Leave Us Alone

Have you noticed that more and more companies are making it nearly impossible for you to contact them through their websites? Some are particularly diabolical in their plots to tell us all to get stuffed. They provide a contact button, and when you click it, you have two options. Their mailing address (as if any of us write letters anymore) or their help center, in which you can speak to an automated phone system that sends you from one menu to the next, but ultimately does not help you at all, or you can post a message in a community forum where you get to commiserate with all the other frustrated customers out there who also have no idea what to do about their situations.

Am I alone in thinking this is a piss poor business model? I get it. The incessant ringing of the telephone means you actually have to do your job, and that gets expensive. But telling your customers that you can’t be bothered, that you’re happy to take their money but will do little or nothing to serve them, seems like the best way on earth to lose their loyalty. It might even get you the occasional disgruntled, mentally ill consumer visiting corporate headquarters with the ubiquitous AK47.

Ah but in this present atmosphere of monopolies, we, the customers, have fewer and fewer options when we’re dissatisfied. Many cities give you two possibilities for wifi at the very most, for example. So there’s not much we can do other than shout into the phone, “I need to talk to a HUMAN!!!!” and hope the robot will finally see reason.

I long for the day when the pendulum swings back the other way, when companies aren’t allowed to get too big to fail, and, due to the increase in competition, customer service becomes a priority once again. But I’m not going to hold my breath while listening to the Muzak that seems to be the soundtrack of my life these days.

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Falling Down the Customer Service Rabbit Hole

What follows are the highlights of an online conversation I had with Tracfone Wireless. For reference, “You” is me, and anything italicized is my inner dialogue. (Because I’d never be quite so rude as to say these things out loud.) Items in bold are a synopsis of things I left out so as not to torture you as much as I was being tortured. Some information has been changed to protect my privacy.

This conversation took well over an hour, and at the end it’s a pure miracle I had any hair left in my head at all, such was my level of frustration.

Chat Transcript

  : Thank you for visiting Tracfone today. How may I help you?

Wendy : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Redundant, but okay…

 

Wendy : Hi Barbara. How may I assist you?

You : Hi Wendy. I have been trying to port my phone number from Tracfone to Verizon for two weeks. They said it should only take two days. Can you tell me what the hold up is?

Wendy : I’m sorry to hear that. Please allow me a moment to look into this.

You : Thank you.

Wendy : You are welcome.

Wendy : I did not find any record about a port out request. Have you contacted the new service provider to investigate the status of your request?

You : Yes. They claim they’ve placed the request twice.

Wendy : I will need to contact our Portability department for assistance. One moment, please.

Wendy : We will have to transfer you to a portability specialist to further assist you with your port request.

Ram : Thank you for choosing TracFone Wireless as your service provider.

Ram : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Again, redundant. But again, okay.

 

Ram : Hi Barbara. Allow me a moment to review your previous chat conversation.

You : Hi Ram. Thank you.

Ram : You’re welcome. One moment, please.

Ram : Are we working on the phone number that ends with 1234.

You : yes

Ram : Alright. Do you have the phone with you?

You : I have both the 1234 phone and the one I want to port it to. Both are with me.

Ram : Okay. Phone is already active.

You : Yes. They gave me a temporary number.

Ram : What is the last four number of the IMEI of the new phone?

You : xxxx

Ram : Thank you. What is your security PIN?

You : yyyy

Ram : That is not what we have here.

You : zzzz maybe? You are talking about for my Verizon phone?

Ram : No. Your security PIN from us.

You : wwww?

Ram : Yes.

You : 🙂

Ram : We don’t have records on the new IMEI number.

You : Do you have a record of any portability request?

Ram : Yes.

(You’ll see below that that’s in direct contradiction to what he’ll say later.)

You : Hmmm. Are the last 4 digits aaaa?

Ram : No.

You : When you asked for my IMEI number originally, were you asking for my TRACFONE IMEI, or the one it should be ported to?

You : My current tracfone IMEI is xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

You : I want it ported to qqqqqqqqqqqq.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : I have that.

You : The Main phone on the verizon account ends in tttt, but we do NOT want my number ported to that phone. He wants to keep his number.

Ram : The new phone is this a tracfone as well.

You : The new phone is not a tracfone. Tracfones are incompatible with Verizon, apparently, so I had to buy a new one.

Ram : I see.

Ram : Let me check this one.

Ram : Do you still have this old phone?

I already told you that.

