Garry got his “Microsoft is ready for your download to Windows 10” notification. It came in yesterday — less than 24 hours after we got the upgrade flag. This must be a record for speedy responses from Microsoft.

I haven’t gotten mine. I haven’t checked the two desk tops. I’m not sure I want to “upgrade.” I fervently wish I could call Microsoft and talk to a person. Ask a few questions.

Microsoft has no customer service, at least not for folks like me. Maybe for big corporate customers who own thousands of licenses. Perhaps then you get the magic phone number that routes you to a live person who answers questions.

Not me, though. I still don’t know if upgrading to Windows 10 will work on this computer. Or will make Garry’s laptop work better — or not at all. I’ve heard from people who had great experiences and those who had serious problems. I’ve heard of disasters with the new OS.

I’d just like to talk to someone, know someone has my back. Our computers are critical. Central. Our connection to the world. Upgrading an operating system is not a small thing.

This got me thinking about the whole “customer-provider” relationship. Here are some thoughts. (They don’t apply to Microsoft because they are far too lofty to bother with customer service. They don’t deal with humans.)


Every voice mail system starts out saying “Our options have recently changed.” Your options have not recently changed. “Recently” is no more than three months. After that, it’s not recent. Change your message already!

If I know the number I need, let me press it. Don’t make me sit there while you explain in stultifying detail every permutation of your voice mail system.

Accept this as axiomatic. Everyone is familiar with voice mail. It’s not new technology. We know to listen until we hear the option we need. I am not stupid. My time is valuable. Don’t waste it.


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


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) 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.


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.


Option 2 must be Technical Support. Something isn’t working or not working as it ought. Have a human being answer the phone. Even if it involves waiting, don’t make your already upset, angry customer wade through another set of prompts. Take responsibility. Be a person.


Option 3? The bill. Which we already paid, can’t pay, shouldn’t have to pay, is actually someone else’s. If you put us into another voice mail system, it will might us angry enough to dump you for another provider.

We do not want to leave a message for someone to ignore and never call back. We want to straighten out what we hope is a simple misunderstanding. If you send us 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 dropped providers many times and will do it again.

If you annoy me, I will hold a grudge. I am a paying customer. Act like you want my business.



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. Blowing off customers does not endear you to us. If we can, we will go elsewhere. At the first opportunity, we 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 (finally) got FIOS as an alternative to ComCast. FIOS was (a bit) more expensive and had a smaller offering. She changed services anyway. She said: “I hate ComCast so much, I’d happily pay more to anyone just to be rid of them.”

I feel that way about our cable provider, Charter Communications. They think they are invulnerable because we have no choice, but WiFi based services are coming of age. There are more choices today … and more coming soon. It’s a matter of time. The ill-will you are amassing today will ultimately bury you as it has buried providers before you. The good-will of your customer is your primary asset. 

It’s a cautionary tale for corporations who think they “own” the market and the customers.


Talk to us. Be nice . Make us feel valued. Calm us down rather than throwing gasoline on the fire. If you are in a service industry, provide service. That is why we pay you.

Categories: Communications, Customer Service, Humor

Tags: , , , , , ,

73 replies

  1. Microsoft. Grrrr. Also annoying is the way the company suddenly decides they will “no longer support” previous Windows versions – trying to force people into the quagmire of the newest version.
    Computers are supposed to be tool – not a constant quiz for users.


    • I agree. Offering a new Operating System is fine. Forcing us to accept it is quite another. And not offering any support for the upgrade process is yet another insult. Microsoft has converted more people to Macs than Macintosh could ever have done on their own.

      Also — did it occur to anyone that changing the operating system on a computer will void its warranty (if there is one) automatically? Just saying.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Cordelia's Mom, Still and commented:
    Did you ever have a frustrating experience with a customer service call center? This post is for you, with thanks to Marilyn Armstrong.

    (Comments are closed on this re-blog. Leave any comments over on Marilyn’s site.)


