Whether to Laugh or Cry about Telus

Photo by Amaris Daniel at the old Bold Point Bridge on Quadra Island during a long power outage last Christmas.  Pictured are our son David Haines, Lucretia, our daughter Susan Daniel, and me.

I know I’m supposed to be writing about creativity here, but that’s not what you’re going to get this time.  This time you get a story about customer service at Telus.  There’s nothing creative about it.  In fact, it’s anti-creative, and I haven’t known whether to laugh or cry.  On the other hand, some of the front-line people at Telus are excellent.

I guess you must know by now that last week’s storm was a real doozie.  It knocked out power lines all over the coast, washed out roads and bridges, flooded communities, and generally caused a lot of trouble.  Here on Quadra Island, our power went out Thursday morning when a group of trees fell across the lines, and the phone went out a few hours later.   B.C. Hydro had the power back on a couple of days later, but the phone came back on only Monday afternoon, after about four days.  It has been on and off since then.

It’s a hassle not to have phone service, and for people with emergencies it could be dangerous.  But that’s not my problem with Telus.  I understand storm damage.  I understand the impossibility of restoring service to everywhere on the coast at once.  I understand and accept the need to make priorities.  I have no doubt that the field representatives of both companies worked hard to make the repairs, and that they got things going again just as quickly as they could.  That part is easy to understand.  It comes with the territory of living in remote areas this time of year, and I fully accept it.

But I don’t understand why it is so difficult to communicate with Telus about telephone service and its restoration.  Nor do I accept it, and that’s why I want to tell you this story.

In the front of the telephone book is a list of numbers to call to conduct various kinds of business with Telus: ‘611’ is the number for problems with residential phone service.  That’s great for many kinds of problems.  But any fool knows that dialing ‘611’ is not a good way to report a dead phone line, or to find out when it will be working again!

So we tried the web.  B.C. Hydro has a useful web site for this kind of thing, and so do many other companies.  But until we got help from a ‘611’ operator long after service was restored, we failed to discover any way to communicate about problems with Telus phone service over the web.  Finding things to buy from Telus is easy, and they offer many ways to buy them.  There are web pages to buy telephones, web pages to buy telephone service packages, web pages to buy wireless services, and web pages to buy online services.  Google searches reveal multiple ways to learn about some of those opportunities. Cyberspace is full of ways to spend money with Telus.

Interestingly, Telus does provide clearly-marked web-based support for its broadband and wireless services.  But we failed to find any email address or website that would allow us to communicate with Telus about the problem with the lines, or even to see whether Telus already knew about it.  The wealth of other Telus web material demonstrates that the company is web-savvy.  Telus knows how to use the web to suit its purposes, which are biased strongly toward selling stuff.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears to me that it doesn’t suit Telus’ purposes to discuss interruptions of service with its customers, who are a captive audience.  I think I remember a great kerfuffle in the media a few years ago about poor Telus service, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

More in Methods of Creation

How to make a lifelong career as an artist

Sculptor Michael Binkley looks back at three decades of professional stone sculpting, reflecting on how he was able to succeed in the business of making and selling art.

Something I Admire about Surgeons

Something I admire about surgeons, dentists, deep sea divers and astronauts is their ability to perform sensitive, technically demanding work wearing gloves.  Working with gloves is a serious...

To Build a Fire

Sculptor Lee Gass reflects on Jack London's short story To Build a Fire and some childhood mistakes in the mountains in relation to his daily ritual of building a fire in his stove on Quadra Island.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.