It was just one of those mornings. Last night, just around bedtime, I took a look at my bank balance. It is usually low this time of month because Social Security doesn’t come in until tomorrow — now today. I figured I’d just check and make sure nothing unexpected had happened.

A few days ago, I placed an order with Coldwater Creek. I like their clothing and I’ve been shopping with them for years. Like twenty years. Maybe more. A couple of years ago, they changed the company’s ownership, but the clothing has stayed the same. They cancelled their credit card, but otherwise, it’s the same store.

They were having an “end of season” sale, so I checked my balance, realized I could afford a pair of jeans that fits and is the right length. I added a couple of clearance blouses and got a confirmation. So imagine my surprise when I looked at my account and saw the money for that order deducted (but not cleared) from my account and another charge deducted (but not cleared) for $40 which I didn’t place. When I tried to call up my account, it not didn’t recognize my password, email address or order number. I got upset.

It was too late to call them last night, but at eight this morning, I was on the phone. I said I didn’t understand. Who placed the other order? Why can’t I find my order number? Why can’t I find ME? I’m $140 down and I’m not even expecting an order.

After a lot of trying to talk to the first “customer service” guy, I went for the supervisor. A lot of griping later, it turned out the pants were on backorder, so they took that out of my original order and place it separately without asking me. Nor did they send me any kind of order information for the two shirts which are, apparently, arriving by themselves. Tomorrow, when I won’t be here. And apparently they decided — just last night — to cancel all “old subscriptions, thus forcing us to create new ones. Of course, my entire history with the company was in that file.

Eventually she agreed to send me an email confirmation of the actual stuff they are sending. By then, that was just the two clearance shirts. I cancelled the pants. If they hadn’t already shipped the shirts, I’d have cancelled them, too. I was getting seriously pissed off.

“Why didn’t you call me and tell me the pants were on back order and let ME decide if I still want them?”

“You said you didn’t want us to email.” This is patently untrue because they send me emails with advertisements constantly, sometimes several times a day. I said, “Be that as it may, I checked your box to text me and included my cell number.”

“We don’t text,” she said.

“Then why do you have that on your subscription?”

“Oh, it’s the computers.” My jaw literally dropped. I said her reason she had a job was because computers are tools for her to use. They are not a virtual substitute your brain. Just a tool. Really. YOU are in charge, not “it.” She actually seemed confused by this. Then she said that in any case, they aren’t responsible for anything that happens on the Internet.

They are an Internet company. They don’t have shops. If they can’t be responsible for tracking order placed online, then they should take down their website. In fact, they probably should go out of business since they are unable to take responsibility for their own website.

I eventually figured out what was going on, vowed to never place another order with them, and hung up.

Sadly, my day was not done. I had spent a couple of hours trying to figure out Coldwater Creek and then, I got a bill from UMass. Then, I got another bill from UMass. They weren’t the same. Actually, they aren’t bills. They have this “chart” which is their virtual communication system for test results, appointments, bills, useless advice and messages.

UMass is a great institution. They have fantastic doctors and having them in Worcester makes life possible. But their billing department? There is a bill for $8.00 that I’ve already paid twice. The first time, I paid using “MyChart” and they lost the payment. Never heard of it.

Okay, I said to myself. Not ever doing that again. They will have to wait for a check from the bank. I want records that I paid. It was only $8.00 so I paid it again — with a check directly from BOA. They got the check and cashed it on August 3rd, but they still can’t find it. I said, “It is not my job to find the payments I made. I made the payment — twice — and you aren’t getting it three times. My bank says the check cleared, so you have the money. Go find it.”

“Wait a minute,” she said. A few minutes later, she found it. “It was in your husband’s account. You used your account number and that’s for both of you, so they put it in his account.”

“Did,” I asked, “you notice that Garry didn’t owe any money but I did?”

“Oh,” she said, “You know. Computers.”

I had a headache. I was tired of people behaving like morons because they were sure the computer was smarter than they were. They might be right, now that I think about it.

An hour later, somebody else called me. She couldn’t find the $8 or the other ten dollars I sent. I said that I had already spoken to someone else and she had said they were moving the money from Garry’s account to my account and that should have already been done. She said the problem was that I had used our account number which was for both Armstrongs, but I really should be using the guarantor number.

There is no such number in “MyChart.” That’s when she said that I could find it on the statement they send every month. I said I hadn’t gotten a statement for me or Garry in more than a year and she said yes I did. I said no, I didn’t. It’s not that I don’t get mail.

I get masses of paper a couple of times month from Social Security and Blue Cross/Medicare. I get The New Yorker weekly and National Geographic monthly. I get mail from credit companies that show my balance. I get deliveries. But I do NOT get statements from UMass. She said that the computer showed that they had been mailing them monthly. I begged to differ.

Then, she said: “Oh, you know. Computers…”

I think it’s possible my brain exploded and I became irrational. She seemed very eager to get off the phone. I was trying to crawl through the wire to get to her in person.

Oh, you know. Computers!”

Categories: Anecdote, Computers, Customer Service, Humor

Tags: , , , ,

13 replies

  1. There was a popular comedy sketch show on TV over here some years ago, called ‘Little Britain’ and one of the characters’ catch phrase was ‘computer says no’ – she was just like your customer ‘service’ people, blaming the computer rather than taking the trouble to deal with things herself. This was the first thing I thought of when I read your post!


    • It’s maddenly. It’s as if they’ve given up active intelligence and it’s all about computers. Then why do they have jobs? Why not have the computer answer the phone? Oh, wait, a lot of places already do exactly that. We are doomed.


  2. Hmmm, I have had similar experiences with man, or woman, and machine, Marilyn. Very irritating. Dealing with government is even worse, especially if they also have a machine. I hope you got it all sorted out.


  3. I feel your angst. I have Scripps, the one that got shut down with a major breach. Thank goodness I NEVER paid online so my bank info didn’t get hacked, but the blameshifting chat happens all the time. It’s the “computer”s fault” seems so easy. Although it’s HUMANS who program these things. No one wants to be accountable. No one wants to say I’m sorry, I made a mistake. Let e make it right. If it were me, I’d wait until the shirts arrive and then return them just so the “computers” have to generate all that return info.


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Tish Farrell

Writer on the Edge



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