BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Friday, October 19, 2012

The insanity of customer service

There is a comedic show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called the Rick Mercer Report.  I wouldn't say that I'm a big fan, however, we did happen to watch one episode recently and it had a very pertinent sketch.  (Warning the link directly opens a YouTube video). Anyways, it basically makes fun of the crazy (lack) of service offered by a few telecommunications companies.

Disclaimer: We have been going through a similar experience since moving to Victoria, though our telecommunication choices are limited and the service provider that caused me so much angst is not actually mentioned in the video. Since this blog is essentially my chance to vent all my frustrations, I'm not going to directly mention the service provider at issue.  However, there are very few service providers on the Island, and it wouldn't take long to figure out who I'm pointing my blogging finger at.

The story begins on a sunny day in February, when we first signed up for our telephone/internet service. The man who came to set up our services fit all my quintessential rural Canadian stereotypes. He was definitely of lumberjack stock, and had the easy manner that is often lost by the business of city living. Nikolai was thrilled by all the tools, and he (un)fortunately got to watch the installer for quite some time.  At issue was the fact that the telephone lines in our house were too old to manage the internet feed.  After testing all the telephone lines, he finally found one that was "internet capable".  This one was set up for the internet with the rest being left as basic phone lines.

It took me less than a day to realize that the remaining "basic phone lines" were not actually good enough for a telephone line.  We tried 3 phones and every phone jack in our house before I decided to use my crackly phone line to cancel our service.  The person on the other end of the phone was very gracious.  They noted the quality of service issue for our area and offered me four months of free phone service.

Free was about the right price for the bad quality of our line.  It was nothing that I couldn't get used to, having had plenty of poor quality cellphone calls in my life. However, when we finally ended up with a bill for the phone line in our mailbox, we decided that it was time to switch to a cable based phone/internet service. (At this point in the story it would be good to adopt an acronym for the telephone line based service provider as it will make everything easier to understand.  I think The EX is a good name, so they will be The EX from now on.)

And all was well... the service was switched... and I returned our ADSL modem as directed, via the post office.  It was a great service.  We simply handed the modem to the post office clerk, and received a tracking number for the delivery.  The EX covered all the costs for us!

And all was well... until our next bill (September 15th)... when we were charged a lot for the cost of the modem. So I gave The EX a call to see what was up, and what followed was quite a bit of Kafkaesque dialogue.

-The first person I talked to suggested that I needed to call the post office to ask them about it, since they didn't have a record of having received the modem.
-I called the post office, and the response was dismal. They delivered the item on August 30th, so I would have to discuss it with The EX.
-So I call The EX back and reached a different person. This person told me to wait.  It could take up to 6 weeks for them to process our modem and our bill would vanish at that point.

All was well... until our next bill (October 15th)... which now had interest charges in addition to the cost of the modem.

-Once again, I called up The EX. As before, I was told that they didn't have the modem.  In fact the guy stepped me through the online postal tracking system twice, convinced that I must be wrong about the package having been delivered.  Was I reading the status bar correctly?  Perhaps the package was lost in the postal distribution centre.  But every time I looked at my computer screen everything suggested that the package was delivered on August 30th. Regardless, I was told that The EX hadn't received it, and it was my job to figure out what had happened, or pay the fees.

-Another call to the post office proved to be a useless endeavor.  I was not allowed to pursue the missing package because I hadn't paid for the postage.  At least the post office person agreed with the fact that it appeared to have been delivered on August 30th.  However, since The EX had paid for the postage, The EX would have to open a report on the missing package.

Now I am 7 month pregnant... full of hormones... still bit nauseous after 7 months... and I'm suffering from a good deal of back pain (perhaps a blog for another time).  And I was pretty ANGRY.  So it wasn't with just my usual level of irate anger that I called up The EX... I had turned into the mighty pregnant banshee, willing to turn anyone to stone. And it was a man who was unfortunate enough to pick up the phone in their shitty little cubicle in The EX's  call centre.  He would never understand was it was like to spend months and MONTHS of being sick after breakfast. He wouldn't know the discomfort of spending the past 3 months trying to sleep with pain radiating from your back down your legs.  And he wasn't in training to push a grapefruit sized head out of his nether regions.

And he knew it.  The first thing he said was, "yes. Your modem arrived on August 30th."  The second thing out of his mouth was "I don't know why you had so much trouble with our customer service people".

All the air exhaled from my chest.  I am generally a reasonable person, and I was transformed back into my more diminutive self.

Now I just have a small part of me that lies in wait... for The EX's monthly call.  They want us back, free phone, TV, whatever it will take... and every time I patiently explain to them (as I would explain to a 4 year old) that our phone lines don't work. But the next time they call at 6 pm, interrupting our family dinner, and disturbing our sense of peace... I will be waiting for them... and they will never want to call us again.

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