 

You : yes

Ram : The one that ends with 4321? Where did you get the new phone?

You : From Verizon.  And yes, I do have the one ending in 4321 still.

You : I’d like to NOT have it anymore… but I’m waiting for you guys to port.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : That is the reason I was not able to access the new phone.

You : Ah. So what do I have to do?

Ram : Are you leaving us?

WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN SAYING THIS ENTIRE FREAKIN’ TIME????

 

You : Yes

Ram : You are porting out from us.

IS THAT NOT WHAT PORTING OUT MEANS?

 

You : Yes.

Ram : If that is the case you need to call your new provider what you want.

You : They made their first request to you TWO WEEKS AGO. They repeated their request a week ago.

Ram : We did not received them.

You : I am not sure what the problem is. I just want my phone number ported from my Tracfone to my Verizon phone. I can’t believe how hard this is. Is there any number they can call directly and speak to a human being at Tracfone? Because otherwise they’ll just repeat their fruitless request a third time.

Ram : I am telling you, we did not received a request.

Ram : If that is the case, then yes.

Huh?

 

You : So tell me a way they can call directly to someone who can fix this. Please.

Ram : All they need to do is send a port out request.

You : And they have told me they have, twice.  So I don’t know where the disconnect is. But if their human could talk to your human, maybe it could be resolved.

Ram : I apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced due to this issue.

You : I know this is not your fault, Ram. I’m not blaming you. But please understand my frustration. Two weeks. Two different stories.  And no one talking to anyone directly.

Ram : I don’t see any request from your old provider.

We’ve established that.

 

Ram : We are working on the phone number that ends with 1234?

For God’s SAKE!!!!!

 

You : Yes. That’s my old tracfone number. And they would be my NEW provider, not my old one. But if their requests are going to the wrong place, I need a direct number they can call.

You : My verizon temporary number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. That’s the phone I want my 1234 number ported to.

Ram : We can’t open your that temporary number, that is not with us.

I know that.

 

Ram : Just informed them that I mentioned that we did not received a request.

Ram : Not once.

You : Who did you inform?

Ram : You.

Gaaaaaaaaaaah!

 

You : Yes, you did. What I am saying is that on THEIR end, THEY think they’ve put in the request twice. Apparently it’s not getting to you. Therefore THEY need a direct phone number to call at Tracfone, so that THEY can call YOU GUYS and get this straightened out. Because clearly they are sending their requests to the wrong place.

Ram : Okay. This is our portability hotline number 18003272077.

Was that so freakin’ hard?

 

You : Thank you Ram.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

You : That’s quite enough. Thanks.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Thank you for chatting with TracFone Wireless.

Give me strength.

 

After that, I spoke again with Verizon.

Then I had a pint of ice cream in one sitting.

The situation wasn’t resolved for another three days, and required 3 more phone conversations.

Frustration

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Nails

One of my rear tires was looking slightly flat. Again. It would never lose enough pressure to set off alarm bells in my mind, but it really was starting to annoy me.

The gas station’s mechanic must have seen me muttering to myself at the air pump, and he came over to investigate. He offered to remove the tire and inspect it for free, and sure enough, I had picked up a nail somewhere along the way. He repaired the tire for 16 dollars and off I went. That’s excellent customer service.

I must have been driving around with that nail for months. How amazing that something could have such a low grade negative impact on my life and yet I hadn’t noticed for so long. It made me wonder what other “nails” I carry around without even realizing it.

Almost immediately after having that thought, I stumbled across my journal from my senior year in high school. I sat down to read it for the first time since I had written it. It was a painful read.

I had forgotten how miserable I was as a teenager. My self-esteem was at rock bottom. I was so starved for love and validation that I went looking for those things in all the wrong places. For example, I described an excruciating date in which the boy in question had treated me horribly. I mean, really, there was no excuse for his disrespectful behavior. And then I wailed, “And he didn’t even kiss me good night!” Ah, teenage angst.

I practically had “welcome” tattooed across my forehead. I was a bleeding fish among sharks. I was so easy to victimize that I drew unscrupulous people into my orbit. The 52 year old me weeps for the 17 year old me. But the 17 year old me did not know any better. She had no frame of reference that would lead her to believe that she deserved more.

