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Turning Over New Leaf

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Embellished Tales of an American Consumer





Embellished Tales of an American Consumer
© 2007 by J J Botta. All rights reserved.







The Telephone Company (Continued)

Somehow, consumers just know when they are entering the sphere of trouble in the telephone universe. My day of enlightenment came just prior to my last residential move. The conversation still plays like an internal ring tone, foreshadowing my ultimate political shift to consumer isolationism:

“Hey neighbor. Can you help me out?”

“Why certainly,” I responded, like a good 1950s neighbor in the 21st century, emulating my father at the same age.

“They’re doing some construction on the next block and they must have cut the phone line again. Can you call the company and let them know for me?”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll give them a shout right now and I’ll run across the street to let you know what they say.”

Now, I am not that naive. I am well aware life is never that simple. Yet, I am neighborly, and a man of my word. I immediately called the telephone company, not really anticipating the initial response, something like this:

“You have reached the corporate service offices of the telephone company. Our regular hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays. If this is an emergency, dial 1. for all other calls, dial 2.”

It sounded like a dial 2 to me, so I pushed the magic button.

“To make a payment by credit card or debit card, dial 1. To make a payment by direct withdrawal from a checking or savings account, dial 2. For all other payment methods, dial 3. For telephone installation, dial 4, if it is a new installation, or dial 5 if you wish to add a phone to an existing line. For service to an existing line, dial 6, if it is a business line, or dial 7, if it is a residential line. To speak with a sales representative, dial 8. For all other services, dial 9. To speak with a customer service representative, dial 10, or remain on the line.”

I considered myself a dial 9. Dialing 9 elicited a quick response:

“For installation of a new telephone line, dial 1. For service to an existing telephone line, dial 2.”

I immediately recognized myself as a dial 2, and proudly complied.
“For service to a business line, dial 1. For service to a residential line, dial 2.”

I was obviously a dial 2 again, but I started thinking I could have dialed 7 about ten minutes ago to hear the same computer. Nevertheless, I hit #2.

“Please hold a moment for our next available representative.”

What exactly is a moment? As a clueless consumer, I assumed reasonableness was a universal philosophy in the business world. I waited.

“All of our representatives are currently servicing other customers. Please hold for the next available representative.”

I did.

“All of our representatives are currently servicing other customers. Please hold for the next available representative.”

With my father’s sense of patience, I held the line.

“All of our representatives are currently servicing other customers. Please hold for the next available representative.”

It was possible, I surmised, that dialing 7 fifteen minutes earlier would have yielded quicker results, but I am a guy who makes a decision and sticks with it.

 “All of our representatives are currently servicing other customers. Please hold for the next available representative.”

About this point, I launched what I call the consumer-computer-chat attack.

“What the hell do you think I have been doing for the last fifteen minutes”?

“All of our representatives are currently servicing other customers. Please hold for the next available representative.”

I was in the middle of another more vicious three-c attack when a human being cut in:

“Good afternoon. This is Debbie. May I have your name and telephone number beginning with your area code please?”

“Good afternoon, Debbie. I am not calling as your customer. I am calling for a friend whose telephone service is out. He asked me to do him a favor and give you a call.”

“What number are you calling from, sir?”

“Well, I’m calling from my number, but I am not having a problem. It is my neighbor.”

“What seems to be the difficulty?” Debbie asked.

“Some construction workers apparently cut his phone line, so he has no service.”

“Why doesn’t he call us?” she said.

“Some construction workers apparently cut his phone line, so he has no service.”

“I’m sorry, but the consumer must call us directly for service.”

“He asked me to make the call for him.”

“Are you his representative?”

“No, just a neighbor, but he asked me to call on his behalf.”

Now Debbie was one of the better company agents. She had the ability to use her discretion. She was flexible enough to handle the problem with uncommon common sense. She took his name and address, and assured me the service personnel would be dispatched that very day. I am a good friend. My neighbor recognized my goodness. So did the phone company. They promptly billed $80.00 for the service call to my account.
                                                                 More to Follow.......

7 comments:

  1. I think you stole this story from a few hundred thousand phone company victims!! It sounds all too true.

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  2. It sure seems like it. Everyone who reads this has had similar experiences.

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  3. *BURN* I hate voicemail systems...but the telephone company does not have the worst one. I was recently on one that had NO HUMANS at all, just a continuous loop.

    Everyone has this experience. I was almost expecting the neighbor to call Israel or something!

    Waiting more...!

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  4. Oh - yes, I've been here too. I was having trouble with my DSL line, and the person on the phone kept telling me to go on line and .... follow the prompts. "I CAN'T GET ON LINE - THAT'S THE PROBLEM." I think they must have a prep-sheet of canned responses (even the live, non-recorded people). It makes me crazy!!! Now, instead of going through the list of choices, I keep repeating, "Speak to an associate." It gets me to a live person much quicker!

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  5. Karen: Wait until I get to the cable companies. They are even worse!

    ReplyDelete

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