|Chris Peruzzi writes rants. To see more of his work go to his
Veedle, you are dealing with the telephone company. We are
omnipotent. Omnipotent. That's potent with an omni in front of
-- Lily Tomlin
July 14th, 2002 I got a call
yesterday at 8AM.
I don't like getting calls at 8AM at
work or at home. Obviously, there's nothing I can do about the work
calls but the home calls, I'd like to think that this is an open
invitation to be rude. Normally, I will vent my displeasure at the
calling party unless they are family or a very, very, very, dear
friend. And even then, the calling party should prepare him or
herself for the slew of foggy insults headed his or her way.
Of course, there is always the
emergency as well. The question is how do you define, emergency. I
have a simple rule of thumb. Unless the first sentence in their
mouth has any of the following words, it's not an emergency: Heart
attack, stroke, death, fire, flood, earthquake, famine, hospital,
accident, blood donor, murder, or crazed psycho. Any phone call,
answered by me after the hour of 10PM or before 8AM at home,
better have one of those words. It's a hard and fast rule I have.
There's a time for phone conversation and there's a time for
sleeping and relaxing.
As a commuter to New York, I
regularly get up at 5AM, sleep in the bus for an hour, then get to
work by 7AM. My mind becomes fully awake at around 8:05 and that's
after coffee. So, if I get a business call before 8AM and you are
asking me to be an expert at something, you will be sorely
disappointed. I am functional at 8:05. I am brilliantly intelligent
at 8:30 after my second cup of coffee. I'll even smile. But don't
call me before I am aware.
In any event, I got a call, yesterday
(Saturday) at 8AM. This is a death sentence to the dialer. In my
old age, I find that the experience of sleep is a wonderful thing.
On top of ordinary morning anger this was a full Allegra morning. My
head felt like it had been borrowed to go 9 rounds with Mohammed Ali.* I
could hear snails crawl. I had that dry foggy lint-like feeling that
usually only comes with the worst of hangovers. At 7AM, I went
downstairs, because it was cooler, and I could sleep better in the
easy chair. And finally, when the Advil and the Allegra started to
work, I fell asleep again.
Mggrmmphr. Rssgrmrgrpf. Fgrnashle.
Whothefrgcallsonasatday. Kill. Death. Disembowel.
The caller ID read "OUT OF
AREA". I've been answering these calls to let our telemarketer
zapper do its job. But who knows who this could have been. Usually,
this meant that it was either a relative who had no concept of time
difference or a telemarketer or my father-in-law. A telemarketer
would get no less than a painful death even if I had to hunt them
down to the ends of the earth to do it. If it was my father-in-law,
it would be the same thing only quicker, because I knew where he
"Hello? Is Sherri there?"
No recognition as to the male voice.
Polite so far. I figured that I should stay cool right now and said,
"She's not available at the moment, who may I say is
Skip polite at this point. "I'm
her husband. Who, the f%#k, is this?" If it was a telemarketer
at this point or a credit card company, New Jersey Law says no calls
before 9AM. The abuse train has left the gate.
"It's HRS calling in regards to
her last bill. Can I talk to her?" Stirring from upstairs, my
wife was up.
"Who is it?" She whispered.
"HRS**," I didn't whisper.
After a volley of, "Tell them
this," and "Tell them that." I handed her the phone.
My morning's patience exhausted, I went back to my chair. I caught
bits of "You can't call before nine,", "What do you
mean I'm wrong?" and other arguments. My wife seems to be
getting these calls now. I usually nip them in the bud by saying,
"Let me check my records and call you back." I'll get a
name and an extension to the now poor victim who will get the brunt
of my fully awake abuse.
I don't like telemarketers or
collection agents that can not and will not help me out. HRS is
among the worst. Normally, they are wrong. I had a volley with HRS
going for approximately 4 months on a bill that was paid on time but
they insisted I was late. One of the good things about paying bills
through a debt counselor is that they keep records and can fight
them. Other than that, they suck and I highly recommend that you
never go with one. They are breeding a new brand of stupidity for
collection agents. It seems to be a job prerequisite to be clueless
and uncooperative with the client nowadays.
With HRS, I allow exactly two minutes
of polite conversation before going straight to the jugular. As they
claim to not have a supervisor you can speak to, you have literally
nothing to lose by being impolite if provoked. Especially, when you
know you are right and that they will do nothing to rectify the
situation. And believe me, they will do nothing to rectify the
situation. They only call for one reason it seems, to harass you. If
you are convinced you've already done the right thing and they
aren't listening. Let'em have it. It won't do any good, but you will
feel much better for it. After all, you attempted to speak with a
manager or supervisor, they wouldn't do anything. They only want to
hear one thing and if you don't have that answer - screw'em.
