Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Anyone who knows me, understands I'm generally not a fan of customer service. I LOVE going to stores that have self-check outs. If I can do it online, all the better. I will honestly choose one vendor over another if I can accomplish the task without risking the anger or disappointment of having to deal with a human being.

Sadly, my cell phone provider is that not tech-savvy.

I've been with Verizon almost two years. The main reason I switched was that they have exclusive service in our Metro system. I've had less dropped calls since and they also offer the "talk to other Verizon customers without using minutes" set-up.

However, the phone could only hold an hour charge at this point. I had a feeling it was the battery and was hoping to hold out until my contract renewed and I could get another phone. No such luck. I just couldn't take any longer.

So I took a co-worker and we went to the Verizon store. I had been dreading this visit since those stores usually have a huge wait to get service. Not this time. We walked right in and there was only one customer in the store.

This store has three distinct areas; the sales area, customer service and technical support. The sole customer was in the tech line, where I was pretty certain I was to go. However, I also thought that maybe... just maybe, Verizon would allow me to sign another two-year contract and just get my new phone early. However, I didn't know exactly when my contract expired.

Since no one was in line, I walked up to customer service. There was a larger woman sitting there, turned around in her chair, talking with co-worker who was fumbling with something at the back counter. She clearly saw me, but kept talking. About three minutes pass and I notice a service kiosk where customers can sign in to be queued up for one of the three areas. I thought it would be a good idea to get 'in line' for tech but still ask her my contract question.
I signed in and returned to her line. She finally acknowledged my presence with the roll of her eyes as she spun around.

"Did you sign up at the kiosk?" she asks.

Fuck me. It doesn't take long for me to get sarcastic. In this case, just seconds. "You just saw that I did. The kiosk is five feet from you. But I still have a quick question?"

Another roll of the eyes. "What?"

"If it's not a bother, I'm trying to see when my contract ends. I think I have battery issue and I thought that maybe I could just renew my contract and get a new phone."

Fat fingers type. My contract, it seems, expires in early June. "So is it possible to sign up early for another two year?" I ask.

"As I said, it expires in June." she said firmly.

"Seriously, I understand the calendar lesson. What I'm asking is if you let people renew early."

She let her whole body sigh as if exasperated buy our brief conversation. "I'm telling you that you can't."

Ignorance is my friend. "No, what you told me twice was that my contract expired in June. That told me nothing about renewing early."

With that the tech line opened and I moved over without saying another word. The gentleman there listened as I explained the battery situation and offered to test the phone to see if it actaully was the battery or the whole phone. Since there were a few other phones being tested, I was to return in 15 minutes. Just enough time for a Starbucks next door.

Upon returning, the same man greeted with a "May I help you?" I looked surprised. "Yes, I was just in here and you're testing my phone. "

"Oh.... I guess it's in the back."

(For the love of all things holy, where are they getting these people?)

Three minutes later, he appears. "Ummm, well...we tested it and ... well, it's not working."

"Could you be more specific? That was the whole reason I brought it in. "

"Well, there are things that... the phone just won't... it's..." It was like he was trying to tell me fatal news and just couldn't figure how to deliver it gently. "Let me get the woman from the back. She can explain it much better."

A young woman appeared. "Yes sir, what I can I do for you?" Clearly this was Verizon's greatest mistake in not having this a woman deal directly with the customers.

"The gentleman can't seem to grasp all the problems with the phone."

She looked over at him and then at me. "It needs a new battery."

I looked back at him. "What part of that didn't you understand?"

The woman walked away and he & I looked at each other for a good thirty seconds until he said, "What?"

"Well, obviously, I need to buy a new battery. Can you ring one up?"

He looked confused. "I'm not sure." Then he turned to fat woman, who sat just on the other side a six-inch wall, pretending not to have heard any part of this conversation "Can I ring something at this register?" he asked her.

She looked at me and said, "Well, what are you trying to do?"

