AND THEN HE SAID …

I’m on the phone with CVS. My husband’s prescription had never made it to wherever it needs to be to become a bottle of pills he can purchase and take home. It started when we went to see the doctor about the spider bite, a week ago tomorrow.

His doctor wanted to give him a stronger muscle relaxant because the leg is troubling him. And anyway, the one she usually prescribes, Medicare will only cover half the amount he needs. But, it turned out they wouldn’t cover the substitute at all. So, it was back to the original script.

Which never (apparently) made it to the pharmacy. The doctor’s front office forgot to send it. Again. Or CVS lost it in a pile of faxes from a zillion doctors. Again.

It turned out to be even simpler and more bizarre. What really happened? The doctor’s office faxed the prescription, but the fax telephone line at CVS was overloaded. The prescription, stuck on the electronic waiting list, timed out. When I called this morning, they said they hadn’t received it. They hadn’t because they never clear their lines or empty out the memory of the machine.

Eventually, the manager called me. I had not complained, but I probably had that “unhappy customer sound” in my voice, a tone they have come to know and love.

I said: “The problem seems to be that your fax line is overloaded and the doctor can’t get through. Have you considered adding another line and another machine? It wouldn’t cost you hardly any money and it would improve your relationship with customers and doctors too.”

lightbulb idea

“That’s a good idea,” he said. “I could run that past corporate. It would be inexpensive and solve a lot of problems.”

Right. This being a longstanding and well-known problem, why do they need me to tell them? Isn’t this something the manager could figure out?

As in “Duh!! Our fax line is so busy doctors can’t get through and patients don’t get their prescriptions in a timely fashion. We need another line! Another fax machine!

Personally, I’ve gone back to getting paper scripts. I hand them to the pharmacist, just like I used to in the old days. Ninety-nine out of a hundred times, I actually get my prescription. It’s a miracle!

Progress doesn’t always move forward. Sometimes, it means going backwards and taking technology out of the loop.

ANOTHER DISSERVICE EXPERIENCE – FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT AT&T

This is a verbatim of the tail end of an endless day of trying to get accurate information about what is included in my AT&T wireless plan and how much it costs. Garry was afraid I was going to have a stroke and die. The telephone was horrible and we returned it, another long and tedious tale.

I had gotten emails from them with a variety of wrong plans for phone numbers that were never ours, or which were disconnected years ago — for long discarded telephones. Every email had incorrect prices. I had gone beyond frustration to frothing-at-the-mouth rage.

Q7 and lenses with cell phone

Agent : I see, thank you for all the information, Marilyn.

Me : And in return, I get what?

Agent : I have checked all my resources here, and the email that was sent to you contains the updated information of your new plan and the device that you have purchased.

Me : I do not want one of your generated documents. I want a real document. A simple typed email will do nicely, one that details the account and purchase information. Accurately. Without any wrong numbers. All you sent was a link to the online information which has no details. I want an actual document. Do you understand?

Agent : Yes we do understand.

Me : After all you have put me through, someone can sit down, and type out the information into an email, sign it with a real name and a return address, and email it to me.

Not links. Data. Accurate data. Correct numbers. The right account, the right plan, the right phone.

Agent : As much as we would want to send a typed email to you, we don’t have the record, because as what we have here on our end, we can only see the last order that you made and that is the Nokia Lumia.

Me : I WANT THE PLAN DETAILS. THE PLAN.

THE PLAN. YOU KNOW, THE PLAN? Not the phone. The plan. P – L – A – N. I changed the plan today. Surely you can see that?

Agent : Your current plan right now on line XXX-XXX-XXXX is the Mobile Share Value Plan 300MB for $20, Mobile Share Value iPhone w/Visual Voicemail $25 a total of $45/month before taxes.

That will be your monthly recurring charges,Marilyn.

Me : That isn’t our phone number.

Agent : Oops! Sorry …

Me : And this includes texting? Because it doesn’t SAY so.

Agent : Your line is XXX-XXX-XXXX and your current plan is Mobile Share Value Plan 300MB for $20/monthly before taxes.

Me : $20?

