Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ok, it starts with this

Something’s gone wrong. Let’s say your email is down for the tenth time this month, or the morning paper failed to arrive for the seventh day in a row.

So you make a call and go through the punishing, mind-numbing, soul-zapping, head-splitting process known as the phone tree. And the phone robot says those irritatingly disingenuous words -- “ok,” and “got it,” and “hmmm, I didn’t catch that” -- in hopes you’ll vent all your frustration to a machine.

But no, you’re going to keep your own counsel. You’re going to wait until you reach a real live person, someone of flesh and blood, no matter how long it takes.

Finally, your persistence is rewarded; you’ve clawed your way up to the live-operator queue. A queue with long hold times and looping music that has no beginning and no end.

Then at last a human being comes on the line. “Hello, my name is Matt,”

And ends at Patch.


  1. Actually, I lost it on Matt the other day because his interpretation was that I could not get the information I wanted. I called again a few minutes later and Sally got me the information. Maybe she was afraid to hear what I had to say to Matt. I wonder if they put things in the notes: "Customer yelled at me."

  2. It's a good thing they record for quality assurance/basis for prosecution after using the phone to bless out [Matt]. Otherwise, I would be doing some serious time.

    wv chpica
    That's chickpea spelled inside out.

  3. I've been hung out on a customer service limb many frustrating times. I finally learned to interupt Robo Agent by pressing "O" over and over. I can ususally get to a person sitting somewhere in the "Tree". It may not be the rignt one, but they will connect me to the one I need. Sometimes it pays off to be impatient.

  4. "my name Peggy". oy!

    I purposely went to an IM chat for a problem I had earlier in the year---mostly b/c I wanted text proof of what THEY said to my complaints, but also b/c I suspected (and was right) that tech support was in India and I didn't want to have to go round and round with differences in opinion of English words.

    It was obvious from the start that they have F-key pre-programmed responses "I am also a consumer and I understand your frustration" or "I can understand your frustration, please give me a few minutes to research your problem", came back quickly. Yet when REAL responses were needed, it took much longer for the to think and type a response.

    Of course, at some point, the twit wanted to actually speak with me. Ophukmetilthecowscomehome!
    The part that had me biting my tongue was when he said something that sounded VERY much like "Fucktastic!". Really not sure what he said for about a minute after that, as I was trying hard not to burst out in hysterical laughter. He did NOT mean "FANtastic", I tried that later in the conversation, he did not understand the word.

    Surprise, surprise, it took more than a month to get a basic issue, which escalated to a much larger issue, somewhat resolved.

    "My name Peggy". argh!

  5. It's hard not to take your rage against the system out on those poor folks across the globe, isn't it? Sometimes I ask them where they are and what the weather's like, which doesn't solve my problem but transports me to Manila for a while. They're really nice people who would so much like to come to the US some day.

    Other tips: Dialing 0 sometimes helps to get someone.

    Interrupting the robot voice by yelling Operator!!! over and over again may work but do it when you're alone, else bystanders will think you're nuts.

    If you ever get the option to "Press 1 if you want to buy something", do it. You'll get through immediately and they transfer you.

    I got some amazingly good customer service from Amazon recently. But dealing with Chase Bank when they cancel our VISA cards because one of us spent money abroad and they think it was stolen is a nightmare.

    By the way AT&T lost the use of hundreds of cell phone towers in LA County the other day and they haven't a clue what happened.

  6. This would have made more sense if the link had been working.

    My name Peggy. Guffaw.

    True confessions: One of my fabulous writing jobs was writing scripts for a robo agent that did trouble-shooting. I wanted to preface the whole thing with "You better use me or we'll just send you off to the Philippines."

  7. (sigh) I tend to ask personal questions of when does the monsoon come, where did you go to school, etc. It helps sometimes (that, and speaking slowly)

    OK, I have to admit feigning an Indian accent one time for a collector from overseas.

  8. I'm the designated computer trouble shooter in our home and have been known to spend hour upon hour on the phone with someone in India...most of the time I've had good luck with them...if I didn't understand, they were patient and repeated...but every once in awhile....oooooooh!!!! I wanted to wrap my non existent phone cord around said operators neck!!!

    Re: the ubiquitous phone tree...I swear...they never have the answers to the questions I'm calling to ask...and I can never figure out how to get the question answered automated or not!!! I've tried pretty much all of Bellis' suggestions which sometimes work, sometimes not...I'm totally surprised you got to customer service at Amazon...I can't even find a number to call!!!

  9. As long as the human doesn't say, "Hello, my name is Matt," and you know his name is really "Sidlahartha" or "Quian" because he can't even talk, at least it's a start. I do like Earl sometimes, too; actually, I've had phone company issues and done it a lot.

    wv: disculn. Is that like a discussion, only with Sidlahartha or Quian?