Today's customer service
representatives are the lowest common denominator. Lately, they have
been stupid, nasty, and uncooperative. And why shouldn't they be?
They've called 800 people that day just like you. And 800 times,
they've met with the same response - people screaming at them. They
get low pay and high abuse. What kind of person does that make?
During my tenure at my company's technology service center, I got
abused by professional abusers with something at stake. When their
PC's went down, they were losing millions. So, I understood when
they called my mother the worst names imaginable. I understood when
they called me a worthless sack of pus. I understood when they said
they were going to come over and shoot me. It wasn't me, it was the
The difference was: I knew I was
going to help them, if I could. That was my job. I was part of a
HELP DESK. It is implied that I help them. So - I did. On the
average, I'd help 100 people a day. If I couldn't help them, I
forwarded them to someone who could.
There are the good companies that
sweep their firm of bad representatives. A couple of weeks ago, my
wife got a call from Chase Bank in reference to one of our cars. My
wife made a payment by phone and did not get a confirmation number
from the service. She didn't know if she paid or not. With the
miracle of the Internet, she checked our account online and saw
that the payment was taken out. Technology is a wonderful thing.
Sometime later, I got a call*** from
the Chase Bank collection's department. She made the mistake of
telling me that the call would be recorded for quality assurance.
Once again, I had to do the volley between my wife and the phone
before I handed it to her.**** I heard half of the conversation. It
went something like this:
"I have my bank statement saying
you withdrew the money... What do you mean you want to know when to
expect payment.... Listen, you have a record of me paying you. Why
are you calling me?....If I've already paid you, why do want me to
pay you again?... Can I speak with someone?.... Why not?... Why are
you calling me this late if you can't help me?"
So my wife called Chase the next day
and they were able to rectify the situation. They saw that the error
was theirs and not ours. But that's not the end.
I answered the phone a couple of
night's later.„ It was a supervisor from Chase Customer Service in
their billing department. The very first sentence that came from my
mouth was, "We straightened this out already!" I put him
on the phone with my wife. This is what I get for jumping down
people's throats too soon.
He called to apologize.
After they reviewed the taped
conversation, they were calling to tell us that they were going to
take action against the representative who would not help my wife.
He said that he was available at that time and they had some
problems with that woman. He also added that if she had any other
problems with the account to call him directly and he gave his
extension. That's good customer service.
With the latest trend of going to
third world countries for customer support, it's nice to know that
some companies still have some amount of Quality Service to protect.
And this is home grown quality care, not the imported stuff that's
not as good. Labor in India and Latin America may be cheaper but
there still is a price to pay nonetheless. Once again, be leery of
any company that freely admits the concept of offshore development
for customer support. That usually means they are paying someone
with low living expenses low rates in favor of employing someone
Charming, aren't they?
It's nice to know you are going to
deal with someone who has no clue of what it's like to be living
here and how things work. This is the reason why I prefer to do all
of my customer service bitching in e-mail. It's a lot more thought
out and a letter of complaint will get read, especially if you
attach a read/receipt to the letter.
I did that once with Sears.
I was trying to get my Kenmore vacuum
fixed. While waiting on the phone for literally 20 minutes for
someone at the Newport Center Sears branch, my patience ran out.
With the phone settled on my shoulder, I started my bitch letter. I
mentioned exactly what I was doing as I was composing the letter and
finished it before anyone answered the phone. I stated as it was
11AM and as no one appeared to be at the store to answer the phone.
I asked them if I could have a job as I like to sleep late and those
business hours would definitely accommodate that. I also stated that
with each ring of the phone, I grew angrier and angrier, knowing
that my problem was not getting resolved. It was all written up in
MS Word. I checked it for grammar and spelling errors. I then went
to the Sears home page (www.sears.com), to their comments and
opinions page, and pasted the letter in the text box.
I got a call from Chicago two days
later at work. The VP in charge of customer service called me and
apologized profusely about call truncation and automatic call
distribution. I, who worked customer service at one point and at
that time did reporting for my company, saw it as a load of BS, but
nevertheless, I was happy my letter got to the right place upstairs.
This is something you should remember
in the future. An e-mail letter of complaint is much more effective
than screaming at a mindless automaton.
Someone may actually listen.
* - For the slackers who don't know
or didn't see the Will Smith movie, Mohammed Ali, was the three time
world boxing champ. He was unbelievable to watch and to me is legend
to this day.
** - Household Retail Services, often
the company credit cards go to when their company no longer exists and
they still wish to collect their money.
*** - Why do I always have to answer
**** - A pet peeve of mine. If the
two people who have knowledge and details of a situation are in the
same room or can be put together to talk to each other. I will put
them together rather than act as an interpreter.
„ - WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO ANSWER