Agent : This Mobile Share Value Plan 300MB includes unlimited text,unlimited international text from U.S to over 120 countries, unlimited talk, sharable data of 300MB, mobile hotspot feature.

Me : And the $45? If the plan is $20 … what is the other $25?

Agent : Sorry again, my mistake.

That is Mobile Share Value Plan 300MB for $20 and Access fee charge for the device for $25, a total of $45/monthly before taxes.

That is now the accurate plan details,Marilyn.

Me : Can I get a transcript of this call for MY records please?

Agent : Yes, Marilyn. You may.

Me : Thank you. I am so tired. You guys are trying to kill me.

Agent : So that you may use this as the basis for the plan change that you made today. We sincerely apologize, Marilyn.

Me : Shall I bill AT&T for 9 hours I can never get back?

Agent : Thank you for patiently understanding what we have discussed on this chat. We are really sorry, Marilyn.

Me : Yeah. I bet you are.

Agent : We really appreciate your time, Marilyn.

Me : Okay. Enough. I need to make dinner and take a few blood pressure medications before I explode.

Agent : Thank you so much for your time.

Me : Right.

Agent : Thank you and have a wonderful dinner, Marilyn.


We eventually wound up with a Samsung Galaxy Alpha because it has the best audio of any mobile phone AT&T had available. Also the loudest. I still hate cell phones, but at least we have one that works as opposed to paying for a phone, but not being able to use it (iPhones are overrated).

STATE OF THE STATE: LAST YEAR, REDUX

It took me five months to see an oncologist from Fallon who ran my 2013 Medicare Advantage plan. In 2014, I switched to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Value Advantage PPO. It came as a blast of clean air. Life has been so much better ever since. Not perfect, but better.

Still, this is a story worth retelling because although the names change, the same situations recur. Right now, I’m going through a similar snafu with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It has me convinced that my state is run by morons. Garry says I’m being unfair to morons.

72-Dana-Farber_020

This story had a beginning and an end. It started when, in November 2012 I gave up my expensive Humana Medigap policy and joined Fallon’s Senior Medicare Advantage plan. It sounded okay on paper.

The customer service person who signed me up assured me Dana-Farber in Milford was covered by Fallon. Untrue. It left me without an oncologist. I was not too upset. I could see my Dana-Farber doctor once more and get a referral from him.

custSVC

Wrong. My oncologist didn’t know anyone at UMass in Worcester which is Fallon’s only cancer care facility in the county.

Even this didn’t faze me. I’m in the maintenance phase. I go for checkups and blood tests. Nonetheless, cancer runs in my family. Mother. Brother. Both maternal grandparents. I’ve had cancer twice. It’s too soon to stop monitoring.

My Dana Farber oncologist said the UMass facility is good, but he couldn’t help me find a new doctor. He told me to call the HMO and ask them who they have in medical oncology with a specialty in breast cancer. I already knew my PCP couldn’t give me a referral.

I called Fallon.

She said — this is a quote: “We do not list our doctors by specialty.”

“What,” I asked, “Do you list them by? Alphabetically?”

I mean, seriously, if you don’t list doctors by specialty, how can anyone get an appropriate referral? This is senior health care . It’s cancer — not rare among the senior set. Not rare among any set.

Dana Farber lobby

I explained I needed a medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer. Cancer doctors are specialized and it did make a difference. No, there’s no such thing as “just an oncologist.” If ignorance was bliss, this was a happy woman.

I explained (again) it would not be okay to send me to “just any” oncologist. I needed a doctor who knew my cancer.

I spent an hour or two being told I needed to go to my primary care doctor for a referral. It was like talking to a robot. Another 45 minutes passed until I was transferred to a supervisor. I retold the story. She said she would “research the problem” and get back to me.

I called my doctor’s office, explained that I hadn’t been able to get a referral from the oncologist at the Dana-Farber, nor could I get a referral from Fallon who seemed to think my PCP should send me to the right doctor. Even though I told them that Dr. S. didn’t know the doctors at UMass, Worcester. I needed help.

