I don’t usually comment on my own experiences, but I feel compelled to do so today. Along with being a telecom industry analyst and consultant, I’m also an obvious consumer of telecom services. Over the past few days, I’ve had the most aggravating experiences in trying to establish new telecom service (we’re in the process of moving our offices), that it really makes me wonder about the true impact of competition on the marketplace. What I mean by that is, my experience in trying to buy services from both an incumbent telecom carrier and a national wireless company have been so frustrating and aggravating, it makes me wonder if competition and its impact really exists.
It seems to me that these service providers would have systems in place that allow me to easily spend money with them, rather than with their competitors. But what I found was a bureaucratic mess that put me in an endless loop of phone transfers to customer service reps who were either indifferent, incompetent, unable, or unwilling to accept my monthly check for their services. I find it absolutely amazing that I have spoken to seven representatives (not an exaggeration) from the incumbent telephone company to try to order business DSL service, and I still haven’t been able to get an order placed. This experience is either great news for their competitors or bad news for competition proponents. The great news angle is that if you can create a system that simply allows people to start spending money with you without having to jump through endless loops, you should be in business. The bad news is maybe incumbents have squashed competitors to the point that they can live with these incredible inefficiencies and care less about them. As for me, lesson learned. The next call is to the cable company, who is aggressively pursuing the small business market. Any bets on the number of reps I’ll have to talk to there, before giving them the opportunity to collect money from me every month?