Sadly, I’m back into some familiar territory in a real-time battle with the American customer service system. This is bureaucracy at its worst and that’s fifteen minutes of my life that I will never get back.
My thought was that I’d just make a quick telephone call instead of trying to do this online. Yeah, sure.
Ring, ring…. The automated system picks up and there’s a familiar click, click, click of the system attempting to recognize my telephone number.
There’s a thought in the back of my mind that this might not go well. I’m calling for another party who’s unable to handle the rigamarole of customer service inquiries. Supposedly, I’m better equipped to navigate this morass.
And it’s a Monday morning. What was I thinking?
The automated system addresses me with a few questions to secure my identity. Now I’m a little bit closer to knowing that this won’t go well, because “we” are going through “my” information, not the information about said other party about whom I’m calling.
“We” go through my balance, which was paid in full, on time. Then, it’s time for my options, of which I’m hoping one will at least vaguely match what I’m calling about. No such luck.
I’m paraphrasing here because it’s become a blur as to exactly what the options were.
Option one: “Do you want to make a payment?” Option two: “Do you need service?” Option three: “Have you moved?” Option four: “Do you need to switch services?” Option five: “Do you have an outage?”
I couldn’t honestly choose any of these options, so I chose Option six: MORE OPTIONS.
Don’t you know that “more options” didn’t provide the magic bullet to help me get to a real person. So, as we all do, I frantically pressed zero in quick succession, trying in vain to outwit the automated system. I wanted to blow-out the system so that it would give up and send me to a person.
Again, not so much. The system simply started over. “We see that you did not choose an option.” “Do you want to make a payment…?”
I’m really not all that dense, but I am susceptible to frustration with inanimate objects that buck my will. At the end of “more options,” I yelled, “ANOTHER ACCOUNT” into the phone, then hit the zero again, about five times.
Like all of us, I thought that if I said it louder, I might get the response I needed. But I blew-out that blasted automated system which then had the temerity to hang up on me. Can you believe it?
My next strategy was to call again but this time pretend to the automated system that it was my account that I was calling about. Then when a live person got on the phone, I’d pull the switch, “I’m really calling about another account, can I give you the account number?”
I couldn’t help but feel sneaky and a little bit guilty about this deception. But it was all I could think to do to get past the automaton. And it worked, I reached Tamyra.
As soon as Tamyra answered, I told her that I needed to speak to her about another account, not the one associated with the telephone number from which I was calling. I went on, as I sometimes do, especially when I’m nervous, to tell her that it was for so-in-so who is having trouble with their service/product.
Tamyra quickly switched paths and asked for the account number, which I provided. Then, it happened, the real person needed more information to verify my identity. Thankfully, my spouse’s name opened the door enough for me to get my foot in.
He, however, had to get on the phone to “allow me permission” to continue with my inquiry. I am a modern woman, and this little quirk of “security” ticks me off quite profoundly. It’s too reminiscent of “allowing the little woman access to big, important things that just the men can understand.” You get my tone?
At any rate, Tamyra moved through her various screens and attempted to process my request, which involved ordering a replacement piece of equipment. Then she said something like, “uh-oh, there’s an error…” and asked me kindly to hold while she did some research. After a few minutes, she came back on the phone and said her computer had frozen and she’d have to transfer me to another representative to follow-through with my replacement order.
I replied with something I thought was friendly and witty like, “Isn’t that like a Monday morning; I hope your computer thaws quickly.” Tamyra met my retort with silence, expressing no sense of humor. God only knows what she was going through, but she clicked me through.
I awaited another representative, but what I got was another automated system with options which as far as I could tell, had NOTHING to do with my obtaining a replacement “box.” These options, paraphrased because there is no way I could translate accurately, might have been presented in a foreign language, so technical were they.
Option one: “Are you police, a municipality, fireman, etc.?” Option two: “Do you need a RNC4F…?” Option three: “Do you need a Q-fitter to replace your X10?” Option four: – I just can’t do this anymore, so I pressed the trusty zero, a few times and the system hung up on me.
God help me!
P.S. After trying online with no path through the security morass, I placed another call, got a person, and was disconnected right at the “let me give you your order #.”
I dialed this now familiar number yet another time, got a guy, went through a dozen options, changed my mind from option two, selection A to option two, selection B and a technician is coming out on Wednesday to install said option.
Now it’s been three hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Oh well, I did a good deed and there’s nothing bad about that.