A few hours later, my doctor’s office called back and gave me a name, an appointment, and a phone number. The appointment was for just a few days hence, also my birthday. I didn’t want an oncology appointment on my birthday. I called the office.

I got transferred, then transferred again. I ended up talking to Lisa, the administrator for the Breast Cancer Care department. It turned out the doctor with whom I’d been booked was a surgeon Also, they couldn’t do anything without my medical records — scattered through 3 hospitals and a doctor’s office.

Lisa said not to worry, she would take care of it. She did.

She changed the appointment, booked me with a doctor who specialized in my type of cancer, called the various offices and ordered my medical records sent to UMass. Said if I had any kind of problem, give her a call and she’d fix it. Women with cancer didn’t need extra problems. What a difference she made!

My PCP’s assistant called to ask why I’d cancelled the appointment she’d made. I explained that doctor was a surgeon. I’d already been surged. I needed a different doctor. She was pissed because it hadn’t been easy to get that appointment. She could not grasp the difference between a medical oncologist and a surgeon.

CustomerSvcFallonQuote

I explained again I didn’t need a surgeon. I have no breasts. I did need my medical records. She said yes, Lisa from UMass had called, but she wasn’t sure where to send them.

“Didn’t Lisa tell you where to send them?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Then … why don’t you send them where she told you to send them?”

“But you cancelled the appointment I made!” she said.

“I changed the appointment. Actually, Lisa changed it. Because the doctor to which you were sending me was the wrong doctor. Now I have an appointment with the right doctor. I’m not blaming you. Why are you mad at me?” I reassured her I truly appreciated her efforts.

“Oh,” she said. Not “I’m sorry.” Just “oh.”

“Right,” I said.

I subsequently got many calls from Fallon, all wanting to explain again why I was unhappy with their customer service. I said a patient should be able to call and get names of appropriate doctors and basic information about the doctor. This is fundamental to medical care.

Everyone agreed with me, but I was sure nothing would change. Inertia always wins.

The day was only half over; I was not done.

When I finished the marathon calls to Fallon, I got a call from Humana to remind me I hadn’t made a payment this month.

I hadn’t made the payment because I had cancelled the insurance when I switched to a Medicare Advantage (HMO) program. At the end of November, I had signed up with Fallon, then called Humana to cancel my policy as of the first of the year. I was told that as soon as my new program kicked in, the old policy would be automatically cancelled. There was nothing for me to do.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” I was told.

In was the middle of March. Humana was harassing me for money. When they called again, I got a person on the phone,  pointed out I’d cancelled the plan.

The representative said that he could see in his records I’d called to cancel. I’d been given incorrect information. I had to send them a letter. I could not cancel by phone. I said I signed up by phone. Why did I have to write a letter to cancel?

“Those are the rules,” he said.

“I want to speak to your manager,” I said. He explained that the manager would tell me the same thing. I pointed out that I didn’t care, I wanted to talk to a manager. I didn’t owe them any money.

He said I’d have to file a dispute to not pay them. Although it was their fault and they could see I called to cancel the policy, I would have to fix the problem, though they caused it.

I thought my head would explode.

customer-service

The manager reiterated indeed they’d given me incorrect information, but it was my problem. Tough luck lady. I hung up, steam coming out of my ears.

I took a breath, called their other customer service department.

The lady I spoke to looked it up, agreed they had given me erroneous information, contacted the cancellation department and assured me it was fixed. I have a name and a number in case it isn’t. I pointed out they had burned a whole year of good will in an hour. And any further harassment and I’d call the Attorney General and report them for sharp business practices.

It had grown dark while all this was going on and as the day had gone from morning to evening.

How come so many incompetent people have jobs? Why are they working when so many more intelligent and better qualified people are out of work? It’s a mystery.


STATE OF THE YEAR, REDUX, 2013 EDITION WITH UPDATES

EIGHT IN THE MORNING – WHY IS THE PHONE RINGING?

There’s a myth circulating about senior citizens, that we are up with the birds and asleep before sunset. An entire culture has been built on “Early Bird Specials.” Because old people purportedly eat dinner by 4pm.

I eat around four, but I call it lunch. Dinner is around eight. Please call before you show up.