Those old journals are heartbreaking. But I’m going to continue to read them, because I cannot affect repairs on myself until I know exactly how many nails I’ve been driving through life with. I think I have some customer service I need to apply to myself, and it’s long overdue.

nail

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Let’s Review

Every single day, my e-mail inbox is filled with requests that I review some product that I’ve purchased. Or someone wants my feedback on the service they recently provided me. (The only company I know that doesn’t do this is AT&T, because they already know that they give piss-poor customer service, and they couldn’t care less.)

I get it. It’s annoying. And I have to admit that like you, I often ignore these requests.

But by doing so, we are all shooting ourselves in the foot. Think about it. We all know that the larger the organization, the less they really care what you think of the goods or services they provide. They can afford a certain level of customer angst, because there are always more customers for them. Especially if they have the market pretty much cornered.

We as consumers benefit more when there are a large number of small businesses competing, rather than one big indifferent one. Competition brings prices down. Competition means much better customer service, because your business actually means something to these mom and pop companies. They desperately need your feedback. The only way most small companies can build up their reputations is through customer reviews. And who provides them? Us.

So help out that little company that’s selling stuff on Amazon. Give honest feedback on eBay. Give credit where credit is due. It may seem insignificant, but it helps us all.

Having said that, I’m one of those people who desperately needs your review. If you’ve read my book, A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude, please leave a review on Amazon.com. This helps me in many ways. Enough reviews will get Amazon’s attention, and they’ll promote the book more. And you might encourage someone else to buy the book. That’ll help keep my dogs in kibble.

C’mon. Do it for my dogs. Thanks.

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I Miss the Saturn Experience

I’ve had a lot of cars in my lifetime, but I’ve only bought one that was brand new. It was a 1998 Saturn SL2. I loved that car. Not only because it got me from point A to point B, but at the time the Saturn folks were embarked on this radical new philosophy in car sales, and I felt like I was on the cutting edge.

Back then, when you bought a Saturn you were joining a family. The list price was the price. There was no haggling, no pressure, no feeling like you might be getting ripped off. I found that extremely refreshing. And when you signed on the dotted line, every employee in the building stopped what they were doing and they came out and cheered. It made you feel like a rock star. Somewhere I still have a picture of me standing next to my salesman at that moment.

And afterward, you were still considered family. They had parties. Bar-b-cues. Classes. You got cards in the mail. People often went to Tennessee to tour the factory. When you took your car in for periodic maintenance, they knew you by name. They welcomed your dogs in the waiting room, and offered you doughnuts and coffee. When they’d finished working on your car, they would wash it and leave candy or a cut flower on your seat.

I was really proud to be a part of that, and I suspect that if Saturn still existed, I’d be a customer for life, even though the cars themselves weren’t sexy or innovative or award winning. I’m sure that had a lot to do with their downfall. But it’s a moot point. Sadly, Saturn is no more.

I don’t know which came first, their financial decline or their philosophical decline, but I did notice that in their last few years, suddenly there were no more flowers, no more parties, and no one took those factory tours anymore. It made me sad.

You just don’t see that level of customer service anywhere nowadays. Yes, all those little extras take time and cost money, but they are priceless. They are unforgettable.

I’m glad that I got to stand at the very pinnacle of the car buying experience, if only for a brief, shining moment. I’m not ashamed to say that when my Saturn was t-boned beyond repair, I shed more than a few tears. I would probably still be driving that vehicle today if it hadn’t been for that.

When I lost that car, I lost a family too. The fact that no other organization seems to be trying to create that kind of family feeling shows how short-sighted corporate America can be.

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Verbal Manipulation

I was speaking to someone in a position of authority the other day, and he said, “Wouldn’t you agree that…” and then he went on to push his poorly thought out agenda for policy change. So I responded, “Actually, no, I don’t agree. And here’s why.”

He wasn’t expecting that. You could see it in his eyes. But I don’t like to be manipulated. It’s just another form of bullying as far as I’m concerned. And when your weapon of choice is words, well, you’ve met your match.

I especially hate verbal manipulation in the customer service realm. For example, for a while there AT&T employees were forced to end all phone conversations by saying, “Thank you for being the best part of AT&T.” Seriously?

First of all, you can say that all day long, but that doesn’t erase the fact that you provide, arguably, the worst customer service of any company on the face of the earth. Forcing your employees to say that does not convince us otherwise, and it certainly does not convince your employees that their jobs aren’t detestable nightmares. What it does do is make your organization look even less sincere than it already is.