  3. Our IRD – Inland Revenue will not talk to cell phones – only landlines. I cancelled my landline and changed providers. Anyway IRD want it all done online – but it takes them a week to find your emails. Funnily though, when you send them enough irate emails they will ring you on your cell phone.
    My son had to install Windows 10 on my computer and because it was only 2 months old I really didn’t have any problems. He was able to install it on his Mac first, before his desktop but it took several days for all our computers. But I like it so far. Photoshop is definitely faster on it.


    • So far, the only computer in the house that has qualified is Garry’s laptop. Neither of the two desktops or my laptop, and I think it’s because these three computers all have GeForce Nvidia video/graphics cards — and Win 10 isn’t compatible with them. Garry’s computer is so basic and Garry’s use of the computer so basic that I”m not sure it’s worth the effort. Also, it’s pretty old and I’m concerned that the OS will overload it. So, I’m doing the smart thing, which is, nothing.


  4. Hi. Your site says: Seeking intelligent life on earth. I though I was intelligent until I got on my wordpress site today. It took me a while to find the comment button on some blogs, yours included. Obviously, I missed a notice. I finally clicked on the little message icon and scrolled all the way to the bottom of the other messages, and voila there was my “talk to me!” space. I loved your article and would like to share it with my brother on Facebook, if OK. He is trying to keep from going insane.


    • This is why I put the most recent messages on top, so that people don’t have to scroll all the way to the bottom to comment. Unfortunately, WordPress has their own way of doing things and they defeat me every time.

      You are welcome to ‘share me.’ I always feel that when you blog, you have told the world that much of your life is public, else why would you blog? Really private people don’t live on line.

      There IS intelligent life on earth and blogging has connected me to a lot of it. Just as well, because living in a small town can leave you wondering.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I have a lot to say on this, so probably will write my own thing. First of all – how comes Gary gets Windows 10 and I ordered two weeks ago and still have no word that I am in the chosen few? In the other hand, let him have it and tell us all how great and wonderful it is, if his computer survives. After reading your blog with its wise words and the comments I have decided a big No thankyou when eventually Microsoft realises that there is a country called Switzerland (I know, we are only eight million peopl – not even the population of New York). I have decided that my Windows 7 computer with the letters that do not always work (especially the “i” and “o”) will not have the Windows 10 oppression. I will let it live for the next year or so. And I have an apple, so what could possible go wrong. See you on my side of the blog.


    • My “order” went in the same hour as Garry’s and all I’ve got is a notice saying they don’t have a version of Windows 10 appropriate for my computer. I’m pretty sure they check out what kind of hardware you have and what version of Windows 7 you were running — mine is Win7 Professional which really isn’t the same as regular Win7 Home. And I have gotten anything back on my other two computers, the two desktops. Not even messages to say why not. I think they are fixing bugs and probably, that is just as well that we wait until they have something that isn’t going to crash our computers. I haven’t installed it on Garry’s computer, either. I am not sure that I will.

      Windows 7 is doing fine for me and I’m not sure I want to be a tester for Microsoft’s latest operating system. I’m thinking about it. And I’ll keep thinking until I feel I’m ready.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. for many big corporations such as insurance companies, there is a magic button you can press. It’s call “billing”. You want to talk to a human in a room that does not rattle with emptimess, you want to talk to a human in customer service, or adress changes, whatever. But you need to get to them first.
    When the options start to roll, wait for “Press — for Billing” and you will almost certainly get a human. That is, after all, where the money matters. Play flustered, and say, oh I must have hit the wrong button– and most times the lady at the other end will offer to patch you through. I’ve used it more than once, and got a friend to try it too. Damn but it worked.

    But yeah, the music is dreadful, and every ten seconds they interrupt it to tell you how much they value your service, please hold…

    You cant walk away or turn down the phone, they gotcha. Our power company is now fully automated, I hate it. used to be you could call Woody downtown and he’d say,” be right up, we’ll take care of it” and he was, and they did. I think its called change.