72-Mobile and Regular Phones_07

In my experience older people, especially retired ones, are up when they feel like getting up. They go to bed when they feel ready to sleep. For us, that’s around one in the morning or later (earlier?). Even when we should go to bed earlier (because we have something we need to do in the morning), “Just one more show?” always wins over “Are you ready to go in yet?”

Thus when the phone rang at eight this morning, I wasn’t happy. I’ve recently changed my phone. At least my new ring tone — a Mozart sonata — is pleasant. Not like the old one which had all the grace of a nail gun to the head.

It took me a few moments to reconnoiter, to recognize the source of the sound. The phone, Marilyn. It’s the phone.

When I’m awake and focused, I don’t answer calls from “Unknown Callers,” survey companies, or 800 numbers. None of them are people to whom I want to speak. Most of them aren’t people. They are recorded messages (talk about annoying).

I can’t see the caller ID from the bed. It’s easier to snake my hand around the lamp and grab the phone.

I see an unfamiliar name on the caller ID.

“Hello?” Big improvement on my usually hostility-tinged “Yes?”

“Good morning, this is Rita from the Milford Daily Telegram.”

72-Phones_02

Speechless, I stared at the receiver in my hand, trying to get through the clouds in my brain to remember what to do next.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

I was there, sort of. Shortly, I remembered what to do. I clicked “End.” Put the phone down. Plumped the pillow and went back to sleep. I was pissed, though well short of a killing frenzy. I save murderous rages for back-stabbing former friends and moronic customer disservice personnel. I’ve outlived most of the back-stabbers — in which there is some weird consolation — and no matter how frothing at the mouth crazed I may get at customer service drones, I recover almost immediately. I may not even remember the details an hour later.

Actual solicitation calls, of which this was one, should not be coming at all. I’m on the “DO NOT CALL” list. Nonetheless, I get up to a dozen or more such calls every day. If I’m alert, I don’t answer them. When I don’t recognize the name but doubt it’s anyone I know, I respond with a hostility-laden “Yes?”

Note: Putting yourself on a “Do Not Call” list seems the perfect way to distribute your phone number to organizations who want to sell your data to spammers.

Why eight in the morning? Anytime they call me will be annoying, but do they believe they can sell me something if they call before I have time to drink my coffee? Or my defenses down because I’m not fully awake?

What they accomplish is to rob me of a couple of hours of badly needed sleep. I curse them for that. Sleep is precious. Nobody should attempt to solicit anything from anybody before eleven. Or ever, if it were up to me.

I’m sorry about not having a criminal rampage to report. I promise to write about it as soon as something appropriate triggers one.


 

MAD AS A HATTER

But why is the hatter mad? Did his hats not sell? Is he mentally unbalanced or merely angry? Inquiring minds want to know.

DON’T LET THEM NEAR A COMPUTER

Today, ignoring everything going on in the world, the Daily Prompt is “Five a DayYou’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

It’s a pretty dull prompt. Unlikely to inspire anyone. Trivial. Not funny. Dull, flat, and forlorn. So, instead, I’m going to tell you a true story. The names have been not been changed to protect the guilty.

Just before Christmas this past year, I treated myself to a long-deferred gift: a premium theme. It is/was not WordPress’s most expensive theme. At $49, it was on the low-end, but it was the first one I liked enough to consider buying.

It wasn’t cutesy. Blogly is tidy, squared off. Black on white text, with a choice of background colors. Flexible layout. Many post styles (which, it turned out, never worked).

A left-hand sidebar for widgets. Pictures feel cramped when hedged in by a right-hand sidebar.

Looks good, doesn't it? Caveat emptor!!

Looks good, doesn’t it? Caveat emptor!!

The more I looked at it, the better I liked it. I gave it several test runs. Finally, I bought it. I figured, hey, I’m a blogger. I can have a nice theme. It’s a one-time purchase I can use forever.

It turned out that forever was not long. In January, WordPress decided including an “Edit” link in the “My Sites” drop-down menu would ruin their design. This made no sense. Regardless of any other consideration, the ability to conveniently edit your blog is critical for all of us.

