“Customer service” is one of my favorite subjects to rant about. It is a plethora of cornucopias of blogging material as well as a buffet of the stupid things that infest our lives. The reason this subject is such a burr under my saddle is that it hits two of my hot buttons. It treats me like an idiot and it wastes my valuable time.
Today’s rant comes under the heading of “how stupid do you think I am?” It’s this putrid patronizing with disingenuous scripts read with as much feeling as a corpse. As if a robotic expression of feigned courtesy is going to make up for ineptness so bad it should be a felony.
So you have talked to everyone you can, Googled until the letters are rubbed off your keys and, after careful consideration, have decided suicide is not yet called for. So you take a deep breath and dive into the cesspool of customer service.
The first thing you get when you call is the phone tree. You have to decide what language you want to speak. You can tell it’s saying “for Spanish press” but press what? It is different with every place you call. One? Five? Nine? How the hell do I know? I speak American!
Trust me, you don’t want to hit the wrong number. You will become hopelessly lost in a sea of Latino gobbledygook that makes the Bermuda Triangle look like a rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike. You may end up talking to a burrito store in Laredo or a drug lord in Cuerna Vaca. In the worst cases there is no recovery. You just have to throw your phone away.
Once you pass the Green Card test, you hear “Thank you for calling.” Thank you? You wanted me to call? Is that why you so colossally screwed up, because you longed for the sound of my voice? Trust me, I didn’t call you as a favor. It is either something that is going to cost me money or deny me the ability to have sex.
“Your call is important to us.” Is it? Is that why you didn’t hire enough $2.50 an hour automatons that speak English like a See-And-Say to answer it? Yeah, I can tell how important it is by the shitty music you are making me listen to. And thanks for the Chinese water torture recording telling me you are still busy every two goddamned minutes. I could not figure that out from the fact that no one has answered yet.
If you are the stalwart type that can endure this torture without jumping out the window, you finally get a human. Well, a reasonable facsimile of one. This robot that poops says, with about as much emotion as an undertaker on prozac, “Hi, my name is Mary (right Indira Ghandi) how may I help you?”
This warms the cockles of my heart. It made it well worth getting a few brain cells melted in Hold Hell to finally reach Mary, a fellow soul adrift in the sea of life. And she wants to help me! There is a woeful shortage of helpful people in the world. Thank gods we have Mary.
Then Mary, in a heroic effort to protect me from some nefarious evil doer bent on discovering how much my bill is, runs me through the rubber hose treatment. I need your full name, billing address, PIN code, mother’s maiden name, the length of your penis. how much toilet paper you used this morning and how you verified that it was enough.
By the way, did you even realize that, when telemarketers from these same companies call you, they just expect you to take it on faith that they are who they are? Mess with them. Ask them for their social security numbers, employee ID, maiden name, favorite sexual position etc. Hey, what’s fair is fair.
Back to our discussion.
I pour out the woes of my heart to Mary while she listens with as much interest as a gay guy watching Deep Throat. Once enough information has soaked into her just learned English last week brain, she can figure out what script she needs to read. “Do you mind holding while I check your account?”
Do I mind holding? Let me think about this. I went through having to verify that I speak the language of my country, listened to two hours of the produce department’s greatest hits interspersed with painful reminders that my life was slipping by, then got the pleasure of trying to communicate with someone who’s native dialect is grunts and clicking. It’s a hard decision but, you know, I think I will hold. Thanks for asking.
So you go through the usual gauntlet, most of which is spent trying to get the third world illiterate on the other end to understand what you are saying. After being told that you are a screw up, it isn’t allowed, or that they cannot help you, comes this: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Anything else? You didn’t help me with what I called you for in the first place. You were about as helpful as a blind bus driver.
Then, after taking hours of your life and a large percentage of your sanity, comes this new thing. “Please stay on the line for a brief customer satisfaction survey.”
What is this for? I have taken surveys, filled out comment cards, responded to online questionnaires and, you know what? Nothing changes! It’s like those error messages your computer gives you: “Windows has pooped all over itself. Would you like to report this to Microsoft?” There is no one at Microsoft reading the millions of error reports coming in every day.
And there is no one reading customer comments. If there was, dealing with customer service would be more pleasant than a root canal without anesthesia.
All of this disingenuous horse shit is some brilliant marketer’s idea. “We will make them feel like we care, like we want to help them.”
Here’s an idea Einstein. How about actually helping us? Or is that too revolutionary?
Please don’t tell me we have devolved to the point where we buy into this. Do we really feel good that our call is important? Do we really think that guy at the store who says “hello” in the same atonal way 6000 times a day is glad to see us? Do we think that Whatever Inc. really cares what we think?
If we do, we have slid past the point of no return. All we can do is wait for that planet killing meteor.