UK: AOL call centre in chaos after number change fiasco : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday 15th August 2001 3:00pm AOL call centre in chaos after number change fiasco Call centre meltdown as customers flock to complain...

AOL's Irish call centre was thrown into chaos today after the internet giant pulled the plug on five free-phone numbers its flat-rate customers used to access the web.

According to one AOL call centre operative, the ISP has changed five 0800 numbers from BT free-phone numbers to AOL free-phone numbers over the last two days.

The AOL insider claimed that with the new numbers the provider could monitor and maintain the numbers itself rather than rely on BT. The last three of the five numbers were cancelled last night. Customers using the old access numbers this morning were met with an 'unable to make a connection' or 'number is busy' alert as they tried to log on. Consequently, the technical support free help line has been inundated by calls as more and more of AOL's flat-rate customers - who pay a monthly fee for unlimited access - tried, and failed, to log on.

Calling at 11:00 (BST), one customer was told by an technical support operative that he had already taken over 200 calls on the problem that morning, and added that there are 60 more calls in the queue.

By midday the waiting time had increased from 10 to 15 minutes to 20 to 30 minutes, according to operatives.

One customer who found he was still unable to access AOL using the new numbers was told by a frustrated technical support representative to try and remove AOL software from his machine and re-install it.

However, an AOL spokeswoman said the company had taken measures to warn customers of the upcoming changes.

She could not explain why AOL had changed from one 0800 operator to another or had chosen to change all five lines at the same time.

She also claimed that she had received no reports of any extraordinary levels of call centre activity.

AOL has one million UK subscribers. It would not reveal how many of these were on flat-rate plans. Nor would it reveal how many 0800 access numbers it ran beyond the five it had changed over the last two days or how many flat-rate customers there were likely to be on one particular free-phone number.

A spokesman at AOL admitted that the ISP had experienced a configuration error on one of its access numbers, blaming the network operator, but the ISP refused to name the offending service provider

"Less than 2 per cent of our subscribers have ever used that number," he claimed.

AOL has contacted all of its 1m customers over the last few months instructing them to change to the optimum number and Peacock claimed that 100s of thousands have changed successfully.

He suggested that any problem customers were having with other numbers was probably due to issues in their telephony exchange.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 15, 2001

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