Is The Customer Always Right?

Remember the old slogan, “The Customer is Always Right”? It seems as if in today’s world, that axiom has gone by the wayside. Nowadays, consumers are encouraged to call toll-free numbers to get customer service assistance. More often this is what they hear:

“Welcome to the XYZ Company customer service hotline. Si habla espanol, pulse’ ocho” or something like that. The caller waits a few seconds until it is safe to speak in English, as if it is a crime in the United States to do so.

The thing about these automated dialing systems once you get past the greeting is that regardless of language they are programmed to prevent you from talking to a live person who can help facilitate solving your problem. So, what good is customer service if you can’t reach them?

As it happens, complainers like me have learned the tricks of the trade on how to navigate through the labyrinth of circular digital detours that end up back to the ubiquitous “or press 9 to start over the menu choices”. The best thing to do is rapidly press the number 0 several times. This will cause the switching system on the other end to figure out that one very ticked off person is holding on the other end expecting to talk to a live person.

When this happens, you hear “okay, you will be routed to the next available customer service person shortly. Please have patience as all of our customer service persons (the two that are not on coffee break) are helping others.” Then there is a slight pause, and you next hear “your call is important to us. Your estimated waiting time is 5 minutes. There are 2 people ahead of you in the queue.” Of course, this does not really mean that you will be connected in 5 or less minutes. You just know that the person ahead of you is going to take fifteen minutes to get his or her issue resolved.

Then there is the other tact that these automated systems pull. A mechanical voice prompts you to
say or enter your 10 digit customer account code. Sometimes this is how the action goes:

“Please say or enter your account number and press the number sign when done”. Or, “press the pound key when done.” Half the people over the age of 60 are looking for a button on their phone that reads “lb”. They have no idea what a pound key is. Sometimes the voice will offer, “press the star button to go back to the menu.” That’s nice, but it ain’t a star- it’s an asterisk, dummy.

On some systems they don’t give you an option to press a validation button to confirm the entry of the account number. When that happens, after a voice actuated entry of said account, the mechanical response may go like this:

“Sorry, we do not recognize ‘one, eight, seven, oops- I mean five, four, no make that five, what the heck’ as a valid account in our system. Please try again.”

After the correct account is entered, the system will acknowledge that you are worthy of speaking with a live human being even if they are seven time zones away from yours. As soon as the customer service rep comes on the line, he or she will say, “Hi, this is Maleek, can I have your name?”

You reply with, “I can understand why. I wouldn’t want yours, either.” The support person doesn’t get the joke so you change the tone of your voice and give him your name as if Perry Mason is asking you to do so on a witness stand.

The next thing you hear is, ”may I have your account number?”
So, you reply with, “but I just typed it into the system so I can get to talk to you? Why do I need to give it again?”

He or she replies with, “we need it to verify who you are.”

“But I know who I am.” So, in order to not lose the call you give him your account number, your social security number, drivers license number and grade transcriptions from college.

Ten minutes into the call you finally get to explain why you bothered to telephone in the first place.
Whether they end up making you happy or not, they always ask you to please fill out a survey if asked
by their company and mention how pleased you were with the help you received over the phone.

This is where you can get even and rid of several days of frustration. You reply, “sure, can I have your name? I’ll also need to verify your home address and mother’s maiden name.”

Thank you, good night and drive safely.

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