My Experience of Relocating During the Pandemic
House moving is stressful at the best of times, but try moving during a pandemic, and you will discover it is trebly challenging.
Throughout my recent move, wholly unnecessary problems were caused by larger organisations despite my meticulous planning.
Here is my (hopefully constructive) rant…
The Misery of Online Customer Service & Why Businesses Need To Wake Up
About seven weeks before completion, I contacted the organisations involved in the physical move. Most did pretty well in the circumstances, apart from the conveyancer (more on that in a moment).
But signing off from the services (council, utilities, internet, etc.) from my last home, and signing up to the new services at my temporary home on Anglesey (I am renting for a year while I look for my ideal property) – total nightmare!
The pain, anguish, and mental strain of trying to get these companies to do what they promise was phenomenal.
Is anyone there? I need to talk to a human!
Firstly, conveyancers now tend to deal with customers solely online. You are lucky if you get to speak with them, apart from when they want something from you (most often money).
My particular firm has a digital portal, which, unfortunately, caters to their business rather than their clients. It was inflexible, uninformative, and, among other errors, continually claimed I had not completed forms when I had. I gave up in the end and liaised by email.
Then there was my internet provider. Weeks before the move, I began discussions with them. Unable to provide broadband at the new property, we agreed (as they confirmed) on a mail-only account from the day of completion. What happened on the big day? They cut it off instead!
Busy with the move, I was unaware of this for five days. So, any emails sent to me during this time vanished forever into the ether.
It took two weeks, and hours on the phone listening to Christmas holding-music – on one occasion being passed around seven departments and being hung up on more than once, so I had to start the holding process all over again – to get this rectified.
I could have wept with the frustration of it all (and if I hear Paul McCartney, Wizard or Slade again in my lifetime, it will be too soon).
My appalling experience with utility companies
The utility companies were just as awful.
With my purchasers preparing for completion and registering themselves as the bill payers, I found the online portals I had been using closed down stating that I had already moved.
And what really got my goat is that they seemed perfectly happy to do things to my account without my consent or checking with me. They did not know who my purchasers were, so why on earth would they take instructions from them rather than me, the customer who had been paying their bills for 16 years?
More phone calls, more holding-music, more being cut off while I was either being transferred or speaking to someone.
And at the other end, I was completing forms to register for services and utilities. Upon submission, replies stated: We will respond in 15 working days.
And have they? Of course not.
I am slowly getting in touch with each one to nudge my submissions forward by phone. More hours of holding-music. Ironic, considering I am trying to register to pay them money.
Important message to businesses everywhere
Not one of these large companies seems to consider how their incompetence and ineptitude affects their customers. They seem oblivious to the fact that they and other companies are not getting things right, and that their actions (or inactions) are compounding the stress piled onto peoples’ shoulders.
Honestly, if you add up all the hours I have sat on the phone waiting to resolve problems during the move, it amounts to almost ten full days in total! (I know – I worked it out while holding once.)
The underlying message: these businesses consider my time to be less important than theirs.
Online portals and communication may be the new way of doing things, but most are too rigid and inflexible to cope with unusual circumstances. And trying to find phone numbers to speak to an actual human being is amazingly complex – they really do not like talking to customers.
Online chat is better, but only if the advisor can speak and explain things in fluent English, which I found is often not the case.
All this to say, I have little sympathy with the trotted out excuse of: “Well, it’s down to COVID.”
My message to these businesses: you have had almost a year of the pandemic to develop and implement systems that do more than firefight. It seems to me that you have tried to maintain the status quo rather than innovate, and soon, these systems will snarl up completely.
My happy new beginning...
Thankfully, most of my problems are now ironed out, with only a few wrinkles.
The exception is my internet access. This issue is in the hands of BT, who have different departments trying to work together without actually talking to each other, and so, of course, it has gone pear-shaped. But I am on to it and have literally just emailed the CEO of BT pointing out that customers should not get caught piggy-in-the-middle – we will see what occurs.
The upshot is I am in and settled in my new abode, and my stress levels have abated.
And I am finding a new calmness, which comes from moving to a home with stunning views over an estuary and being able to look out over the mountains of Snowdonia with their snow-capped summits.
Let me know your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comments below!
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Alternatively, contact me and let’s connect (I promise to be calm)!