Customer Service from Hell with a Happy Ending (maybe)

Mission: determine when the cell phone contract with an undisclosed service provider expires and if it is transferable to a certain city on the left coast and, if so, will it, uh, you know, *work* out there. I do not normally negotiate the cell phone plans around here, I just pay the bills, so I began this little mission with much trepidation.

  • Dum de dum de dum. Spent approximately a half hour exploring the phone provider’s web site. Could not find the contract expiration date. Could not determine whether service was available in said city due to a low-definition map without significant color contrast.
  • Tried to do live chat with a customer service rep. It took forever to load. Gave up.
  • Located the “contact company” page and dialed the customer service 800 number.
  • Was prompted to enter either the Landfill land line number or “customer number.” Customer number? I don’t even know what eez that! The land line number was not recognized by the system. Hung up.
  • Tried to locate the customer number on the web. No luck and we don’t get paper billing statements so I couldn’t look at those.
  • Dialed the 800 number again and tried entering the cell phone number on the off-chance that it was the same as the “customer number.” No such luck, it was not recognized by the system.
  • Dialed “0” hoping to get a *person*. “That is not a valid option.” But the electronic person went on to list some choices. Couldn’t figure out which choice was what I wanted. Hung up.
  • Perused web site and figured out that “2” was *probably* the correct choice.
  • Dialed the 800 number a third time, going through the futile exercise of entering the unrecognizable land line number again, then entered “2” in response to the electronic choices.
  • Went through a series of instructions and prompts and became ecstatic when the electronic voice offered “contract expiration” as a menu choice. Became even more ecstatic when it asked me for the last four digits of the SSN and then said, “I’m getting a representative.”
  • Waited six minutes, listening to off-the-hook-type telephone sounds. No muzak, no voice to say, “thank you for waiting, you are 86th in line,” or whatever. Dead phone line? I hung up.
  • Dialed the 800 number a 4th time, went through the stupid prompts about the unrecognizable land line number *again*, then entered my preferred menu choice “2” *without* waiting for a prompt.
  • Got a bizarre message saying, “to reach your local phone company, look in the phone book.” Say what?
  • Pressed “0” in desperation and got the miraculous message “waiting for a representative.”
  • Muzak and voice updates this time and, after three minutes, Voraya came on the line. I can deal with heavily accented English OR a crackly phone connection, both together is just a little much. Sigh.
  • After listening to my complicated quagmire of questions, Voraya stated that I was in the wrong place, that I needed *cell* phone customer service. I pleaded insanity and she said she would transfer me to the proper place, giving me *another* toll-free number in case I got disconnected.
  • I was returned to the twilight zone menu that got me to the dead phone line before but, having nothing to lose at this point, I soldiered on.
  • This time, instead of choosing “contract expiration,” I chose “help me with something else,” and then “representative.” The electronic voice once again told me I would be transferred.
  • This time, the line didn’t sound dead, there was muzak and a voice told me I would have to wait less than three minutes, then came back intermittently three more times to say, “thank you for waiting.”
  • Finally Aurora came on with a very familiar accent. Aboot? *That* language I could understand.
  • My questions were relatively complicated because I only had the faintest idea of what the heck I was talking about. We had a few false starts and miscommunications but at the end, I had enough information to move to the next step.

And then, I asked Aurora what I labeled as an off-the-wall question: “Are you Canadian?” Yes, indeed, she was. I told her that my grandparents were born Canadian and that I had grown up in Sault Ste. Siberia, MI. She replied that she was born in Sudbury and grew up in Sault Ste. Siberia, Ontario and was now living in the west. I told her about the beach and how I could see the Sault, Ontario area from there.

By the time I got to Aurora, I was a little bit uptight but we parted friends. It was *almost* enough to redeem the company from customer service badness. But no cigar.

The next hurdle is to find an employee at one of the company’s stores who actually has a clue about what Aurora told me we had to do…

3 Responses to “Customer Service from Hell with a Happy Ending (maybe)”

  1. Webmomster Says:

    *611 gets customer service for Verizon; but dunno if the “undisclosed” company has a similar type of access….

  2. Webmomster Says:

    …read the rest of it; outsourcing to other countries where North American English is NOT the primary language is poor business practice when the primary customer base is North America…

  3. acourtois Says:

    In this particular case, the whole customer service experience was sorely lacking. Even way back when, before the internet, when I worked at the EPA (and even Tempo), my focus was customer service. Why? Because when our customers had a problem, it was ME who heard about it. I am able to put myself in other people’s shoes and I always tried to figure out how to solve their problems, if not make them happy. Sometimes that’s impossible but sometimes if you explain –clearly — to people why you can’t give them immediate satisfaction, they will work with you.

    In this case, the customer “service” system seemed like it was designed by a bunch of software engineers who never tested it. The ladies I talked to were relatively helpful. It was the system was f****d up. Wonder if there’s a career in test-driving such systems and making recommendations 🙂

    rant rant rant!!!!