    Ugly word.


    • You’d think that would be true, but especially medical offices these days have NO ONE in billing. They not only aren’t there when you call, they never call you back. Don’t they want the money? Apparently not enough to hire someone to take answer the phone.


  7. Marilyn, my cousin still has XP for an operating system. He has no fear of being hacked. If I were you I would go slowly on the change and see how it works. Each computer is going to be different so give it a little time before you jump in.


    • I just got enough information to make me doubly wary of an update given the internal workings of my computers — all of which have GeForce graphics cards in them … which are, apparently, not compatible with Windows 10. Probably why only Garry’s laptop which doesn’t have a GeForce card in it got the green light. But I’m probably not going to do his, either. His computer works. It isn’t a great computer and any little change makes it unstable. Probably not a prime candidate for the upgrade! I think I’ll pass on the chance to be a test dummy for Microsoft.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I keep getting those upgrade notices, and I keep ignoring them. My computer runs on Windows 7 and I’m very happy with it. Why fix it if it ain’t broke? At some point in the next year or so, I’ll be ready to buy a new computer which probably will already have Windows 10, so why bother now? I think it’s just Microsoft’s way of getting some unpaid guinea pigs to check out their product. I can wait until they fix the glitches those guinea pigs find.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My laptop is new, high-end, expensive (very) and I’m not going to replace it anytime soon. It runs Windows 7 Professional. I’m not sure how well it would run on Win 10. and there’s no one to ask. But I have questions. Big questions. I’m pretty sure changing the OS voids my warranty too.

      Garry’s laptop wasn’t expensive, one of Dell’s lower end machines. Not long ago I reloaded his computer with a clean version of Win 7. I suspect it will need replacing in the next year or so. Putting a new OS on it would probably shorten its life.

      The two desktops in the other rooms are a different issue entirely. Garry’s might do well with the upgrade … it’s a simple, standard desktop with a box and a separate monitor, but mine is an all-in-one that has always been very touchy about any change to its environment.

      So I’m not eager to test out how this OS will run on our four computers, especially with Microsoft’s well-earned reputation for putting out very buggy systems then spending the next few years addressing the issues. By the time they get it right, they’ve decided to replace it with yet ANOTHER buggy OS.

      I think the whole “trust factor” has been lost between MS and its customers.

      Liked by 3 people

    • we got one of the last win 7 upgrades, after XP refused to run anything anymore, and my husband said its probably going to be around for several years so we”re safe for now.
      But we get those damned upgrade notices too. I just throw a blanket over them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I bought a copy of Win7 for $80 from Amazon when Microsoft was no longer offering it anywhere. Installed it on a couple of older computers. I’m sure Windows 10 will be available off the shelf long after the free upgrade period ends. If you really want it, someone is selling it.


    • I’m with you. Neither my needs nor my (very limited) computer abilities justify Win10. The wife says it would just confuse me. Being already an overachiever…. 😯

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I got the message right away. Only problem is: One of my Updates to have done before Windows 10 can be added won’t update. I keep getting the failed to install.I spent hours trying to get it to install. I have given up for the moment. All I wanted to do was to download 10. I am not ready to install it yet. I may hate 8.1 but at least I know how to use it. Wanting to wait a while before I actually tried it. Leary of it.


    • Probably with good reason. I’ve heard a lot of stories from all over the world. Big problems, no problems. The scariest ones are “it seemed like no problem, but after a few days, the laptop stopped booting and I had to take it in and have them restore Win 8.1 (or whatever) …” I have a lot invested in these machines and I’m not feeling comfortable taking chances with the equipment. So I know how you feel and I share the feeling.