I know that there is something to be said for putting a positive spin on things, but there’s also something to be said for not taking it too far. Sure, it may be good on some level to call “problems” “challenges”, but the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wasn’t a challenge. It was a freakin’ disaster of epic proportions. There’s no spinning that.

A big pet peeve of mine is the phrase, “We should…” Don’t should me. You aren’t me. You can’t make decisions for me. You don’t have the power to establish rules for me.

And don’t even get me started on “If you loved me, you’d…” That kind of talk makes me run for the nearest exit. I’d be tempted to not even say good-bye on the way out.

I prefer straight shooters. Tell me what you want or need, and why, and let me form my own opinions and make my own choices. How hard is that?

Manipulation
And what happens if I don’t bring you coffee?

Bother Me Not

Have you ever noticed that some websites seem to deliberately make it difficult for you to contact them? They either hide their “Contact Us” tab, befuddling all but the most determined, or don’t have one at all, or they make you jump through 20,000 hoops or they only provide their address and phone number, expecting you to take that extra step to get in touch, and banking on the fact that most of us won’t bother. This is HORRIBLE customer service.

It’s also an idiotic way to run a company. Often your customers will spot problems with your website long before you will, and can suggest ways to improve its functionality. Being responsive to these suggestions increases customer satisfaction and repeat business. Many’s the time I’ve simply gone elsewhere when I’ve bumped up against a site that isn’t user-friendly. If your site is full of dead links and bad grammar, the public won’t take you seriously.

I would love to be able to contact Facebook. I’ve had these two complaints/suggestions for years. But they don’t want to hear from me.

  • Issue one: Their message drop down menu. Have you ever clicked on the “other” option? Check it out. You might be surprised. I once found a year and a half old job offer sitting in there. They need to get rid of the “other” category and just let all your messages be all your messages. I’m a big girl. I can figure out what to delete.
  • Issue two: They need a place where you can write helpful descriptions about people on your friends list that will be visible only to you. Often I can’t remember why someone is there and how I even know them. It would be nice to be able to go to their page and look at a box that they can’t see where you can type, “I met this guy in 2011 through so and so, and we have xyz in common. But never discuss politics with him.”

And I wish WordPress, the site that hosts this blog, were a little easier to contact, too. I’d tell them that their latest improvements are giving me fits. If I click on the comment icon while in Firefox, nothing happens. And they’ve removed my ability to get to the comments from the drop down menu, so now if I want to look at my comments, the only way I’ve figured out how to get there is to click on statistics, then click on blog posts/add, then go to classic view, then click on comments. This, my friends, is a monumental pain in the a**.

And for pity’s sake, people, if you give your customers a mailing list option, include an opt out option that works on the bottom of every e-mail you send them. There’s nothing worse than signing up for something, regretting it, and then being perpetually pestered.

End of rant.

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[This example of a really bad website, and ways to avoid having one, can be found on this blog.]

My Jacksonville to Seattle Odyssey—Part 8–Home Sweet Home!

In truth I’ve been in Seattle for a week now. When I first arrived I felt kind of claustrophobic after driving through big sky country, so my first thought was, “Oh, God. I’m not liking this.” But then I got my city legs back, so to speak.

I have to say that I love this place. The rolling hills and the lush greenery and the stunning vistas at unexpected moments… it all takes my breath away. I also like the laid back attitude and the liberal sentiments. People take the environment and diversity pretty freakin’ seriously around here. I feel like when I left the conservative South I took off a pair of shoes that had been two sizes too small.

Another thing that impresses me is that when you ask people for help, they go above and beyond anything you have a right to expect. I couldn’t find something in a Lowes Home Improvement Store, and the clerk didn’t know where it was either, so she logged out of her computer, logged into the regular internet, researched it, got a product number, logged back into the Lowes system, checked the inventory, discovered they had 7 in stock, then led me personally all the way to the other side of the store to get it. And so far this kind of service isn’t the exception, it’s the rule, everywhere I go.

And holy cow, the water that’s coming out of the tap actually tastes good! In Jacksonville, you buy all your drinking water. I can’t believe this.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a down side. The traffic is horrendous. It can take 45 minutes to go 5 miles on Interstate 5, no matter the time of day. And I’m dreading the grey and the rain.

And sometimes I feel like a foreigner. I don’t know my way around at all. Not even slightly. Some of their traffic patterns confuse the hell out of me. It was 5 days before I had the courage to take a right on a red light, because I wasn’t sure if it was legal up here. (It is.) But you can’t legally talk on your cell while driving, and my cell phone is so ancient that they don’t make hands free devices for it, so don’t call me. Not even maybe.

