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Monday, August 21, 2006

Myspace Migration: Customer Service & Other Joys

Current mood:nauseated
Ok, I'm sincerely baffled by the term "Customer Service" and how subjective that term really is. The level of service varies greatly by company, individual and how much you choose to suck up to the person you're speaking to that day. For example, I went into Ann Taylor today. I had purchased a lovely necklace (very delicate and looks great on me!) that broke after the first time I wore it. So, I shoved it in my purse and made a mental note to take it back. Two months later, I finally got around to doing it. I breezed into Ann Taylor, smiled and asked for a replacement. The Sales Clerk (beautiful lady, I might add and I wish I were that put-together) smiled and immediately went through all their jewelry to see if there was another one. There wasn't. I asked her what we should do (always say "WE" - they like it when they think you're in this together, and you kind of are) and do you know what? She took it to a jewelry store and had it fixed. Called me this afternoon and tomorrow I get to go pick it up. THAT, my friends, is customer service at it's best and why I love Ann Taylor.

Here's the contrast. I'm working on my marketing presentations for work in my bedroom. Yes, I did grab a quick one-hour nap, but I was working when this whole scenario began to transpire. The kids run in to inform me that the Disney channel isn't working on any of the TVs. You have to understand, that's pretty much the only channel they're allowed to watch... so this is a big deal to them. And, noone's allowed to play, so they don't know what to do with themselves. They've read and everything, they explain (I decide now is not the time to clue them into the fact they CAN indeed read for fun for longer than 15 minutes, they look panic stricken enough as it is).

So, I call the cable company (secretly wondering if maybe I forgot to pay that bill). Jeffrina (no joke, that was her name) comes on the line to assist me. 25 minutes later, we still are no closer to having Disney, I've found out that yes I did forget to pay them (but that has nothing to do with why we have no Disney, I've got excellent credit with them, she explains... I can go for three months without paying my bill.. make a mental note to self in case I ever get into a serious financial quagmire), and I've got MASSIVE heartburn. Why? Because my bill was $300.
Now, I'm the first to concede I'm bad at mental math. But, I know roughly what I'm SUPPOSED to be charged per month - it's about $130, after tax and 2 pay per view movies. Well, Jeffrina explains to me that I actually did 7 movies over the last 2 months (3.99/movie x7 is a little under $30) - so that's probably why it's $300 instead of $260 (did I mention that we just changed a billing cycle? Well, we did - that's why it's 2 months worth of fees). I patiently explain to her that I've got 2 movies budgeted each month into the $130 fee... 4 extra movies would only run me about $16. So, she goes back line by line. Did I know the only thing I'm missing is Cinemax?? Yes, Jeffrina, and I think about it about every other day when the cool movie comes on the only set of channels I don't want to pay for (but I've got the other 3 and can't justify it to myself... how many movies does 1 person need to see?). No, Jeffrina, I don't want to buy Cinemax today - and how does that help us figure out where the extra charges are coming from?

Well, your base package is $116. "Hold the phone; no it's not. It's $99." Well, you've been paying it for months - like, 6 of them. Crap. I knew there was a good reason to at least LOOK at your bill before you call in to make a payment. "Ok, so don't credit me back for anything; but can you please fix it going forward?" No ma'am, we're a no-contract company, once a special's off your service, it's gone. "Well, isn't that just ducky. So you're basically telling me you can charge what you want at will? Change it whenever the mood suits?" Yes ma'am, I don't want to lie to you - that's basically how it works. Now your DVRs, them are running you 9.99 per month. You have 2. "Hold the phone again. One of those is supposed to be included in my DVR Entertainment package that you're now charging me an additional $17/month for. And the other is supposed to be $6 - I've got it written down." Fast and furiously I flip through my personal notepad where I keep all this stuff (SUCH an improvement over 10 years ago) and look at what I had written down in regards to that order and circle it with my pen, like it's going to prove something to the woman that just said "them are running you," as though that's proper English. Well, it IS $6, but we have to charge you $3.99 for the digital cable box service in order for it to work. "Ok, so then it isn't $6.. it's $9.99. Another price increase perhaps?" I vow silently to start studying that bill as though it were the key to my survival every month. And hey, if they keep upping the prices on the cable bill, it just might be. I couldn't say ma'am; I just work here. Seriously. Yes, she Did. Say. That.

After 25 minutes, I still can't get the math to add up, I'm calmly talking to her about the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (seriously, I was calm, though clearly agitated) and the heartburn is RAGING in my chest. To the point I realize that I need to end this call.. quickly, or I'll literally be sick. So, I ask for my total - it's gone up $40 since we started the phone call. I kid you not. She said, well your current is 300 and your back balance is 40. "So, then I need to pay $340?" Oh no, ma'am; it's 306. "Oh, so the back balance is included in the current balance? Cool." Oh no, ma'am it's not. "Ok, so I DO need to pay $340?" No, your current balance is 300 - your back balance is 40. You only need to pay the current balance at this time. Very slowly and using very small deliberate words, I ask "If I wanted to say - go get satellite and cancel cable - what would I need to pay to zero out the balance?" 306. "Ok. Let me give you my card number." Sometimes you have to know when to just give in - but the only thing she served this customer was a ginormous need for TUMS. And my kids still don't have the Disney Channel.

I should probably get back to work and check on dinner. Will write more later.

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