Contacting a Support Hotline by Jamie Danjoux

I hope you all had a lovely Easter and enjoying the hot weather!

Many businesses such as Internet Providers, to TV providers to banks they all have a support hotline for their customers to ring if they encountered any issues.

A few days ago I had a problem with my internet, which is with Plusnet. I looked all over their website for a live chat facility, I did find one in the end. The chap on the chat said,

“Due to our safety checks and policies, we can only handle issues and account changes over the telephone.”

I can understand from their point of view of trying to be safe, but what’s the point in a chat facility if it’s extremely limited?

Many organisations where they have customers offer a live chat facility in order to make it more easier for customers to contact them. Another issue is extremely long wait times to get to an advisor on big companies like BT and Sky.  BT and Sky live chat don’t require customers to ring up in issues that can be solved easily, but do if it requires further action.  Many people also prefer live chat as it means you don’t have to listen to accents you may hear in a foreign call centre – which may be difficult for some – if not, a lot.Live-Chat-Image

BT (and I think Sky as well) have also introduced a sign relay service which means BSL users can contact the organisation through sign language this is done through a webcam and an interpreter watching you and they then relay onto the advisor who they talk to. BT customers can click here for more information.  I wonder how many have actually used the service and if it has been successful with getting information transferred back and forth without any issues.


Speaking on the telephone can be frustrating, especially if it’s an offshore contact centre as they may have a accent that’s hard to understand.  We may not hear or understand on the phone or they may not understand us. I’ve personally had good and bad experience with offshore call centres, but because most of them read of a script, they may not be able to take into the equation that you are deaf.  Remember these countries are often Less Economically Developed Country and may not have full deaf awareness.


I wonder if a lot of deaf/HoH users ring up themselves if they can’t use a live chat facility.  I sometimes do and it can be a struggle, I sometimes rely on my mum to speak on my behalf.  Do you use relatives to speak on your behalf?

Also trending is the use of social media platforms to contact big companies, almost every company I can think of (except small ones) use Twitter.  I tweet a few times to companies about issues and they can be helpful, or just direct you to the hotline. Now that’s what Twitter can be useful for!

You may know the usual, “Your call is being recorded for training purposes” but are they? Because every time you ring up, nothing much has changed and may be worse.  This is what I dread!

What are your experiences on contacting a support hotline, has it been good, problematic, a mixture? I would say mine is a mixture, Plusnet is great and very deaf aware, but Vodafone, not so much.

‘Til next time,



One thought on “Contacting a Support Hotline by Jamie Danjoux

  1. A mixture… I sued HMRC in 2013 for exactly this, failure to provide suitable alternative methods. They settled in my favour after a lot of messing around… There is no more proof of a phone person being you than a text person being you – proven by how many deaf/HOH people use family members or friends of the same appropriate sounding gender to phone on their behalf…

    It is the duty of the organisation to make a reasonable adjustment for us, not for us to adjust to their failure to get with the 21st Century. My ISP, Andrews and Arnold (AAISP) can do support by phone, email, Internet Relay Chat, SMS, fax and specifically welcome deaf customers – they’re brilliant and I consider it worth the fairly expensive (premium) service not to have the stress. They’ll be taking over our phoneline now I have got Next Gen Text Relay “NGT” sorted.

    I don’t like using NGT for calls involving complex personal data as I don’t trust the relaying (the ops aren’t well enough trained, it’s not their fault), callcentre staff get flustered by it and mistakes are made all round. I once had £10,000 sent from a business bank account to the WRONG recipient because the bank’s callcentre adviser got flustered and sloppy. It was fortunate the actual recipient was a friendly business relationship person who transferred the money to the right place for us. The bank paid me £50 as an apology for that one…

    Companies need to know NGT is not a magic answer. Live text chat is used by lots of people not just deaf people so is more inclusive all round.

    I don’t allow people to make calls for me, mistakes happen then and my friends and family are not legally indemnified (legally secure/responsible) for any mistakes and I’m not willing to take that liability which a company would be very quick to shove onto me. Organisations who don’t provide suitable support options outside of “telephony” are at risk of a legal complaint being taken against them… I don’t use them if I can help it, but if it’s a government dept like HMRC it’s not much of a choice, so I am glad I took legal action against them as they are now providing face to face appointments and their continuing unlawful discriminatory practices have a light shone on them.

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