It was particularly important to me, because Blogly, unlike most themes, had no built-in “edit” link. Without its own link — and after removing the Edit function of the drop-down menu — making even a simple correction became nearly impossible. I was not the only one who got upset. A lot of furious bloggers later, WordPress restored the edit function to the “My Sites” menu.

But — they weren’t through messing with me. They decided to “fix” Blogly because, they explained, it should have its own internal edit link. All themes should have an edit link. So the talented development team (they keep telling me how great they are) put an edit link in Blogly. Not where it belongs, in individual posts, but only when you are looking at posts in “home” and scrolling. So if you had an individual post open to read it, there was still no edit link. I consoled myself that at least they’d restored the link on the drop-down.

Thing is, half the things it says it does don't work. But you won't know that until you already own it. There's only so much you can test in their trial mode.

Thing is, half the things it says it does don’t work. But you won’t know that until you already own it. There’s only so much you can test in their trial mode.

Then they did something else to Blogly. I don’t know what they did, or any idea why , but suddenly, when you clicked a comment, you went to the comment. The rest of the post — the rest of the site — became inaccessible.

You could not scroll up past the start of comments. Getting home was daunting. Complaints from readers poured in. I checked the function in Safari. IE. Chrome. I checked on my laptop, desktop, Kindle and iPad. I had the same problems across all platforms and browsers.

Blogly was dead. I could not re-size graphics. Text got weird. I was never sure what margins I would get — or what size titles would be. So many issues. A couple of nights ago, when all my text got pushed to the far right into an ugly narrow column with pictures glued together in a solid lump, I gave up.

I was pissed. The next time the annoying “How can we help you” box popped up, I asked for my money back. Barring that, I suggested they let me select a different theme that actually worked.

They said it was too late to get my money back -- you only have 30 
days to change your mind.

I pointed out that I hadn’t changed my mind. They had trashed my theme. They broke it and they owed me. They called in the infamous “Happiness engineering” development team. They were sure it would be a simple fix. Not.

Today I got my money back. Apparently it was not simple.

The good news? They did the right thing. Somewhere, somehow, someone in WordPress stopped spouting the party line and acted like a professional.

The bad news? How could this mess happen? And why are they still offering the theme for sale?

It was not always like this. Those of us who have been blogging on WordPress for more than a few months remember when it was a happy place with support, encouragement, and sometimes, inspiration.

They’ve taken all the good stuff away and left us with warmed over prompts and what has got to be the most incompetent crew of developers and customer disservice people anywhere. They are worse than my cable company and I don’t say that lightly.

It doesn’t have to be this way. They have taken a good thing and are destroying it, piece by piece. Bad choices, a determination to create a platform for a market that doesn’t exist. Despite their firm belief that the future of blogging is on small devices, it’s not true. People may view blogs on small devices, but no one writes or creates them that way. All of us use a computer. With a keyboard, mouse, or other pointing device.

The success of WordPress depends on having bloggers who attract readers. That means content creators. Writers, photographers, artists. Chefs, craftspeople. All if whom need professional tools to do their thing — and that thing is never going to be done on a phone or tablet.

We are their customers. We generate revenue for WordPress in exchange for a platform. At which WordPress keeps chipping, making it harder and harder to do what we do. Making it easier to view blogs on cell phones while taking away critical tools bloggers need to produce content is stupid. Short-sighted. It will eventually bring down the house.

So I say, send them all to their favorite desert island. Give them just five foods to eat forever. Most important, don’t let them near a computer.

DON’T MAKE ME CRAZY

As I was coming back from my doctor’s office today, I got to thinking what could be done to improve the customer service experience, especially regarding voice mail systems. This is what I came up with.

LET ME SELECT WHAT I NEED

Your options have not recently changed if you can’t remember the last time you redid your message. If I know I need number 2, 3, 1, or 0, let me press it. Do not make me sit there while you rattle on. It’s an inexcusable imposition on my time and patience.

Moreover, everyone is familiar with voice mail. It’s not new technology. We know to listen until we hear the option we need. We are not stupid.

My time is as valuable to me as yours is to you. Don’t waste it.

