Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Your Call is (Only Sort of) Important to Us!"

I open my cell phone bill last week, and after I sift through all of the unrelated junk mail in the envelope, I see that they have "upgraded" me to a new more expensive plan.

They are always upgrading the plans, never upgrading the service.

And this is when my nightmare begins, because now I have to call my cell phone carrier.

They have one of those annoying voice-recognition systems, where you talk to an overly agreeable automated voice. Like the soothing tones could even begin to compensate for the agony of navigating their customer service "network." So polite. Like the voice of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I enter the phone tree, knowing full well that they have designed it at least in part with the intention of causing their customers to become discouraged and give up. But see, I know this, so I am mentally prepared. I will see this thing through. I will not let them beat me! Okay, cell phone carrier: it's go time.

They always tell you that your call is important. Uh-huh. It's just not important enough to like, answer it. "You're call is important." Is it? IS IT? Because it doesn't seem like it after I've been on hold for oh, six hours. I'm beginning to think you don't really mean that. I'd have so much more respect for you if you just told me the truth. "Look your call is important to us, yes, but not enough to hire someone to answer it." At least then I'd have closure and I could move on.

So HAL says, "please enter your 10-digit cell phone number, area code first." Area code first, huh? Is there another way to do it? Maybe just throw it on at the end? Maybe I want to scatter it throughout, is that okay? So I say, "415-555-1234*." And HAL says, "let me make sure I heard that correctly: did you say 4...1...5..."





"Yes," I say. Urge to kill...rising.

Now I get to move on to level two. "Sure, I can help you with that. But first, please enter your 10-digit cell phone number, area code first." Uff, okay. "415-555-1234," I say, rapid-fire. "Let me make sure," HAL says agreeably. Always agreeably. "Did you say, "4...1...5..."

(Pause. Oh sweet Jesus.)


"--Yes," I say. Yes, I fucking well did say that.

Now I move on to yet another menu, and the vicious cycle starts again. Starting to get more than just a little pissed off. This time when it asks for my phone number, I say, "415-fuck you."

"I'm sorry, I don't think I got that. Please say it again."

"415-fuck you!"

"I'm sorry, I don't think..."

I feel somewhat relieved by going all Dick Cheney on HAL, yet it hasn't really gotten me anywhere. (Sigh.) I give HAL my phone number yet again.

Then finally-- miraculously!-- I get to the menu that says, "if you wish to speak to a customer service associate, please press or say zero." So I finally speak to a real live human being. And what is the first thing this guy wants to know?

"I can help you with that sir, I just need to verify your 10-digit cell phone number." I decide to mix it up a bit. I say, "sure, it's 415-555-2341."

"Hmm, okay that isn't the number you entered before--" "

"A-HA! I KNEW it! You guys don't need to get my phone number 4 different times, you're just trying to wear me out. You're probably all sitting around the computer saying, 'ooh, make him do it again! See if he'll do it again!'"

Anyway, I calm down to explain my situation. "Oh yeah, we made that upgrade to your service about 3 weeks ago."

"Oh...but I didn't order that."

"Well, we changed our packages. When you signed up, you had three hundred fifty minutes, with unlimited nights and weekends. Now we only offer two hundred fifty or five hundred minute plans. When we changed the packages, everyone who had the three-fifty was bumped up to the five hundred automatically. And now you automatically get free roaming in Hawaii and the Northern Marianas Islands."

Oh, sweet corn! Because those roaming charges on my visits to Saipan and Tinian were killing me.

"Well, I don't want to be bumped up. I want to be bumped down."

Then he tells me: "Well, I don't know if I can process that, but I can put in a request for it."

Look, I'm paying for something I didn't order and don't want, and you're saying you can put in a request for it? Like you're doing me a favor? Say, I have an idea! You know how you did this in the first place? Without my permission? Yeah. Now do the opposite of that.

"Well, is there a supervisor I could speak to? Would that help?"

"I don't think so. But I can have someone call you back about this, definitely."

"Okay thanks, I'd appreciate that."

"No problem. Now, what's your phone number?"

*415-555-1234 is not my real phone number.


At 7:29 PM, Blogger 'nilla said...

i swear I did not try to call this man. cause like that would be wrong and I love Kristy and stuff.

but um. that is NOT is real phone number. *wink*

At 1:06 AM, Blogger haji-o-matic said...

UMmmmmm...I set up that program as a prank in college...I didn't think anyone would USE it.

At 5:53 AM, Blogger Changeseeker said...

Two gold stars. Which is like two thumbs up. Only better.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

axl rose doesn't even know his own phone number. fancy that!

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

ok, so like - ALWAYS try pressing 0 first. Usually, it doesn't work. Try it anyway. In place of what the computer asks for, curse instead. A lot of times that will get you through. Or say, Help, repeatedly, over and over again. That works too sometimes.

Secondly, a callback is not an OPTION. You say, I want to talk to a supervisor NOW. Actually, get the person's name first, otherwise they will put you on hold and purposely disconnect you. Then insist on holding til they get one for you. Be an asshole. I mean really, bumping you up? Without your permission and without notice? Please.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I always thought it was strange that the live person ONCE AGAIN asked for your number. I didn't think about how they were just trying to mess with my mind for their own sick pleasure. And also, WHO ever wants to pay more money for something? Why would they think you wanted the upgraded plan? Did you put yourself on a list saying -- When the upgraded plan comes, I'm in!? Doubt it.

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Although someone already told you about swearing, i'll give you a snippet of my own experience. my cell phone provider used to have a HAL named Claire. That's right. She had an actual name. As in, "Hi, this is Claire, your automated service representative. Tell me how I can Help you. You can say things like...." But talk to a real person is never one of the "things you can say." So i go through all the stupid menus, i spend hours on the phone (racking up my bill, which i'm sure they aren't unhappy with), when finally Claire says "I'm sorry, it sounds like you're having trouble."

So I say, "Oh Claire, you fucking cunt!" and I'm not one to use the C- word.

She goes, "I think a representative could better assist you."

Though I sincerely doubt it, let's give it a shot, Claire.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

Ok, this chick Melissa is my kinda girl! That is EXACTLY the type of thing I say to the computer. And then I laugh to myself and HOPE that someone somewhere monitors the automated line so that all of my supreme comedic brilliance is not lost on the fucking automated "assistant." Way to go Melissa!

See Ish? That's how its done.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Ish said...

You guys! I *told* HAL to fuck off, but he wouldn't do it! All I got was that, "I'm sorry..." bullshit. Maybe I didn't use the ahem, *magic* word. (And I don't mean please.)

I must have missed this part:

"If you need to speak to a customer service representative please feel free to call me a cunt at any time."

I have to listen more carefully...


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