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Slow response raises alarm
'Hiccup' left Yk Vivint Canada Inc. customer waiting more than two months for home alarm system re- instalment

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 10, 2012

By many accounts, home security company Vivint Inc. is committed to great customer service.

NNSL photo/graphic

Rod McBryan, aircraft maintenance director for Buffalo Airways, displays the Vivint Inc. alarm system sign in the door of his Yellowknife home. McBryan is happy with the company's service.

Even Gallery of the Midnight Sun owner Lisa Seagrave, who waited more than two months for a technician to service her Yellowknife home's Vivint alarm system, will testify to how customer service appears to be ingrained at every level of the American company's corporate culture.

"The staff are very well-trained at the call centre," Seagrave told Yellowknifer. "They're all very pleasant. They never lose their tempers. They are full of compliments. They're unfailingly polite."

But as the weeks stretched on as her home system lay unhooked following a home remodelling, not providing the protection she continued to be charged for, Seagrave also made some other observations about the customer service representatives.

"Most of them are extremely condescending and completely unhelpful," she said. "So, to me, it's a bit of a frustrating combination."

"We're sorry you feel that way," Seagrave said she heard, and "I understand your frustration."

"I understand that you're told to say that to people to try to diffuse situations with unhappy customers," she told them. "But that's not what I need to hear. What I need to hear is that you're going to actually do something."

When the renovations were completed on her home, Seagrave called Vivint to have her security panel reinstalled on Nov. 9. Her contract states "all repairs shall be performed as soon as reasonably possible after receipt of notice from customers," so she was taken aback when she was told they would call her the next week to let her know when a technician would be available.

It would not be until Jan. 20 when a technician finally reinstalled her alarm system.

"It looks like she fell through the cracks, which we feel horribly about," Vivint spokesperson Megan Herrick said, noting there was a transition between technicians in Yellowknife, when one left the electrical company contracted by Vivint.

Tanner Leavitt, the Vivint technician who oversees the western Canada region, said there was roughly a three-month gap between Yellowknife-based technicians.

"We made every effort to make sure our customers were still taken care of by sending up technicians," he said, adding technicians were sent from Edmonton to meet other Yk customer calls during the time Seagrave was waiting. "There was a hiccup there but we do have a full-time technician there now that will take care of our customers because that's obviously our ultimate priority."

Rod McBryan, aircraft maintenance director for Buffalo Airways, has had a Vivint system protecting his Yk home since last September and told Yellowknifer he is very happy with the system and the customer service. He said it is understandable that the company has contracted a technician in Yellowknife.

"They may not have a dedicated person here, but I can see why not," he said. "It's not like they have 10,000 homes to cover."

Currently, Vivint has about 400 customers in Yellowknife--of its 500,000 customers across Canada and the United States.

While the Yellowknife technician has completed his training and is now available to customers here, Danmax Communication Ltd. operations manager Terry Gylytiuk, whose company also sells alarm systems, warns a contractor may not be enough.

"I'd be cautious of anybody that is not a local company coming up here selling alarm systems," Gylytiuk said. "Because who's going to service that system now? If I get two phone calls--one is one of my customer, and one is a customer who has somebody else's system--my customer takes 100 per cent priority--you shouldn't be waiting more than 24 hours."

Herrick said the contractor is held to the same obligations Vivint employees are held to.

"So we still expect them to be providing the same customer service," she said. "It's just that something fell through the cracks."

Seagrave's account has been credited for the two-and-a-half months that her system was uninstalled, and she said she feels assured that another "hiccup" will not happen.

"Again, we feel horrible," Herrick said. "One unhappy customer makes us unhappy. We'd hate to have one negative situation jade a whole community in terms of what we're trying to do from a customer service standpoint."

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