Vaneisa: Customer service woes—and the beat goes on…

EPL Infrafred Sauna

After last week’s complaint about the unreasonable wait at FCB, I received two phone calls from different managers, apologising and telling me about the plans in motion to address long waits and accounts falling asleep in absurdly short times.

If the plans are to ­materialise as expected, it should go some way towards improving the current systems. But as we know, that is just one part of it.

Image: A satirical take on customer service.

I keep saying that people are willing to make allowances for glitches and hiccups—what really turns them off is being treated with indifference, as if they don’t matter.

As with the CEO of the credit union, we discussed the generally poor attitude of staff to customers. How do we recalibrate a culture that has traipsed into the realm of incivility and no longer has any qualms about roughing up people with no provocation?

It’s a two-way street, I think. Customers bear the brunt of discourteous behaviour, but it seems to me that employees are also in an environment that leaves them feeling invisible and unappreciated by management at the highest levels.

Let them eat cake…

I strike up conversations with strangers all the time. It is part of my fascination with understanding humankind. I ask questions and I try to figure out what is at the heart of their hurt.

It is not just the people who have presented themselves to be served, it is also the people who are charged with the task of providing that service. They come to work carrying the same kinds of burdens and anxieties as their customers and they often feel like cogs in a thankless wheel.

A gesture of appreciation or concern might go a long way.

Maybe your CEO should visit the bank’s branches regularly and talk to staff about their issues, I suggested.

I do not enjoy writing about these unpleasant interactions with our institutions, but from the volume of responses I get, I am convinced that I am using my column space productively as I try to share the woeful experiences that come my way. It is done in the hope that things can improve.

Poor customer service is not only rampant in the public sector.

On that note, I want to go back to a column of 15 April that described my experience with trying to close my account with TSTT through their bmobile service.

To recap briefly, in August 2022, more than a year ago, I requested that TSTT cancel my ­landline. In November, the phone was finally disconnected, but bills kept coming.

I tried repeatedly to have this sorted out, with no success. That’s when I wrote the column. Two days later, I got a phone call with an apology, and a promise that the bills would stop coming and I would be refunded for the payments made after the disconnection request was logged.

Help please.

I was sent a PDF form to fill out giving banking details so that the money could be refunded. I did so, and received an acknowledgement the same day, saying it had been forwarded to the accounts department.

That same day, too, I received an e-mail from the public relations and consumer affairs manager at the ­Telecommunications Authority (TATT), noting my column and advising that I could pursue it if there was no redress from TSTT.

“One of the responsibilities of TATT is to protect consumers of services offered by providers of telecommunications and broadcasting services in Trinidad and Tobago. Consumers who remain dissatisfied with the ­outcome of complaints lodged with any of these providers may complain to TATT,” she wrote.

This won’t do…

I had responded after a month, saying I was hoping to get some closure from TSTT before pursuing it any further. But I was pleasantly surprised by TATT’s intervention.

Seven months later, I am still getting bmobile bills, now in a minus figure, and not a whiff of a refund. It has been more than year since I asked for my line to be disconnected.

Given the ongoing mess with the hacking of TSTT data, and the typical passing of the buck of blame, I am now wondering if my personal details—as piffling as they may be—are jumping up in the parade of people’s confidential information.

If that is so, then who is responsible for that? Perhaps TATT could advise the public.

The lighter side of data surveillance.

While I am at it, I had made a note that I wanted to say something about a supermarket in Mt Hope that boasts about the fresh produce and low prices at all its branches.

For some time, I have done some of my grocery shopping there, and so I have been able to see a pattern. More than once, I have felt physically unwell while shopping because the air conditioning is not working. Cashiers are visibly sweating. It’s not me alone.

Each time I go in, I ask if the air conditioning has been fixed, if the management has been notified. Staff members say it has been reported, but nothing has been done.


Produce in there looks so bedraggled that I won’t buy it. Dairy products and other things in the chillers are not being kept at the optimal temperature.

Often, the Linx machines are not working. All of these are ongoing issues and it seems complaints by staff and customers are ­being ignored.

This is not a parlour; it is part of a chain. Perhaps a visit from the public health department might encourage them to sort out these things.

We ­deserve better.

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About Vaneisa Baksh

Vaneisa Baksh is a columnist with the Trinidad Express, an editor and a cricket historian. She is the author of a biography of Sir Frank Worrell.

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