Saturday, February 16, 2008

Encountering The New American Customer Service

A recent escapade involving the customer service section of a major U.S. firm that I suscribe to can only be described as the most exasperating experience that I have had for a long time. Many of you will see yourselves in this piece, and in retrospect, it is kind of funny what I went through. I'm relaying the conversations that I had, and some of the other aspects of the experience to highlight what outsourcing U.S. jobs can do to our quality of life.
It all started when a service that I suscribe to went kaputz. I didn't realize it at first, because I thought it was somthing that I did, or the equipment that I was using. After deducing the problem was not of my own making, I got on the phone to customer service to have them connect me to tech support. Here's what transpired.
Call # 1: The phone rang 5 times before an automated voice started giving me options to push buttons for. After choosing an option, the voice told me that I didn't have to call them at all, that I could solve all my problems by visiting their web site. Yeah. Yeah. I know, thought I, but it didn't help, that's why I'm on the phone, duh. After another round of voice automated options, I waited patiently for almost 30 minutes before a voice that was part English, part Indian, and so low that I could barely hear it said "Please to thank you for calling blank company today, where we give to you the very best customer inside service, my name is blank, what for can I help you with today sir, please?
Me: "I'm having a major problem with my blank service. It isn't working at all. I did a check and the problem isn't on my end, so I could use some help in getting the situation fixed."
Service: "Ok, very good sir, I am understanding you very completely and we are very sorry that trouble is causing you, may I have your telephone number please?"
Me: "555-555-5555"
Service: "And to do security, may I have the last four numbers on your credit card?"
Me: "5555"
Service: Very good sir, and thank you for that information, what problem is bothering you today?"
Me: "Uh, I just told you, I don't have any service, and I performed all the checks that I know that you're going to tell me to do."
Service: "Very good sir, and to thank you again, please wait while I bring up your account"
Me: "Uh, ok." Thinking to myself that why did he ask me for my account info if he hadn't brought up my account yet. I'm on hold for about 3 minutes.
Service: " Please to sir, I believe the problems may be on equipment. Are you minding us run a check?"
Me: " Ummm, ok, but I already did that."
Service: "Please do blankety blank blank blank."
Me: "Ok all done. It's not on my end"
Service: "Ok to you sir. I am not seeing problem from here. I will send in a ticket, and someone will call you tomorrow."
Me: " Uh, is there another number that I can call?"
Service: "Please sir, you will wait for the morning call ok?"
Me: " Well, alright, but I really need this fixed."
Needless to say, the next day went by with no call, nor the next day after that. After talking to three more 'tech' workers from somewhere overseas who had no idea of how to fix my problem other than to send a service ticket in, I was ready to throw my phone across the room.
I decided to try a different tactic the next day. I called the auto voice and told it that I was a brand new customer seeking service from the company. Within 20 seconds, a pleasant American woman cheerfully offered to assist me. Ah ha! So that's the secret!
Telling her my problem, and demanding that she not switch me to India again, I asked if I could speak to a tech support person from my local office. She told me that she would switch me to their U.S. tech support division. Their U.S. tech support division?! Are you kidding me? Whatever. Just anyone who speaks English will be fine.
Getting switched to the U.S. techies, he had me run through all of the tests once again. Grrr,
dang it, ok ok whatever you say I'm thinking, as I do everything once more. Nope, still not on my end I tell him, and after waiting on hold for about ten minutes, he confirms that yes indeed it's on their end after all. Well, saints be praised! Someone who knows what to do I thought. But that went right out the window as he told me that he would have to put in an 'escalation' ticket. No. No. Wait. Don't do that I tell him, just give me someone who knows what to do. Don't worry, this will be fixed by the morning he reassures me.
The next day I call back and get the same pleasant woman on the phone. Sorry to say, I was not pleasant. By now, I am angry, upset, ready to cancel my service, climbing the wall in frustration, and told her that under no circumstances was she to route my call to India.
She connected me to a supervisor who had me relate the entire scenario again. She said she was going to connect me to the 'escalation' team herself, and after waiting on hold at the place she switched me to for almost an hour, I got through to a helpful fellow at some office in Ohio, who promptly told me they had switched me to the wrong division. He gave me a brand new number to call, toll free of course, which I immediately dialed when we hung up. Well, at least I'm getting somewhere I thought, waiting for someone to answer on the other end.
An automated voice began to give me options, and my stomach started to get a knot in it, but I perservered and got through all of the different sounding choices of who to connect to, and after waiting another 45 minutes, a familiar sounding Indian voice answered.
Oh, you're kidding me right?! "Hello to you Mr. Batmanchester, what for the problem is you are receiving today sir?" I hung up.
Finally the next day, I looked online for the company's corporate offices here in the U.S. I went to the Standard and Poors index. I found out who the company CEO was, who their media contact was, who washed their floors. I wrote an article naming the company, their horrible service, their run arounds, the fact that no one knew what the hell they were doing, my experience with them, etc. I entitled the piece, "America's Worst Company" and emailed it to the CEO and their media contact, asking if they would be so kind as to give a comment on the piece that I was going to post online not only on my own blog, but also to 108 web sites, as well as every message board I could find.
Within one half hour of sending the emails, the company's head of customer relations called me. I relayed the entire sordid affair once more. Sounding horrified, he assured me that things would be fixed forthwith. 20 minutes later, the head of my local office called, and stayed with me while he got tech people on the line in a conference meeting. I relayed the story again. I was offered a tour of their facilities. Three free months of service, and needless to say, the problem has been corrected. Call me a cheap whore, but for three months free service, I'm not going to name the company nor what they do.
My point is this. First they told us that they needed to outsource all of our manufacturing jobs in order to make way for the future, which would be service oriented, information industries, and we'd all be prosperous again. But they lied and scammed us with that line. They are outsourcing the information and service jobs to India and Pakistan, leaving us poor English speaking people to whirl around endlessly when we have questions about a product or service, to say nothing of the jobs being lost in that sector now.
This can not possibly be in our best interest, and just this one experience I had with customer service and the result of outsourcing should make that pretty clear. So, the next time you need to get something done, don't bother calling the customer service number. Send an email to the CEO of the company you're contacting. If it worked for me it can work for you. And somehow, we need to make it clear to our elected officials that the pillaging of our jobs must stop. Batmanchester

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