A Qwest for quality

Qwest Communications — which merged with USWest in June — has been receiving numerous customer complaints recently regarding its poor service. Although USWest has been known for less than satisfactory, even rude, customer service, the combined communication company’s poor performance comes as little surprise considering 16 percent of USWest’s staff was laid off by the merger.
Most of the complaints stem from the company’s customer help and repair lines. When customers have problems, either with their phones or their bills, they often have a difficult time maneuvering through the usual barrage of recorded messages before finally being sent to a live human voice. Then, according to a second complaint, after the considerably long wait, the Qwest representative treats them poorly. Called rude, unhelpful and ignorant of pricing and specials, Qwest customer service representatives sometimes offer callers differing information about the same question.
Also plagued by billing problems, Qwest experienced a computer error in August that mangled the long distance plans of 147,000 customers. The problem has proven to be difficult to rectify.
Aside from poor customer service, Qwest is developing a reputation for poorly handling repair requests. Besides dealing with a generally long wait, some customers complain of inadequate repair jobs, which has been particularly troublesome with requests to have DSL, a high speed Internet service, installed. Load coils are one of the primary reasons DSL installations have been difficult. By being placed inside phone lines to filter out extra noise and improve the voice resolution, the load coils also block out high frequency signals – where DSL activity occurs. Many customers have had significant problems in getting Qwest to remove load coils, which is too bad because it’s a problem that usually affects the whole neighborhood.
Although Qwest acknowledges that its service’s response rates have been poor, the communications company considers many of the claims against Qwest exaggerated and untrue. In an effort to improve service, the company plans on adding about 150 technicians to Minnesota alone.
Unfortunately, whether the Quest learns from its mistakes or not probably will not damage the company a great deal, as it runs a virtual monopoly on many communication services in the Twin Cities.