lets face it they are not educated enough to get a REAL Job. And please dont make fun of the overseas call centres i find them polite. Its the Australians at GE that are rude They get paid so little. And i am australian not foreign.

Posted on 2 October 2009 at 2:24 AM

Pat said:

I've just put my comments on the other website but having just been made bankrupt by being "mistaken" over GE's ambiguous contract, you can imagine how "happy" I am. I'm 74, never defaulted in my life, my mortgage account is in credit, and I've now lost my whole working life, which ceased with the bankruptcy. For the first time in my life I've now got to apply for benefits - ie the taxpayer. Why should they have to keep me because GE can't write contracts that are able to be understood? - mine seemed quite clear to me, but it meant something different to them. Makes me wonder if ambiguity is deliberate. Am considering further Court action. Anybody want to join in?

Posted on 16 March 2010 at 11:17 AM

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