Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Last night I had some trouble with my cable television service. I called, got put on hold, waited a while, got some poor customer service representative. We worked on it for a while and got the thing fixed. Two hours later I had the same problem only worse (no picture, only sound). So I followed the instructions from the earlier called, but this time it didn't work. So I called Time Warner Cablevision back. This time I was on hold for at least one hour. This time the customer service representative asked me a number of questions which were totally irrelevant. She then tried the same thing the first person did and it didn't work. She came back on and asked me to hold for a few minutes which I did. She came back and told me she was going to switch me to someone in a different department who could help. Before I could say a word I was back on hold. Well, over one hour later (no, I didn't just sit there with the phone to my ear. I put the thing on speaker and read a book) someone new appeared on the line. This guy was not from any other area, just another customer service rep who is no doubt paid next to nothing and given no actual training. He told me all that could be done was to schedule a service visit. Since by now it was late at night he said that visit couldn't happen for two days. I asked to speak to a supervisor. As if! There were none in the building. I'd guess by that time the only people in the building were the two customer service reps I spoke with.

I know this sounds familiar to you. It happens a million times a day across this great land of ours. Unlike many, I refuse to take out my frustration on these poor customer service reps. It isn't there fault. Why can't Time Warner hire enough people to take care of their problems? Why can't Time Warner pay them a decent salary and train them better? Why oh why?

Oh, I know, that would cut into their profits. Anyway, why bother. After all where is the customer going to go. Even if another company is available, the service is no different.

Last week I had a similar fiasco with Best Buy. A few weeks before that it was AT&T.

Keep in mind that as one customer service rep commented in response to an article about the lack of it said, "...managers at his company were often 'too busy concentrating on getting more sales,' to deal quickly enough with customer service issues. 'New sales look good,' he wrote. Money spent on existing customers is just overhead.'”

That's us...existing customers also known as "overhead."

And that's why what the guy in the article below has to say is sooooo true (read it).

So I say hats off to Montgomery County, Maryland which in an ongoing effort to hold Comcast (which by the way is the other cable company here) accountable for its services to more than 180,000 subscribers assessed the cable television provider more than $12,000 in liquidated damages for violating customer service standards required in the franchise agreement. The County has assessed Comcast more than $74,000 in liquidated damages since last January.

“We take customer service very seriously here in Montgomery County,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “Our residents expect and deserve good quality cable television service from our franchisees, and we will continue to hold those companies accountable for being responsive to customer needs.”

Oh by the way, lest I forget, the city council of Moorpark, California last year fined Time Warner Cable up to $25,000 for poor service in answering customer service calls, among other complaints.

The thing is it seems unlikely to me that a few thousand here and there will get the corporate suits attention.

But some citizens have taken the matter into their own hands.

Who amongst us would not stand behind Mona Shaw (pictured above) of Bristow, Virginia? MSNBC reports Shaw, 75, and her husband, Don, say they had an appointment in August for a Comcast technician to come to their Bristow home to install the company's heavily advertised Triple Play phone, Internet and cable service.

The Shaws say no one came all day, and the technician who showed up two days later left without finishing the setup. Two days after that, Comcast cut off all their service.

At the Comcast office in Manassas later that day, they waited for a manager for two hours before being told the manager had left for the day, the Shaws said.

Shaw, a churchgoing secretary of the local AARP branch, returned the next Monday - with a hammer.

"I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor ... and I went to hit the telephone," Shaw said. "I figured, 'Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.'"

Police arrested Shaw for disorderly conduct. She received a three-month suspended sentence, was fined $345 and is barred from going near the Comcast offices for a year.

The Shaws did eventually get phone and television service _ with Verizon and DirecTV.

She said many people have called her a hero. "But no, I'm just an old lady who got mad. I had a hissy fit," she said.

Comcast spokeswoman Beth Bacha said, "Nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior."

Pardon me, but my response to Beth is "Bullshit! Nothing justifies the sort of treatment the big corporations are selling us."

By the way, what do you suppose the CEO of Time Warner or ComCast made last year?

The following is from the blog "Captain Chipmunk Takes on the World."

I Love You, Time Warner Cable
I'm dripping in sarcasm right now

Note to anyone calling Time Warner Cable (and this may be true of other subscription services) - if the endless voicemail prompts say "Press 1 for billing questions, press 2 to add services or upgrade, or press 3 to move or cancel a service," always press #2!

I had a billing question so I naturally pressed 1 and was put on hold for 5 minutes. I had a simple question - "Why did my cable bill go up $30.00 this month?" This seemed like a easy, read-from-the-script answer for the customer service agent. When I got a live person, she told me to hold momentarily to review my account. Apparently, she went to lunch because I sat on silent hold for 30 minutes without a response.

In my rage, I called back to cancel my service and switch to satellite (which I had been pondering for a while anyway). This time, I took option 3. I sat on hold for 15 minutes (this time not silent), with no sign of picking up. They didn't even have the "Your call is important to us/We are experience unusually high volume" messages every 2 minutes. I surmised that I was funneled into a virtual holding room with other pissed off customers by Time Warner where I would sit endlessly until I a) cool down a bit and succumb to the persuasive techniques of their CSRs, b) give up and wait to cancel on another day, thus earning them a few extra bucks and a few more days that I may reconsider, or c) demonstrate to them that I am so upset that I will sit on hold till the end of time and making me wait at the end of the cue makes little difference anyway.

I went for option (b) - I'll cancel another day.

Fast forward a few days. I called again, and in my brilliance I decided to press 2. I didn't get through 3 measures of whatever smooth jazz tune was playing before someone picked up....coincidence, I think not.

I'm going to try that from now on. Whenever I have to call a large company for customer service, I'm going to always tell the automated voicemail that I'm adding a service or what to give their company more money; I don't need to be manipulated by evil corporations!

If you're curious, I never got a straight answer as to why my bill went up...only something about grandfathering in old Adelphia codes and receiving a letter that looked like a flyer that warned of this many months ago that I probably didn't read. Part of me wanted to really get into it at this point, then I felt bad for my poor CSR Miranda who would be on the receiving end and decided it wasn't worth my time or her awkwardness.

I didn't cancel my service (their evil plan worked!) mainly because I didn't want to jeopardize my viewing of the Trinidad v. Jones Jr. fight this Saturday. However, I did lose most of the channels that I rarely if ever watch.

No comments: