Thursday, January 31, 2008

Customer service - Yeah, right

Not to sound like Andy Rooney here, but did you ever have a problem with a company’s customer service department? Sure you have. Some companies do a better job than others, and it’s like manna from heaven when an actual person answers the phone, rather than those recorded people who invariably direct you to someone who can’t help you. I recently had quite the time with a well-known telephone and media conglomerate. At long last, folks in my rural area gained the ability to get high-speed Internet service, and I was on that like white on rice. That part was pretty easy, probably because I was buying something from them. The necessary adjustments were made to my phone line in short order, and a box with the needed equipment arrived quickly. The missus quickly set about installing the new doo-dads (she handles all the high-technology stuff; my last great technological breakthrough was figuring out how to defrost something in the microwave at half power), and after a couple of adjustments, it worked like a charm. Now came the hard part: Because of the upgrade, I no longer needed a call-forwarding service when I was on the Internet, and I easily canceled that. But I also no longer needed the phone company to forward calls to this service, and getting that changed was about as enjoyable as oral surgery. After many, many phone calls and hours on hold waiting for various people who, again, couldn’t actually help me, I finally accomplished my goal. I vowed not to go through this again, so I decided to register my account so that I can manage my own phone, TV and Internet services online, without the need to dive again into the seventh circle of customer service hell. Another mistake. I went online to register and found that I would need a special PIN number to accomplish the registration. OK, they promised to mail me one, and it arrived a few days later. Now confident that my goal was within reach, I returned to the Web site, plugged in the PIN and was told that it didn’t match the one on file for me, and that I could NOT register without the correct PIN. Sadly, I tried to call them. After a half-hour on hold, I gave up, went to their customer service Web site and begged them to send me a helpful e-mail. The customer service lady’s response was that I should make sure to hold down the caps key on my keyboard when typing in the PIN. That was it. No further instructions. I sent back an e-mail explaining that, since I’m not profoundly retarded, I was able to recognize and type in capital letters, which I had done. I also told them that unless they would send me an e-mail or call me back with a useful PIN number, I was washing my hands of the whole mess. To my surprise, someone called me back with a PIN number … at SEVEN A.M. Now, mind you, I work until midnight and generally don’t go to sleep until 2 a.m., so 7 in the A.M. is pretty early to me. But, you say, why not just ignore the phone and roll over. Might be easy for you, but I have three dogs that really, REALLY want you to answer the phone each and every time it rings. So, as I write this, I’ve been up since SEVEN A.M. I’m afraid to try the new PIN number, because if it doesn’t work this time, the next place you might see me is on “Cops.”



Blogger PRIguy said...

It would be interesting to know the company that gave Brant such a difficult time with his new technology. I recently made similar changes at my house and my experience was much, much different.

I had basic cable through a giant company. The name sounds very much like Kom Kast. The first sign of trouble with this company was when it decided that HBO no longer would be available with the basic package. Instead, it would be shown in digital...but I would have to buy the converter as well as pay more per month for a service that for several years was free. What was really irksome about this was that the change was to be made one day before the series finale of the Sopranos. The public outcry was tremendous, and the company agreed to change the date to the day after the finale. As time went on, a channel here and a channel there came up as static. Eliminated from the lineup, again, to become digital. After the seventh station was canceled, I switched to a different provider, one that rhymes with "horizon."

I can't say enough good about my experience with this company. I get an expanded digital lineup, high-speed internet and phone service. For less than what I was paying. I also received a $200 gift card for joining. I talked to the man who installed my system a couple of times when I had some questions and was treated with nothing but respect. He was helpful and told me to call any time...that's what he was there for. Now the former company is sending me mail trying to get me to come back to their service. Ain't gonna happen. Sooner or later, that company will realize that competition creates options and if the company is not ready to stay one step ahead, they lose business. Customer service is what makes or breaks a business, and more and more people expect stellar customer service. It's too bad some of these companies haven't figured it out yet.

February 6, 2008 at 1:36 PM  

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