Tuesday, November 17, 2009


When I call any company or organization these days for assistance, I try to prepare myself mentally ahead of time. Almost always, to get the help I seek, I must first, like Frodo the Hobbit taking the ring of power to be destroyed by fire in Mordor, pass through a series of dangerous encounters at the hands of the enemies who stand between me and my quest. Truly it takes courage to stay on the path, for there are many pitfalls along the way.

The first challenge is to find a phone number to call.
On most bills or invoices, they tell you a thousand things you don't want to know, but the phone number to call for help....good luck finding that. It's rarely on the front of the document, they reserve that for important stuff like showing the interest rate for late payments out to 11 decimal places. If it's there at all, it's on the back buried in all that boilerplate in six point type that the regulatory agencies force them to disclose.

If you are lucky enough to find a phone number and dial it, you now enter the pushbutton maze that passes for customer service. "Press 1 for English". Now I'm pissed off even before I talk to anyone. "We're sorry, our operators (one broken-down employee who has failed at every other job they tried) are busy helping other customers." Then, "Your call is important to us". Bulls**t, or I'd be talking to somebody by now. I don't have the patience to wade through the maze so I start frantically punching "0" the minute I hear the recording, in the hopes of getting a live operator.

Surprisingly, this often works. We are now ready to deal with door number two. "Morrin! Joowish to oddor sunteen?" Excuse me?! After several painful exchanges, with her getting more annoyed with me each time, it seems she was saying: Morning! You wish to order something"? Now we're cooking. She continues: "Wha July do water"? I'm in trouble again. More back and forth gets me a translation: "What would you like to order". I'm nearly in tears, but  finally (I think) get my order placed.
"Ten-joo-berry-muds" she cheerily concludes. "You're welcome" I answer.

If you're lucky, you may get a service rep who actually speaks English. Don't gloat, you ain't there yet. The first thing they try to do is transfer you to someone else. "Oh sorry, you need the parts department". "Wait, please don't transfer me...." bzzzzzz. "We're sorry, our operators are busy helping other customers."  Or you might get the rep who's been on the job for two hours and breaks off every 30 seconds to nervously ask the a**hole next to her (whose been on the job six hours) how to resolve your problem.

The kicker is the e-mail you later get asking you to take a short survey about your service experience. "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, how would you describe your experience with us". Er, -9. Every once in a great while, when Jupiter aligns with Mars, and you get a polite, articulate, helpful person who immediately solves your problem, you sit down and weep. When will corporations get it? Never, I fear.



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The Whiner said...

Sadly it's very true. I try to avoid calling any company if at all possible. I try to do the live chat via email if I need to actually converse with someone. I hate when you hear them typing frantically....since they can never find any information, I think they just bang on the keyboard randomly to make it sound like they are working.

Jim Pantaleno said...


Joseph Del Broccolo said...

chur velkum!