Customer Service

At the beginning of every year, my husband and I take a look at what we spend our money on and review things like insurance, subscriptions, utilities, and extras.  This means that we get the opportunity to call the various companies with which we do business and experience customer service.

Customer service = oxymoron.

Now this is not meant to be a rant.  I do experience good customer service from time to time.  I even experience good customer service from off shore entities.  But, since I am so frustrated, I thought I would share some recent customer service experiences that are on the poorer end of the spectrum.

Maybe we can all laugh about this a little.  Someday.  Just not today.

#1 – THE Phone Company

Our neighborhood has U-verse.  The phone box is in our yard.  Our neighbor 2 doors away from us has U-verse.  An engineer came out and decided that we could, in fact, be connected to U-verse.  We have an email that says we can have U-verse.

Unfortunately, our “address has not been validated in the system.”  After six weeks of calling and being promised calls back and numerous tickets being entered to get our address validated so we could, in fact, order the additional service which would mean more money in the pockets of THE phone company, we were told, well you can’t have it after all.  I was left with the distinct impression that they were taking the easy way out and getting rid of an increasingly more irritated and indignant customer.

Now, my 83 year old mother-in-law has also been working with THE phone company.  For about a year now.  Every time it rains or the new subdivision down the street needs a new phone line, her phone line goes out.  When it does work, it is filled with so much static that it is essentially useless for making calls.  Or hearing people on the phone.  Which is the purpose of the phone after all.

On one of her most recent calls to try and get her phone to work, she was told by a customer service agent to get a ladder and climb up on her roof to check her own line.  For real.  They asked an 83 year old woman to climb up on her roof and check her own phone line.

She hung up and called back.  The next customer service person managed to put in an order to have her phone line fixed.  Finally.  A contractor came out and put a new line into the ground.  They didn’t check for utilities first. Whatever happened to call before you dig, it’s the law?  Fortunately, they missed her well.  They didn’t think about that.  Oops.

But, at least she now has a phone that functions as intended.  After a year of calling customer service.  And did I mention, that the phone lines that run through her property to that new subdivision provide them with DSL service, but she can only get dial up?

She did get an automated call asking about her customer service experience.  Boy did they get a piece of her mind.

#2 – Auto, Home, Umbrella Insurance

Insurance.  A necessary evil.  How many years can they use the excuse of Hurricane Katrina to justify double digit increases to homeowner’s insurance?  Last I checked, the insurance companies are doing very well financially.  The shareholders are doing well.  The customers – not so much.

Our insurance company has moved us to a new agent every year for the past three years.  Instead of a local agent, I now have an agent 2 counties away from us.  And he keeps forgetting to call me back.  Unfortunately, I have 2 teenage drivers, one of whom had a fender bender accident 2 years ago.  So, it does not pay for me to switch.  And I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried.

And, by the time I no longer have teenagers, I’ll probably be charged a premium for being too old.  Or having ten fingers and ten toes.  Or having blue eyes.  Whatever – they’ll come up with something.

#3 – The Cable Company

I work part time for a company that has phone and Internet service through the local cable company.  I won’t name them either, but my nephew works for them.  When I talked to customer service to ask about getting some of the jacks hooked up in the office, instead of nicely referring me to an independent company who does this work, I was told to check the phone and data jacks by trying to plug a lamp into them.  What?  Seriously, was this guy trying to come up with a funny story to share at the water cooler?  Hey, I told an old lady on the phone to go plug a lamp into her phone jack!  Ha ha ha.

I did get a referral from a friend to an independent company who successfully took care of our connections for a very reasonable price.

This same cable company also has lines running through my 83 year old mother-in-law’s property.  Yes, they dug trenches through her lawn to install cable lines to provide the new subdivision down the street with the ability to subscribe to their services.  Unfortunately, my mother-in-law does not have access to their services.  It is not available for her address.

I am not making this up.

Unfortunately, even with the elimination of monopolistic phone and cable services, many companies lack greatly in the customer service department.  And I guess they all make so much money already that they do not need to improve their customer service to actually meet the needs of the customer.  Or provide them with the extra services that they want.  Or need.  The customer who is the reason they have any business at all.

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