Never Say Die

I recite both my order numbers. For the third time. I explain why I have two.

I recite both my customer numbers. For the third time. I admit that I have no idea why I have two.

I verify both my first and last name. For the third time.

I explain my problem, but only for the second time. I was cut off once.

Oh, that’s a technical problem. I’ll transfer you.
– Customer Care Agent

Or not. But usually the transfer works, albeit after a period on hold during which I’m relieved to hear that they value my call and not surprised to hear that all their agents are busy with other callers. Because their customer-care [sic] system has no way for them to pass notes of previous conversations along with the caller, when someone finally rescues me from the queue, I start again.

I recite both my order numbers. I explain why I have two.

I recite both my customer numbers. I admit that I have no idea why I have two.

I verify both my first and last name.

I explain my problem.

Oh, that’s a Customer Care problem. I’ll transfer you.
– Technical Agent

And so it goes for an hour. Or is it two? I speak slowly and distinctly to be heard over the kid and TV noise in the background: These Agents are working from their homes. I listen as hard as I can to hear most of what’s being said to me.

I explain why the company changed some hardware in my first order; I say that I did not change anything else in that order. I say it again. And once more with feeling.

When I get cut off, I call back. When I get transferred in error to an American Agent who can’t see my file, I wait on hold — again — for a Canadian Agent.

Oh, that’s a customer-care/technical problem.
I’ll transfer you.
– Technical/Customer-Care Agent

After an hour — Or is it two? — I can recite my order and customer number(s) by heart. I explain as clearly as I can to every hapless Agent that changing my laptop order to omit software that I have paid for:

  • Was not authorized by me
  • Is not acceptable to me
  • Will not stand

When I finally persuade someone to transfer me to a supervisor and the transfer works and the call with that supervisor is not cut off, I go through it one last time.

I recite both my order numbers. I explain why I have two.

I recite both my customer numbers. I admit that I have no idea why I have two.

I verify both my first and last name.

I explain my problem.

And here, finally, is someone who understands. Someone who understands that the company has failed me, their customer? Someone who understands that what they did is akin to fraud? Someone who understands that I am right?

No, it’s better than that. It’s someone who understands that if a caller has managed to get through the maze of the customer-care [sic] system to him and is not actually foaming at the mouth, then this is #ACallerWhoWillNotQuit. Someone who understands that it’s time for the company to just take the hit, and who is authorized to do so.

Ma’am, would you like to return the laptop
for a complete refund
or take a cash credit for the software?

I’ll take Door #2, thanks.

Did you need my order and customer number(s) again? No? All right then. Have a nice day.

And don’t even think about stiffing me on the credit. You know I’ve got your number.

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14 Responses to Never Say Die

  1. Pingback: Can We Hold on Through the Night? | Traditional Iconoclast

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Wow! Been there, done that.
    “Your call is important to us.” Yes, indeedy.
    “This call will be monitored for quality and training purposes.” You betcha.

    Why do we have to get transferred to a supervisor to get what we were entitled to in the first place?

    Why are we surprised when, or if, we actually get “customer service” from customer service?

    Thinking about your lead column, there’s often no “morning after” to these things. You lucked out. This time.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – 🙂 Some luck, some persistence. My next step was to write the president of the company and post the letter online. Although we have less leverage with big companies who don’t seem to rely on repeat sales, that’s balanced to some degree by our ability to make a public fuss.

  3. Ian Hepher says:

    Oh boy…so typical. When you make such calls, you have to have something else to do to while away the time. And then make a note to yourself to remind you who it is you are calling, and why.

    There are some exceptions, and I always compliment the agency and the person who answers the phone.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ian – Yes, thank goodness for speakerphones. I can do computer stuff – or even make a meal – while on hold. A sanity saver, for sure.

  4. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. If only one came away from these encounters feeling squeaky clean!

    The tendency to use robotic “screens” during the initial steps to problem-solving is counter-intuitive. The human brain has much better screening abilities than those FAQs pages and should be positioned at the beginning of the system, not near the end with a “supervisor.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Well, I guess that if customer service were the aim, they might take you up on your suggestions and insights. I suspect that cost control is the driving force.

  5. Marion says:

    Oh and by the way, that thing about calls being recorded for bla, bla, bla: don’t count on those recordings being available, should YOU need to prove/confirm something. I had a billing conflict with Enbridge years ago that devolved into a she said/I said thing and then I suggested that they check those recordings and then they’d see that ‘she’ never did tell me I’d be charged for that. Sadly, after a few weeks of back and forth I realized that it just wasn’t worth it for them to go and find my recording, if in fact it was possible to find ONE recording down in that rabbit hole, and truthfully, I gave up on that battle as it wasn’t worth my time, at the time. These days, now that I have more time, in the interests of ‘science’, I would continue pressing for the search to go on.

    • Tom Watson says:

      If your scientific research on this subject is concluded to your satisfaction, I can offer another for you to take on: Why is it that the people we want to phone us back often don’t, while those we don’t want to hear from at all are frequent callers.

      Nice guy named Eddie phones me pretty much every week. “Hello sir, this is Eddie, from the duct cleaning service.” And I say, for the umpteenth time, “Hey Eddie, how many times do I have to tell you that I live in a condo, so can’t avail myself of your services?”

      In the interest of science, I’d like also to send Eddie some memory pills. Or at least a note pad so he could keep track of where not to phone.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marion – Yes, the whole issue of comparative cost is a problem: a small loss for you is a large loss for them when multiplied over many customers. I suspect the same logic applies with insurance claims: Automatic denials of coverage are good business at a superficial level. Many claimants will give up. Maybe we need the consumer equivalent of the collection agency.

  6. I would feel more valued if that message didn’t come on every time you phone any company. Along with, “We are experiencing a higher volume of calls than normal.” When is normal? We all know that call centres are managed by data driven softwares, thus keeping staff below “normal” all the time. Wouldn’t want the clerk to be un-busy for a moment.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Indeed. A local commentator, John Robson, sees these sorts of lies (and the platitudes politicians blather too often) as bad for society because they lead us to accept untruthfulness as normal. Speaking of normal . . .

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