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I (infrequently) blog about data science, business intelligence, big data, web technologies and free software.

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Germany is far behind other EU countries in telecommunications. As an example, many DSL providers impose Bandwidth throttling and 4G coverage is sometimes pretty poor. However, the Spanish telecom giant Telefónica strives to offer a service even worse than the one provided by its competitors.

Today I changed my DSL provider to Telekom and I felt real happiness. Two years ago, when I started dealing with Telefónica Germany (O2 DSL and BlauMobilfunk), a O2 ex-employee told me “O2 is such a terrible company that every person working there makes fun of how bad they are”. He was totally right, my experience with them became a nightmare and now I only regret that I didn’t change to Telekom earlier. If you want to know how you can provide the worst customer experience possible, keep reading.

1.- Don’t communicate with your customers

I have never received any email or text message from O2 although I gave them my contact details to do so. I never received a call. They even stopped the service, because they were not able to collect payments from my account (see the next point), without any notice!

2.- Don’t bother to collect payments from your customers

I sent 3 times all the necessary documentation to O2 to be able to collect payments from my bank account. I even sent always the documentation from one of their official shops. But apparently their incompetence didn’t allow them to process it correctly, so I gave up after 3 tries and set up a standing order to transfer them the money monthly.

3.- Don’t accept credit card payments

Once you have made sure that you don’t collect payments from your customers, also make paying the invoice as difficult as possible for them. As a part of that, don’t take any credit card payment in your shops if it’s to collect payments of invoices. O2/Telefónica has all the infrastructure in the shops to process credit card payments (to sell prepaid SIM cards or mobile phones), but using it also for the invoices would be too smart.

4.- Don’t process data correctly

If your customer sends you information, make sure that you make typos when introducing it in your system. Every single time. On top of that, make sure that your customers are not able to fix your fuck-ups. For instance, my family name is still “Lopez Pinc” instead of “Lopez Pino” for O2. I was never able to change my personal information online or talking with some of their customer service representatives.

5.- Avoid that customers get in touch with you

Live chat is convenient for customers and cuts down expenses for the company. The main disadvantage is that implementing a new communication channel has a big cost for a relatively big company. O2 went through that and started offering a live chat for customers to communicate with customer agents. But that would go again the company’s policy of providing the worst customer service possible, so they got rid of this service for DSL Customers and, after a while, only mobile network customers were able to use it. Brilliant!

6.- Make the set-up as difficult and confusing as possible

O2 router are definitely one of worst pieces of technology that I have ever seen. In particular, the configuration menu is totally unclear and buggy. What are competitors doing meanwhile? Well, they offer routers that you just need to plug in and work out of the box.

Fortunately, there is a big community of users who help each other. O2 decided to include a “login wall” and as a result Google is now de-indexing some of the pages.

7.- Ignore your customers when they have a problem

From one day to the next, my Internet connection just stopped working and it was impossible to get any help from O2. That was of course the last straw the broke the camel’s back. Calling Customer Service was totally useless.

In one case, they just wait until the problem was solved to get in touch with me. This is a message that I received from O2 a few daays after reporting a problem:

Hi, sorry for my late reply. As I see, your connection ist [sic] ok again. ^JM

8.- Don’t tell your customers what you are charging them for

Some telecommunication providers try to help users understand what they are spending their money on, with resources like pie charts, a list of the most contacted numbers, line graphs to track changes over short and long periods, etc.

Blau doesn’t offer any of those options and if there’s something that is not included in my mobile plan, they will just include it in the invoice under “Connections”. Extremely useful…