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Thursday, 09 September 2021


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You nailed it, Mike.

Hmmm, sounds like genuine "capitalism." You know, deregulation carried to its extreme. Customer service? Who cares about that? Look forward to more of this in the upcoming years.

You and I would pay more for the product made and supported in our own country. But you and I are in the absolute minority.

Most folk are shortsighted. Cheap. And too poorly raised and educated to realise that when you act in pure self interest, the world gets a little bit worse. Multiply that by a few billion and we all end up here.

Can't fight City Hall Mike. Or the consequences of greed unabated. Not if you want to stay sane and happy.

Might be time for some fresh air and sunshine and a belly rub for your lovely dog.

They learned that from tech companies' "help" & "contact us" menus. I don't know how many times I have been run around Robin Hood's Barn 15 times trying to get a question answered only to end up where I started. They all do it. The intent is to keep you from bothering any of the humans by enmeshing you in a web of computer responses that avoid answering until you give up and go away, which you did.

I experienced something merciful, compared to Kirk's experience. Calling the IRS, I went through a phone tree for about 5 minutes, and was told "due to high call volume, we are not processing that kind of request at this time."

You tried to call an airline, didn't you?

Almost daily, Karen and I have this conversation about how all the systems around us are falling apart. Customer service has become a cost center to be outsourced to people who, as you note, have been trained to frustrate you into submission.
Yesterday I went through that with Network Solutions, my web and email hosting service, which has again changed their systems causing me perhaps 3 days of work to fix. Their tech person could barely speak English - obviously he had not been to the school in Bangalore where they teach them how to speak without an unintelligible accent - and after I complained about the lack of a work-around on their part, he put me on "infinite hold."
Today Karen had a similar problem with the online pharmacy (OptumRX) she uses. It will not provide the name-brand drug she must have for her glaucoma without drama. The order they supposedly entered yesterday disappeared - only discovered by accessing the credit card online. She initiated another order. Let's see what happens now.
And today, it took almost an hour to get an answer as to why after 4 years my Frontier landline and DSL bill increased by 50%. Turns out they added services I did not order. Tomorrow they will try to talk me out of. cancelling the whole thing, I bet.
All this reminds me of a foul-mouthed salesman I worked with 50 years ago. He used to say he used the "4F" method of sales:
Find 'em, Finger 'em, F**** 'em and Forget 'em.
Don't it seem that is the motto of many companies we have to deal with.
(Apologies for being so crude, Mike, but it's one of those days....). Feel free to delete the post, but it sure did feel good to vent!

In the UK there is a web site that offers 'short cuts' past the selections, to get to a human? Is there similar in the US?
For us, many use the '0' selection to bypass the call system.

Here an alternative: would you rather have a chat with a robot first (who could say solve 40% of all problems), and then only then perhaps escalate to a human? I probably would not replace all forms of human contact with a robot but would it have helped in your case?


Lucky you, you get a phone number. Many sites now don't offer that or an email address in some cases. I got a text from my hospital reminding me of an upcoming appointment. I needed some clarification but the text says 'We don't accept replies to his message' Took me 30 minutes of digging to make contact.

I've certainly experienced this but I've also found that the phone is no longer the best avenue for support. I had a new inexpensive lens develop a focus issue. Small company/importer of a Chinese lens. My expectations for resolution were low but I sent an email to support and got a response in four hours! With an RMA number! Two weeks in the shop and free return shipping and the lens was back and working flawlessly. This is a photo example of one of several warranty issues in Covid times. Sometime the email has led to a call from customer service for 1:1 resolution from someone who clearly knew the product. I found it refreshing and given that none of these were urgent very easy to work with.

My interactions with the IRS, well, not so good. I just got a form letter saying "one of my calculations" in "this range of the w2" was wrong and to send them money. I use computer based tax software so it seems unlikely the calculation was wrong, but given that the amount asked for was not Kirk's car level payment but "merely" a fancy dinner out for two, I paid online - no "we never received your payment" that way - screen shots in the tax folder.

"I attempted to make contact with any living organism at the IRS"

If only there were any living organisms at the IRS...

"Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed".

Ever ask "When did they change"?

I do and no one ever knows. Or even knows what was changed.

Whenever I hear, "Listen carefully as our menu items have changed," I want to scream, "Who's changing all the menu items?" And "No, they're not changed, you're just trying to trick me into paying attention!"

And whenever they say, "This call may be recorded for quality purposes," I will often say that same line to the operator who answers my call. Gets better results, I find! :-)

Excellent description. And mind you it isn't a typical US problem, it is global. Same method used in my small european country. Made me laugh, well sort of a forced laugh.

Many years ago I worked in tech support fielding customer calls.

What kind of device are you using? What is it called? What do you use it for?

We don't make anything called a (.......) Do you have a model number? No. Serial number? No. How do you use it? We don't make anything that does that. How long have you had it? Don't remember. Where did you buy it? Flea Market.

I'm sorry. I can't help you.

Then THEY get mad.

My wife was fond of saying I was featured on every phone call ever "taped for training purposes."

I don't understand why they play that annoying music. Why not relaxing nature sounds--waterfalls, thunderstorms, night sounds? Wouldn't it increase the odds that callers are a little less annoyed by the time they get to talk to someone?

Actually, on second thought, never mind. Leave the nature sounds alone. I don't want to go to an actual waterfall and then have that long wait on the phone come to mind.

Sorry Mike, I couldn't get through your post. Oh, you're a great writer, but after reading a few paragraphs, my blood pressure approached boiling point. I've spent nearly five hours this week on hold and probably another couple hours navigating nested menu options that ultimately resulted in zero satisfaction. ... The mere thought of having to call an 800 number for customer support makes me cringe.

Fantastic post, Mike. And sadly I guess 100% of us have felt exactly the same as you in this case.

All totally and utterly true. Internationally applicable. I write this as someone with one foot in the UK and the other in Singapore. Just the same. But now with Covid as a 'reason', my doctor's practice is playing the same game. Don't mention my broadband provider. Apple and Adobe are pretty bad. It makes you tired. I suppose that this obstructionism is a disincentive to people wanting to call in: if they employed more staff on the phones, it would simply mean that more people would phone in, and the 'problem' would be replicated on a larger scale.

You forgot the boiler plate "I can help you with that*" which seems to be used by almost every call center.

*Whether than can or not.

Mike, you left out "Please listen carefully, as our options have recently changed.”

Someone must be in charge of changing them every week.

If you want both to have plentiful cheap things and services and to pay humans reasonable wages then this is what you will need to accept. Would be nice to have vast army of very poorly-paid servants (or, well, I should not say slaves, but yes, slaves) who will assist you and this is what, if you had money, you had in 1900 and perhaps into the 1950s and beyond. Today, well, people in first-world countries are expensive so you can afford less of their time, and this is a good thing.

Mike, take a look at this:



I listened to most of it. And found it funny.

You know whats worst?
If you're also a long time customer of a company that spoiled you with their excellent customer service. In my case, its icetrikes.co and like a member of the Bentrider forum wrote a few years back: "If there is a company with better customer service than ICE Trikes, I don't need it." Their German/EU importer (Iceletta) is even trying to top them.

And then you try to deal with any other company, and its a complete customer service disaster. Actually, if I encouter the usual bad customer service, I'll never buy from that company again.

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