And they sure do talk funny up here. I was in the grocery store and one of the signs at the end of the aisle said “Soda Pop.” Seriously? Is it 1950? I had a bit of a giggle.

And as for the house that I rented sight unseen, well… The dogs adore the yard, and I adore the neighborhood. But the bathroom is a mess. The toilet is right up against the wall, so your shoulder is jammed against it whenever you’re using the facilities. And the shower head comes out of the wall at chest height. And the shower curtain rod is so high that the curtain hovers way above the edge of the tub, so it is pretty much a waste of time trying to avoid getting the floor wet. Half the plugs don’t work, and the exhaust fan over the stove won’t STOP working. The ceiling in the master bedroom is only 6 feet 4 inches high, so you kind of feel squished. But it’s a roof over my head, and I’m so sick of moving I may ask to be buried in the back yard.

And I may not have a choice on that score, because I still don’t have a clue how I’m going to pay for this relocation. I won’t get my first paycheck for about a month, and the debts are mounting. Just registering the car cost me 270 dollars. And a bunch of my stuff got ruined in the move. My favorite chair. My antique armoir. My printer. A whole lot of clothes and bed sheets were destroyed by a burst container of bleach. My mattress is covered in grease.

Another thing I didn’t factor into my expense calculations was that I had to buy a bunch of clothes. I don’t own long sleeved anything, for example, or rain gear, or coats, or water resistant shoes. I spent a lot of time at Goodwill, but believe it or not, it still adds up. It’s going to take me a long, long time before I stop waking up in a cold sweat, wondering how the bills will get paid.

But I have to say, in spite of all the stress, and even though I often feel like a fish out of water, I’m excited to be here. I can’t wait to get out and explore. There’s so much I want to see and do! And when I do (and see) I’ll be sure and take you with me!

My new seattle home

Home Sweet Home.

Incompetence, Thy Name is AT&T

You know, you’d think I’d have learned after writing How to Give Horrible Customer Service, but no. In an area of 1 million people (Jacksonville, Florida) the administration in its infinite wisdom has chosen to only allow two major competitors for our unlimited internet market: AT&T and Comcast.

Comcast service is slow as molasses during peak hours, drops you off line constantly, and while it gives a great introductory rate at first, that price basically triples after the first year. AT&T, on the other hand, “only” doubles its price after the first year. How generous. But for that privilege you have to put up with the worst customer service in the history of mankind. Gee, who to choose?

So despite my horrendous experiences with AT&T in the past, I held my nose and dove back into the vast ocean of ineptitude that is their indifferent and smug bureaucracy. Come with me, dear reader, and hold my hand as I am tossed about on their stormy sea of stupidity. I need you, because when all was said and done, I was forced to dwell on a desert island of internetlessness for seven, count ‘em, seven days. Without you, I’d be forced to talk to a soccer ball like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

1:20 pm: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: U-verse internet active after 8pm 07-01. See self install guide.”

8 pm? When I ordered this service I told them that I’d no longer have access to internet as of midnight today at my old address, so I was hoping to have it with them on 7/1 so I could stay connected. Now I’ll have to go a whole day without internet? Sigh. Okay, whatever. It’s only a day. Let’s take a look at the self install guide. They say it’s really easy. All you need is a phone jack. It doesn’t even need to be active.

I’m standing in the middle of my new rental place, up to my ears in unpacked boxes and chaos, and it occurs to me… hold on… I haven’t seen a phone jack anywhere. I wander from room to room, my heart sinking. Nope. No phone jack. I go outside. No phone box. And no lines leading to the house from the telephone pole. Seriously? I’ve chosen the one house in the free world with no telephone access?

I call AT&T and tell them I can’t do the self install after  all. There are no phone lines whatsoever. They say they’ll send a tech out. Their earliest appointment is the morning of July 2nd. I grit my teeth and say, “Fine, I’ll take it.”

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

10:43 am: After being up all night because I work graveyard shifts, I am woken up by the following text message: “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07-02 between 8am-Noon.” It then urges me to visit their website for status changes. If I had the ability to visit their website, I wouldn’t be in this fix. And I already knew that the tech was coming tomorrow. They told me that on the phone. So they knew I knew, too. Whatever. Communication is good, I suppose.

