The 'time thieves' at customer service

My wife and I have been waiting for a total of 11.5 hours now for a tradsperson to arrive to fix our dishwasher. When we can send a man to the moon – and are told customer service is all in the modern economy – how come this keeps happening?

I've just got off the phone to someone responsible for what can only loosely be called "customer service". This is not the first, second or even third time my wife or I made such a call, all in an effort to get a Haier dishwasher fixed by Fisher & Paykel.

Calling them 'customer service' people is laughable. So let's label them as what they are: Time thieves.

So long has passed now it's hard to remember – who was Prime Minister when this all started? – but at least three weeks ago we contacted Fisher & Paykel customer service (snort) to arrange a fix for our broken Haier dishwasher.

The first time my wife arranged to leave work early, changed childcare arrangements and so forth to be home at an agreed time. The technician turned up two and a half hours early and asked her to leave work then.

It was explained (belatedly) that they work on a four hour window (four hours!) and you had to wait obediently at home for half a day to be there when they called (contrary to arrangements on the first call). But, the person on the phone said, because they'd messed up the first time they'd fit us into a two hour window. So again my wife altered work, children and life to sit and wait. No show.

Again they apologised, but said there were no notes about coming within a two hour window, and they couldn't really do that anyway because – don't you know? – they work on a four hour window. They really can't be any more precise than that.

So a third time was arranged. Today. Again, despite the protestations last time, we were promised a two hour window. Notes were diligently recorded on our file, we were told. Further, we were promised we would be the first job of the day.

By 9am it was clear that obligation hadn't been met. By 10.15, I rang again. Sorry, they said, but they couldn't find any job under that name and address. After a few minutes searching they found the job under street number 62, not 63. Oops, typo. But the phone numbers were correct.

So they went to the wrong address and didn't call, I asked astounded? No, they just haven't got to us yet. Still. They work to a four hour window, you know.

So yes, when the offer was made by the support desk person, I said yes I would like to speak to customer service. As had my wife before me.

Sorry, she said. Can't understand how this would have happened, she said. Perhaps his earlier jobs had gone long, she said. If you can't meet the agreed window, even after two stuff ups, perhaps you're in the wrong bloody business, I didn't say. (Although I did point out that the two hours was agreed and wasn't it ridiculous to make such an arrangement and fail it for a third time, I said. Yes, she said).

I also pointed out that we had been promised the first job of the day, so it shouldn't have been an issue of jobs running late. The technician usually does your area late morning/lunch time, she said, so no idea why the other people would have promised you the first job. And yet they did, I said. And it was meant to be in the notes.

Hmmmm, I scribbled down in the note file in my head, perhaps you don't need four hour windows if you know that your technician does certain areas at certain times. But there was no point pushing that boulder uphill any further.

I also pointed out that my wife had been told that they were the only people who could service their machines; an odd claim certainly, I concede, but one we stupidly took at face value. Now this 'customer service' person said we could always go elsewhere. Charming.

She then proceeded to try to put blame back on us, saying we had missed a call from them this morning. As she went away to check, I called my wife. When the time thief returned, we agreed we hadn't missed any call, as my wife had just informed me. But there was no apology.

My final question was how they intended to compensate me for 12 hours of my family's time. She said there was nothing she could do. So, not really customer service then.

If I welched on a contract or missed my deadline three times, there would be consequences. Financial for my employer probably disciplinary for me. But not in this world it seems.

Those are work hours lost, chores not done, childcare compromised, dog not walked, hair not cut, groceries not bought and everyday life disrupted three times because Fisher & Paykel can't run the logistics of its own service centre.

The bigger picture issue is that, while most tradespeople don't miss three agreed appointments, they do all seem to think it's OK to work in these big "windows", asking you to put huge amounts of time aside to wait on their convenience.

This experience has rammed home to me how insane it is that while the rest of the workforce has become incredibly flexible and utterly customer focused, this one sector – tradespeople and any service folk who come to your house – is still behaving as if it's 1956 and the little woman is at home all day willing to wait for the tradie to come.

Surely if outfits such as Fisher & Paykel can invent dishdrawers, they can figure out a system to be more precise about their service times. And that goes for all tradespeople. Why is it they get to work in a way completely out-dated for modern living, where so few families have people at home during the day? How do they think it's OK for us to sacrifice our time and money in our busy lives, to suit them?

Every other service I can think of has moved to provide customers with precise times, terms and conditions, yet these people still think a four hour window is acceptable.

They are living in a time that's gone, working to a schedule no longer fit for purpose. It's time to buck up.

And that goes to you especially, Fisher & Paykel. In the time since I got off the phone from your lamentable customer service people, I've been able to write this blog. And there's still no technician here. I'm still waiting.