Few things are harder on my aged mind – and temperament – than having to deal with 800 phone calls. Too often people on the other end of the line speak English as a second – or third – language and have a script for “every” occasion that they cannot deviate from without getting lost.

Knowing that you likely have had these same kinds of encounters, I submit these rants in your name – as well as mine – as a sort of consumer bonding.

My latest attempt at anger management started with a call to a national communications company. The first hurdle was “speaking” to a computer for several minutes before getting a live person.

After an inordinately long wait, the person – to whom one of the Asian languages was her mother tongue – began to call me “Riney Rarrit.” Several corrections later I gave up and accepted my new moniker.

The call lasted about 15 minutes during which I repeatedly tried to state the reason for my call – a dysfunctional piece of that company’s equipment. Each time, the voice talked over me and continued with her script. Eventually, somehow, I managed to convince her it was the equipment and not some figment of an old man’s making.

When her script was near its end, she said she would connect me with the business office but assured me she would not hang up. Before I could stop her, she rerouted my call to a mindless, scripted, mechanical voice. And she was gone. Not knowing, apparently, that the business office would not open in our time zone for another half hour. A dead end. I hung up.

I waited until the appropriate time before calling back and going through the long routine “talking” to the computer. After a wait of some 10 minutes, a voice from Utah said he could help. Since it was Utah, I knew immediately there would be another language barrier.

He, too, had his script. He, too, talked over my voice, insisting I listen to all the virtues of this “communications” company and how deeply concerned with my happiness all the folks there were.

I’d been on the phone more than half an hour with two “service” locations, much of that time placed on “hold” listening to interminable recorded messages of how sorry the computer was that I had to wait so long and how important my call was. I also had been contending with a language barrier. At that moment, the Utah guy still had not let me tell him why I was calling or what my problem was.

And here – right at this moment – he made his fatal mistake.

His next words were “Overall, how satisfied are you with our service?” I swear! That’s an exact quote! With all the cards stacked against a temperate, rational evaluation of service provided by this national company, this was the moment the marketing department had chosen to have me rate my experience! He gave me no scale – 1 to 10. No parameters – good, bad or terrible. Just tell him how I felt.

I did. I doubt he wrote it all down. And I further doubt my appraisal will move the marketing department to send along a “thank you” note if they listen to my recorded call.

Though I could tell the Utah voice was sensing my anger and wanting to tell me what I could do with it, “we” arrived at a time for one of the technicians to come to the house several days hence. Of course, the timing for the service call was what HE said it would be.

I’m sure your experiences in this 800 business have been about the same as mine. Maybe after one of these “service” sessions you, too, have wondered if there couldn’t be a better way.

It seems terribly wrong this national company – and many others – would spend millions and millions of dollars advertising their marvelous services and voice their corporate concern for the customer’s welfare, then follow it up with such universally bad personal contact. No matter how many dollars are spent by the marketing department, it is the “service” call – the only point of one-on-one “live” contact between the company and the customer – where the consumer gets the accurate personal data on which to form an opinion. A lasting opinion.

What that tells me is there is either a chimp-level intelligence in corporate marketing or our opinions don’t mean a damned thing. You choose.

Well, that’s my rant. I hope it was good for you, too. If I’m going to drown in a sea of technological indifference, I’m going down shouting a protest to the corporate hierarchy.

You might say “that’s my Qwest.” Or rather, my “Link to the Century.”

Comments are closed.