I can’t imagine how I would have gone through this week if I had regular working hours. Because as you will see, it took no fewer than FIVE visits before they actually got their act together and provided me with the service that they had absolutely no problem taking my money for. If I had had to stay home from work each time, I’d have been in deep trouble.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

9 am the tech arrives, under the mistaken impression that this is going to be a simple phone jack install. I disabuse him of that notion. He confirms what I’ve been saying all along to everyone, that there is no phone line leading to this house at all, and this is to be a complete install. He talks about placing a cable underground from the pole. I like this idea. No sense in having ugly wires going willy-nilly in your yard if not necessary. I go inside and let him get to work.

45 minutes later I peek out and he’s standing next to his truck, talking on his cell phone. I go out and ask how things are going. He tells me there is a slight problem. There is no signal coming to the telephone pole, so even if he installed everything, it wouldn’t work. So before he can get started, he needs to call an INR tech (whatever that is) to come out and sort out the signal. So he’s closing out his repair ticket, ordering one for the INR tech, and once that guy is done he will come right back out and finish what he, uh… never really started. Not to worry, though, once that line is sorted out, it will only take him about 20 minutes to do his part, and I’ll have internet in no time.

1 pm, the INR tech arrives. Much fiddle farting around and doing things that look complicated. I leave him to his work. At around 2:30, I see he’s on his cell phone. Sigh. I go out for a status update, and he tells me he’s almost done here, and then the other guy can come back. I ask him to knock on my door before he leaves and give me an estimated time of arrival. He says he’ll do so.

3:15 pm I look out and the guy is gone. Oh well, I figure the other guy is on his way. But he’s not there by 6 pm, and I resign myself to the fact that he must be coming in the morning. I try to get some sleep but I’m so irritated, I get 4 hours of sleep before working all night.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I get home from work about 8:20 am, and there’s no AT&T truck out front. Great. Just great. Well, it’s not like these guys are the souls of efficiency. I figure I’ll give them an hour.

9:10 am: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Sorry we were unable to complete your U-verse repair. Still trouble? Please visit att.com/ufix or call 888-485-3310.”

Still trouble? What the hell do you think? I have no phone line! So I call them. I explain everything that has transpired to date. They say they will send someone out. But the next available appointment is tomorrow. Are you kidding me? The guy told me he’d be right back! Sorry, ma’am. That’s the next available appointment. Apparently the INR tech didn’t submit a ticket for the first guy, and the first guy just dropped me like a hot rock.

Fine. I hang up and sleep the fitful sleep of the supremely irritated. Then at 10:39 am, I’m awoken by the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Your U-verse repair appt time has changed. Your tech will arrive 07/04 btwn 8 am- Noon.” Again with the visiting of the website for status changes.

Changed? What was it before? For crying out loud. Well, at least I’ll have internet tomorrow. And the office person swears to me that they do work tomorrow, even though it’s a holiday.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The guy arrives relatively promptly and asks to come in and check it out. I tell them there’s nothing to see. There’s no phone jack, no phone line to the house. Nothing. He is stunned. He seems to be under the impression that he was just coming out to help an idiot customer do her simple self install.

He tells me that he’ll have to do a full install (I know) and that there will, of course, be a fee (We’ll just see about that), but no, he will be doing an above ground cable, not a buried one (Whatever it takes).

But this time I don’t go about my business and let him work in private. I’ve learned. So I sit on my front stoop and watch the show. He goes over to the telephone pole. He opens a container and pulls out a mass of tangled cables that looks like an electric tumbleweed from hell. He takes a photograph with his cell phone and makes a call. He’s on the phone for a long, long time.

He comes over to me and tells me that the INR tech yesterday did not fix the signal problem. Well, actually, he may have, but since he didn’t label which of the 5 cables in that mass of 1,500 cables belongs to my house, he has no way of determining which ones to use. So he has scheduled another INR tech to come out to the pole down the block and rewire it entirely. Once that’s done, he’ll come back and set me up.

I say, “You don’t understand. It’s been 4 days. You’re the third person that has reassured me. I still don’t have internet. People probably think I’ve died. I’m afraid that if you leave here, I’m going to be back to square one.” I seriously consider holding the guy hostage.

He tells me not to worry. He says he’s working tomorrow, and that his boss who he was just on the phone with is working tomorrow, too. They will take care of it. He will come back. He leaves. It occurs to me that I can’t even see down the block, so I’ll have no idea when/if the INR tech comes and does his part. And one wonders why I have abandonment issues.