DON’T BURY THE LEAD

Whatever your organization does, make sure the first choice in your list is the thing most of your customers want. It probably is not your address, business hours, website address, or the opportunity to hear about your new services — or take a survey.

CustomerSvcFallonQuote

If you are a personal service provider — doctor, dentist, veterinarian, massage therapist, hired assassin — scheduling should be on top. At least half your calls will be people who need to make, change, or cancel (or some combination of these) an appointment. Don’t send us to a sub menu with more options. Answer the damned phone.

If you are a utility — cell service, telephone company, ISP, power company, water — why do think most people call? Because your service isn’t working. No power, no water, no cell service, no dial tone. No WiFi. No cable. Do not tell us to use the website. If we could get to the website, we would not be calling you.

customer-service

Whoever picks up the call must be able to reply to this: “Is this a general outage or is it me?”

  1. If the former: When do you expect service to be restored?
  2. If the latter, transfer the caller to tech support. Don’t ask us to make another call.

IT DOESN’T WORK

Number 2 should be Technical support. Of course. Something isn’t working or isn’t working as it should. Have a human being answer the phone. Even if it involves waiting, don’t make your already upset and angry customer wade through another set of prompts. Take responsibility. Be a person.

ABOUT THAT BILL

Number 3? They want to talk about the bill. Which they already paid, can’t pay, shouldn’t have to pay, is actually someone else’s. If you put them into another voice mail system, it will might make them angry enough to dump you for another provider.

They do not want to leave a message for someone to ignore and never call back. They want to straighten out what they hope is a simple misunderstanding. If you send them to more voice mail or an answering machine — and you don’t return the call immediately — expect to never get your money or lose our business. I have dumped providers at the first opportunity many times and I will do it again. If you aggravate me enough, I will hold it against you. Forever. And I will tell everyone why.

This is business. I am a paying customer. Act like you care.

96-Waiting-Worcester_13

A CAUTIONARY TALE

I hear so many companies complaining how bad business is. Never do I hear them wonder if their own action (or inaction) might have something to do with it. Maybe the problem is how badly you treat your customers.

Consider this: Maltreating customers does not endear you to them. If they can, they will go elsewhere. At the first opportunity, they will drop you so fast you won’t have a chance to say “Hey wait, I’ve got a deal for you.”

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine got the option of using FIOS instead of Warner Cable. FIOS was a bit more expensive and had a slightly smaller offering, at least back then. She changed services anyway. She said: “I hate Warner so much, I’d happily pay more to anyone else just to be rid of them.”

I feel that same way about our cable provider. They think they are invulnerable because we currently have no choice, but eventually, we will have a choice. It’s only a matter of time. The ill-will they are amassing now will ultimately bury them. It’s a cautionary tale for all corporations who think they “own” the market — and the customers.

Talk to your customers. Be nice to them. Make them feel valued. Calm them down rather than throwing gasoline on the fire. If you are in a service industry, provide service. It’s what we are paying for.

YOUR BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT TO US

It’s an epidemic, a pandemic  — of bad service.

Do you remember when the customer was always right? I do. It wasn’t that long ago.

Customer satisfaction and service was the norm until approximately 2002, at which point everyone — more or less simultaneously — decided to save money by “automating” customer service, eliminating it entirely, or shipping it overseas to be handled by people who speak heavily accented English and don’t know anything about the products they are supposed to be supporting. That was when you and me, the customers, the ones who spend our limited, disposable income on their products or services, became unimportant.

outofserviceThat was the year when we all became not worth the effort of answering a question, or supplying documentation. The gold standard for customer service became … nothing. These days, after slightly more than a decade of working out the details, most organizations do not offer any service to their customers. At all.

The overall attitude is “do the least you can — nothing, if you can get away with it. All customers are liars and thieves. Treat them as such.”

Customer disservice. I think I’m permanently pissed off. Even thinking about calling a customer service department gets my blood boiling. I’m shocked if I’m treated well. Delighted, but shocked.

SO WHAT DO I HATE?

