I imagine all of us must deal with either a utility or creditor or some other entity with lousy customer service. No exception here. In fact we are "blessed" with a notoriously bad cable/Internet/phone provider, that consistently ranks rock bottom when public is surveyed about customer service quality. Over priced and quirky, yet they have us over a barrel, because unbundling to separate companies is even more expensive.
The other night I had called the media giant to double check my due date and exact billing amount. To my pleasant surprise the nice English-as-primary-language speaker actually offered a few account tweaks that would knock a chunk of my bill. This was especially sweet because one of my complaints about the provider is that they have all sorts of deals for new subscribers and nothing for the loyal and long suffering. I was thinking kind thoughts about the cable company for a whole 15 minutes, till the Internet went out.
Naturally I tried all the usual remedies, rebooting modem and router and running computer diagnostics. Finally I picked up the phone to call the provider and discover the phone is also out. Since the phone and modem are linked, this is a clue. It also means I must call on the cell phone, which unlike the cell phone has a limited number of minutes per month.
The first words I hear after I call the 800 number is "Due to unusually high call volume..." I select the option for tech issues. The excessively friendly robovoice says it will reset my modem, then to call back if it still doesn't work.
It doesn't work.
One of the problems with the customer service is that there is no way to shortcut the process. One must run the gamut of punch in your number, select the problem, and wait on hold until one can get to a human being, regardless of the number of times one has called in the last 24 hours. This is especially annoying when I call on the house phone and receive instructions that will of course disconnect the phone in the course of the reboot. But at least today I am on my cell phone.
I call back. Robovoice acknowledges my previous call and asks if the reset worked. I want to answer "of course it worked, I just wanted to burn some more phone minutes" but my only options are yes or no so I select no.
I settle in at my functional but non communicative computer for the long haul, thinking calming thoughts that at least its the end of the phone month and I'm not so resentful of the burned minutes.
I spend the next half hour or so on hold editing the pictures and catching up on the blog. I even write this.. Finally a human comes on the line.
Now why do tech people always assume we are idiots? They don't ask "have you reset?" They say "I want you to reset the modem then reboot your computer and call back if it doesn't work." I reply that I have already done this a number of times, most recently at the prompting of the Robovoice, without success. She then starts asking me questions about the various lights on the modem. Finally we establish that the modem is fried. The good news is that the modem is rented from the cable company and will be replaced by them. The bad news is that we can either schedule a repair call for some vaguely defined future date or take it in ourselves. We opt for the later.
So we take the modem to the center, exchange it, hook the replacement up. (the cable company, by the way, appears to be using exactly the same model as the last one that we acquired 12 years ago when we moved into this house). We soon discover that the internet is now working, but not the phone. Back to the cell phone I go. At least this time they are not having unusually high call volume. The first tech I speak to immediately tells me that something must be wrong with the phone wiring and that she will have to schedule a service call. I decide to try checking all the connections and cords before doing that. After making sure it all looked right and still getting a dial tone I call back to schedule the dreaded service visit.
I get a different tech. I explain the problem yet again. Immediately he responds, "Let me check something, I think I know what is wrong." He places me, still on the cell phone, on hold. A minute or two later my house phone springs to life. "Your phone was still looking for the old modem. It just had to be told to look for the new one. I'm surprised the other tech didn't try that." I of course am not in the least surprised, but thank him and hang up, and some 24 hours after the saga began, full service is restored to our household.
I have 12 minutes left on the cell phone.
My only consolation through all this is that occasionally the utility calls with surveys reference their service. One time they got my son, who told them "You don't want to know what my mom thinks of your service." And they probably don't. But I'll be ready for the next poll.
If there's one thing I like even less than dealing with customer service it's dealing with Mondays. But at least there's a cure for Mondays. Walk don't run over to the I don't like Mondays blog hop hosted by the amazing Linda Roy of elleroy was here. Read what some great bloggers think about Mondays. Coffee is optional but highly recommended.