I fall into such a tense and uncomfortable sleep that when I wake up I can no longer raise my left arm without excruciating pain. I work all night like that. Every time I try to move my arm I’m reminded of what a pain this situation has turned out to be

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

I get home at 8:45 am, and again, there is no one out front. I call the phone number and get another indifferent employee. I explain the situation, and she tells me that the INR tech who came out on the second fixed the telephone pole problem, and I explain to her that no, he did not, and they had to send a second one out. She seems quite confused. I tell her in any case, no one has been out here since, it’s been 5 days and 4 techs and yet there is no progress. She says she’ll look into it and call me back.

I want to take a pain pill for my arm, but I’m loathe to do so because I may miss the call. So I toss and turn for 2 hours in considerable discomfort until the phone rings around 10:30 am. She tells me that it appears that the ticket got “lost in the system”. She tells me that she’s place another. She tells me that they work until 8 pm today, and that they also work on Sundays, so someone will be out soon.

5 pm. I call for a status update. Once again I am treated as if this is the first anyone has heard of this situation, and after leaving me on hold for a half hour on my pay by the minute phone, they schedule a technician to come between 4 and 8 pm on Monday. I have to work at that time. My head explodes and I ask to speak to a supervisor. She says that she will have one call me back after hearing me cry tears of utter frustration.

5:50 pm I receive a text. “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07/07 between 4 pm – 8 pm.”

The supervisor never bothers to call back, which tells you all you need to know about AT&T’s utter indifference to customer satisfaction. I am forced to beg my irritated supervisor for Monday off so I can be there when and if someone actually decides to show up and do something.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A brand new tech arrives at 4pm. He has to be brought up to speed, because God knows his company didn’t tell him what was going on. I feel subdued, apathetic and devoid of even an ounce of fight, which is probably just how AT&T wants its customers.  But the good news is that this guy, bless him, was able to complete the job, and it only took 2 ½ hours. If I had had the strength to pucker, I’d have kissed him.

So to recap, 7 days with an average of 4 hours of sleep, 1 missed day of work, 5 techs (3 of whom looked me straight in the eye and made promises they had absolutely no intention of keeping), and several rude phone calls later, I’m finally back on line. And I get to pay them an installation fee for the hell they just put me through. They ought to be paying me.

Matter of fact, once I’ve regained my strength, I may try to fight that bill. Yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?

att-mad

[Image credit: phandroid.com]

The Best of The View from a Drawbridge

I cannot believe it, but today is the one year anniversary of my blog! What a ride this has been. I’ve managed to post an entry every single day for an entire year. I would have never guessed I’d have this much to talk about.

By writing this much I’ve learned a great deal as well; about myself, about various topics, and about the people who have been kind enough to leave comments on my many posts. I’ve also made a lot of new friends and been introduced to a lot of unique perspectives. I am very grateful for this experience. It has been, and will hopefully continue to be, one of the highest points in my life.

At the time of this writing, I have 168 followers, and an average of 35 views per day. I have received 2,842 comments, and people from 102 different countries have stopped by. And that includes China, which is a country I never expected to see, given the internet restrictions there. Welcome, China! I hope someday North Korea will have the freedom to join you.

My most viewed entry, by a country mile, is Andy Johnson, SHAME on you!!! I guess people are just naturally drawn to descriptions of gross fraud by public figures.

My best title, in my opinion, is Weather, ‘tis Nobler.

My best sentence, without a doubt, is “Barack Obama eats boysenberry aspic on melba toast while doing the watusi in a frothy silk kimono.” That comes from my entry entitled I’m going Slightly Mad. You’ll just have to check it out if you want more details.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to decide which of my blog entries this year was the best, or at least which one is my favorite. This was not an easy job. I went back through every single entry and narrowed it down to four possibilities. From there I asked my friends to give me their opinions, and they were most gracious about taking the time to share their thoughts with me. The feedback was so overwhelming that I feel confident in saying that my best entry this year, by far, was How to give HORRIBLE Customer service.

I wanted to thank you, dear reader, for hanging in there with me this year. I hope that we’ll be enjoying each other’s company for many years to come.

My Stats _ WordPress.com - 2013-11-15_08.24.12

This is a map of all the countries who have stopped by to visit me. The list of countries on the left was so long that it actually scrolls off the page. Woo hoo! (Africa, I hope I’ll be seeing more of you soon.)