  11. I installed 10 on our laptop. One of the features is the return of the Start button. It’s there, but mine won’t work. Not a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. …and please don’t make me listen to the same music over and over and have the person stop repeating everything that I say 4 times, because it drives me insane..makes me wanna drink or hit somebody 🙂


  13. I’m a big believer in choice. If I had a choice on local cable providers customer service would either improve or you could sign up with someone else. If you provide good products or service why don’t you have a customer service phone number? (UPS doesn’t) Why aren’t customer service ratings required on all TV commercials? Choice us good, information is a key requirement for smart consumers.


    • The only reason we use Charter is there’s no other vendor in this area. But one day, there will be and woe be to them when there is!


      • Usually cable companies pay big bribes to the panel selecting the ISP for the area. No other carrier is permitted. It’s a monopoly which should be illegal but is bought and paid for with those bribes.


        • Oh, I’m sure everyone in this town is getting big kickbacks. It’s the only possible explanation. Because they don’t HAVE to give an exclusive contract to the worst and most expensive provider in the region.


  14. My sister and I both got the little flag some time back. She now has Windows 10. She says that she lost some programs that she liked, some from HP, the computer’s maker and that it affected the touchscreen function. She has a 2 in 1 about four years old. She was able to find some alternative programs so after a few days she is relatively happy although she made the comment that if you had not used Windows 8 you would notice more of a difference.
    I was on the fence, waiting to hear if others were having issues but decided to check the upgrade box again only to find the message. “We are very sorry, you cannot download Windows 10 on this computer . Would you like to look at new computers?” The problem it seems is the Nvidia geForce graphics card which won’t support Windows 10 display. I went to their website and found very little useful information, surprise, surprise. I then looked on the Nvidia website forum and found a lot of posts from people having the same problem. One of the moderators (I assume) replied that this particular card (NVIDIA Ge force7025/ nforce630a) is at the end of it’s life and the company will no longer support it. The computer is five years old so I guess that is to be expected but I felt annoyed, not so much because of not getting Windows 10 but because I felt Microsoft had been Indian givers, offering it to me then changing their minds. So I guess the news is that if you have an older computer you are not guaranteed getting Windows 10. You might need to upgrade older components.
    Regarding your instructions for Customer Service I could not agree more. It’s plain commonsense so of course it will never happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We had one particular cell service that we loved the coverage and the plan but if you had to call customer service you knew there would be a minimum 45 minute wait while you heard all the recorded explanations of what was down and what was slow and what was not working. But, magically after 45 minutes someone would talk to you. Of course, they couldn’t solve your problem because they were sitting in a country to still be named and they barely understood the English language. The last time I had to do it after three of these lovely experiences, I looked up the CEO and sent him an email. Suddenly, I had a real live person from within the USA who understood what the problem was and fixed it. I sent back a thank you and suggested they might want to look at their level of customer service support because at some point people just get fed up and move regardless of the good cell service. The customer service that we grew up with is dead and gone. I miss it.


    • I remember when everyone decided that they could outsource customer service to other countries. Nice that we support the economies overseas, but it has left a large, angry hole where happy customers in the US ought to be. It is SO frustrating. I feel like I spend half my life on hold, the other half fighting to get my equipment fixed.


  16. This is so matter of the fact post. These service providers can learn a lot and introspect their dealing with the customers. I just loved the satire in your memes. They are going so well as if you have created them. Might be. If you have missed this one….


  17. That voicemail thing really winds me up! So true! I don’t know if I’d upgrade so soon. I normally wait til the dust settles with these things. These new releases can be quite buggy sometimes And the fact that they’re letting me have an operating system for ‘free’ makes me even more cautious. Great article. One love 🙂


    • I’m waiting. I’ve heard enough to suspect it would not be to my benefit at this time, especially since Win 7 is working fine for all the computers. I think I’ll skip be a test guinea pig for Microsoft this round.

      I just spent the morning trying to get my husband’s special caption phone (for hearing impaired) fixed. I couldn’t even blame it on their not understanding the language. They were incredibly bad, but definitely home-grown bad!!


  18. For whatever reason, I was upgraded right away. Not really sure what the hype was all about though – perhaps time will tell?


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