  10. But that is what happens, Marjie. Click on the link.

    Earl and Pierre have good advice. Also, many of the speech recognition softwares are programmed to recognize frustrated responses -- certain choice words beginning with F and S, and will automatically transfer the call to a live operator. Overseas.

  11. For what it's worth, Apple (or Mac) has been very good about this. Their techs speak English like a native, they are patient, they are not condescending. As far as I know, Apple is doing OK for itself in terms of profit. I guess one example doesn't make an argument, but . . .

    As for local government, your argument sounds right on Patch. Of course, then Philadelphia, Mississippi gets its own local government too, and I wonder if that's a good thing for every citizen . . .

  12. @ Banjo...I believe all of Apple's customer service is in the states...part of why Mac's are so pricey!!!

    wv: stagoodi!!! Mac better stagoodi!!!

  13. My persistence was not rewarded. DWP; total labyrinth

  14. This is such a sore subject for me I shouldn't get started. Suffice it to say it's my third job. If I could bill for the hours I spend doing the work I pay others to (supposedly) do, I'd be rich. But I spend an awful lot of time tracking down bills for medical providers, internet providers and phone companies.

    One reason Mac is successful is the entire company is based on the user's experience. Most companies are not--they continually look for ways to cut corners rather than ways to make their customers happy. Other companies would do well to learn from Mac; Mac has more cash than a lot of countries, put together.

  15. We're having a bit of a problem on the comments front. So if your comment disappeared or never appeared, I didn't do it. It's the blogger gods.

  16. US, the country of freedom and hope?

    I know a few countries which have a higher score at the moment.

    No danish, no syrup and no pancakes for breakfast!

    WV: blats

  17. I left a long, thoughtful comment at your Patch article and it got hung up somewhere. Maybe Matt's desk.

    Long story short: Amen, sister. And I had no idea Altadena had such weird governing problems until you started writing about it. I had always assumed it was an incorporated city like South Pas. (Which has it's own problems with governmetn!)

  18. That is usually when the battery on my cell dies--or they put me on hold and I am disconnected.

  19. I wrote an award-winning novella on your blog today, only to have it disappear.

    And Laurie, if you ask Mike Ten, the only problem with South Pas government is those who say there is a problem. Tonight on Patch, he referred to that Watson sacking as "Your problem with Watson and Payne."

  20. My guess is that Matt lives in Bugtussle and works from his diningroom table. Outsourced to somewhere nowhere near your hometown.

  21. Desiree (btw a nice name):

    Have you ever thought of buying a new battery for your cell?

  22. I have read this several times and each time I return to leave a comment, I can't. I wish i could blame Matt or Peggy or the blogger gods, but I can't. It's my non-functioning, sleep-deprived brain.

    Thanks for walking Porkchop yesterday. Anybody want to adopt him? Or how about the gorgeous Louise?

    All kidding aside, please spread the word:

  23. Porkchop???? Another dog up for adoption???

  24. Oh god no. Porkchop is Hiker's name for Tommy.

  25. You know I'm in love with Tommy. Just don't tell Boz.

  26. I won't tell Tommy either. His head is big enough.

  27. "My name Porkchop!".

    Might be better than some of the "help" most of us have gotten!


    I don't have an issue with the folks who really ARE trying to help, I've tried the "where are you located, what's the weather like, had any quakes recently?" with little luck---but my last major issue took more than a month to resolve and they were so incompetent that they couldn't find the part I explicitly described, then took pictures of, emailed to them and found their own documentation online and copied to them...then they shipped me, 3 times, the wrong parts overnight. At that point, I don't care who/what/where you are, you aren't getting the job done!

    Porkchop, without thumbs, could probably do better than most "help" folks, I'm just saying. But don't tell him---that big head thing.

    Mister Earl, you mean there isn't a problem unless you point out violations of the Brown Act or complain of the handling of certain items? Who knew? ;-P Some things never change. Glad I haven't missed anything "new".

    oy freekin vey!

  28. I've recently spent nearly seven months trying to resolve an issue with a medical claim. The "help" was right here in southern California. They were either ignorant, vicious or poorly trained.

    I agree that outsourcing jobs (and especially government) is not only wrongheaded but probably has a lot to do with why our economy is in such awful shape.

    But I've gotten plenty of good help from guys named "Steve" with Indian accents and I appreciate it. Many of these people are doing a good job. They're only trying to make a living like the rest of us. They're not the problem.

  29. I hate to say it Petrea...I think medical claims are doomed to be problematic in resolving...