"For the love of God, all I want is a freaking battery." (I really did say freaking, but it was all could do not to scream at them.)

The guy then leaned over and said, "Do you have the battery?"

"Yes, you see, I'm the Flash (which actually I am) and while you and Miss Helpful were deciding if you have super-register powers, I walked through your store, automatically figured out which of your 300 batteries fits my phone and came back to patiently wait for one of you to comprehend how to actually ring up a sale."

From across the room, my articulate battery tester holds up a battery in her hands and motions for me to come to sales. "He'll be happy to ring you up here," she says.

As I approach her and prepare to pay, I just sigh. "Those folks are morons. Seriously, they couldn't sell me air if I needed it. "

Without hesitation, she replied, "That's why they are in customer service."

Labels:

12 Comments:

Blogger Georgia said...

You've got to get Cingular in June. Everything can be done online or over the phone. And I think they must pay well because all of my customer service agents have been fantastic - they've replaced broken phones without question, they instructed me on how to save ringtones and pictures before switching to the new phone, and my new phone was even upgraded free of charge (in Pink!). Roll over minutes don't hurt either.

Love them...

9:01 AM  
Blogger The Brian said...

It astounds me that the first things companies think to scrimp on to save money is always customer service.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Whit said...

I had a very similar experience with Verizon. We had two phones on one plan and one phone broke. We couldn't replace it until the contract ended, so I took it to several Verizon stores to be fixed and none of them could fix it. The phone was about 3 months old. I was not happy.

I also had to call customer service every single bill due to fraudulent charges on my account. Different fraudulent charges every single bill. Really, every one. I would rather use two tin cans and some string than Verizon again.

Needless to say I was very disappointed in James Earl Jones.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Mamma said...

I'm sorry, but that was hysterical!!

They good cop/bad copped you. She's probably an idiot too, but by comparison...

12:01 PM  
Blogger Daddy L said...

With such slim margins on phones and plans, the phone companies have to cut somewhere; and it's always customer service. When will they understand that the area you have to invest in, those front line workers are the face of the company.

This is what happens when operations people run the business, when really it should be the marketers.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Yondalla said...

My colleagues are all wondering why I am laughing at my computer. Damn! I'm supposed to be grading papers and I really shouldn't be laughing out loud at a student paper.

I'm able to get a new phone from Verizon 2 months before my contract actually ends. I think they want to seduce me into renewing before I am in the position of being able to switch companies. I have been mostly happy with them though.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Georgia said...

By the way...how much are you regretting not doing the Idol recap this season? I would love to read what you think of Sanjaya, his faux hawk and that poor crying 10 year old from last week

1:50 PM  
Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

Dude. This does not bode well for our upcoming DSL install by Verizon. Then again, what could be worse than what they've already put us through before even providing service? Actually, there is something worse--I'll add my tales of Verizon woe to yours . . . you know, if they ever figure out which wires to twist together to hook up our DSL.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

This post actually hurt to read, I can not imagine having to live through it.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Stepping Over the Junk said...

CLASSIC. The worst about bad customer service is when you go somewhere or call somewhere and you don't have the option of walking out because you actually NEED something from them. I have no problem walking out of a store where I don't really need the service or product, but man, the cell phone...I dread going to Verizon. I found a Verizon store that is basically on an "island" and there is usually one rep there and no customers...a little more out of the way than the mall but well worth it.

I generally would like to stick toothpicks up these people's noses..."that's why they're in customer service"....CLASSIC. People just aren't passionate about their jobs anymore these days, they just want to make a paycheck.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Stepping Over the Junk said...

P.S. I have to say, Verizon called me a few months ago to have me renew my contract and I did renew..I never had to go to the store, everything was done quickly and painlessly on the phone and through the mail, which amazed me. Yet, of course, if something goes wrong, who knows?

7:40 AM  
Blogger Mitch McDad said...

I've had more pleasant barbed-wire colonoscopies.

1:15 AM  

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