Customer service--a four-letter word?

In Britain, callers to the help line at broadband company NTL get an earful of profanity.

Will Sturgeon Special to CNET News.com
Broadband services provider NTL Group is reeling from an embarrassing incident in which callers to its customer service help line heard a profanity-laced voice message.

The British company is attributing the message that replaced its usual recorded greeting to a malicious hacker or a disgruntled employee, according to published reports.

The message in full, which contained a flurry of four-letter words, said: "Hello. You are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a f*** about you. We are never here. We will f*** you about, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just f*** off and leave us alone. Get a life."

The foul-mouthed wordsmith reportedly spoke with a Geordie accent, suggesting it was somebody local to the Northeast England call center.

Some NTL customers may have been offended by the message, but others may also have applauded it as displaying some refreshing honesty. NTL has regularly been accused of poor customer service and recently was named as the second-worst company for dealing with customer queries and complaints by management consultants TMI, which compiled the "National Complaints Culture Survey."

In October 2001, one disgruntled NTL customer was so incensed about the level of service he received from the company that he penned a now notorious letter of complaint. The customer complained about an "inadequacy of service which had not previously been considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions."

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.