Recorded phone solicitations that interrupt your sleep, meals, conversations, and the show you’re watching. Calls that display on caller ID as familiar phone numbers, but they’ve hacked your data or bought it from someone from whom you bought something.

waiting

Fake charitable organizations, many supposedly in support of breast cancer research or some other form of advocacy. Who take your money and use it to line their own pockets.

“Surveys” that are nothing but scams to collect your private data for sale and misuse.

“Discount cards” for every shop you go to, all of which are a way to collect your personal information so they can sell it. Because you may not be worth much as a customer, but your buying habits sell for big bucks.

Voice-mail systems at doctor’s offices with so many options you can’t recall the first option halfway through the message. The recordings go on and on, until you are ready to scream. Worse, you have to listen to the entire spiel every time you call. The message starts with “Please listen to this entire message before making your selection. Our menu choices have recently changed …” Recently was 10 months ago … or a year or more. You can sing along with the recording because you’ve heard it so many times.

CustServCartoon

Many places no longer offer any option of speaking to a live person. Try to find a live human being at your electric company, cable provider, or credit card company.

Our electric company had customer service. Today, if you can find their phone number, a recorded message will tell you to visit the website. Online. Not quite what you need when the power’s off. Make sure you have their actual phone number on your device. You can’t look it up online when there’s no electricity because if there’s no electricity, there’s also no cable or WiFi.

If your whole life is online, it’s over when the power goes out.

Death cust serv

Assuming you can worm your way through voice mail and finally push the magic number to connect you to a live agent, you hear: “Your business is important to us …” followed by Muzak and a 40-minute wait on hold. Better yet, it’s the long wait, followed by a disconnect and dial tone.

96-Waiting-Worcester

Bad (automated) service is particular noxious when it’s a local company. You know both office workers are probably playing games on Facebook while you listen to their 5-minute voice-mail message. All you wanted to do was ask on which night they are open late. By the end of the message, you no longer care.

THERE ARE STILL SOME GOOD ONES OUT THERE 

Amazon and Audible. Audible is an Amazon company now, but they always had terrific customer service. The more I deal with Amazon, the less I want to deal with anyone else. They are proof getting service does not have to be a nightmare. Trauma need not part of all interactions with vendors, medical facilities, utilities, or other corporations.

AT&T is good. Not as good as Amazon, but you can eventually get a real live person who knows what they are doing. And oddly enough, Medicare and Social Security. Though you may need to wait on hold for a while, you will get a live person in the end — and they will speak your language. They will stay on line with you as long as it takes. Credit where it’s due. These underpaid public servants try hard to help you.

L.L. Bean has wonderful customer service. Land’s End is good too.

To everyone else, I offer a big raspberry and a Bah Humbug in honor of the season.

RECENTLY ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE WITH FLOWERS

Recently Acquired – What’s the most important (or interesting, or unexpected) thing about blogging you know today that you didn’t know a month ago?


That when it gets right down to it, WordPress treats its customers  as if they are ever so slightly contemptible, as if there is something a bit shameful about following the prompts they provide.

December bouquet

They prefer insulting their customers (and/or making fun of them) to fixing problems they themselves created. Service is not their “thing.”

december bouquet 2

Apparently things like the daily prompt, which I and many other like to write to for the challenge of writing about something we didn’t think up ourselves, according to WordPress is entirely designed to get more people to read our blogs, because people like me couldn’t survive without their help.

december bouquet 3

While there may have been a time when these prompts boosted readership, the way they have handled the prompts (and us) for the past year has cut the participation by at least half. It has so reduced the following for the prompts that of all the things I post, the Daily Prompts get the smallest response.

Probably that also has to do with the frequent reruns of the same prompts and prompts so dull and unimaginative, it’s hard to figure out anything to say.

December Bouquet 4

But no matter. It has become a kind of social network for those of us who have stuck with it. It is fun being in touch with a group who enjoys giving it a try, even when it’s stupid and seeing what other people can do, given the same starting point.

And just to brighten this Sunday morning — the first day in the past week that hasn’t been darkly overcast — enjoy the latest bouquet from my romantic husband who felt I needed new flowers.

He was right!

Have a great Sunday.