The Widdershins

Archive for October 29th, 2011

Having spent almost 2 full “freaken” hours on the phone trying to get someone on the other end to explain an error in my gas bill, my frustration level on a scale of 1 to 10 measures a solid 29!

I dialed the 1-800 number and was met with a selection of prompts and chose the one I thought applied. After a few rings, another robo voice then asked a series of questions which basically was their way of identifying me. I was then placed on hold for another few minutes until a customer service clerk would then be made available to help me with my problem.

I was noticing on my cellphone that the minutes on hold were beginning to add up. After 11 minutes of canned music, and an occasional interruption by the robo voice assuring me that I was next in line, I was finally put through to a live voice. And this is where the fun began.

Whoever I was speaking with was somewhere in India. A pleasant enough person but the difficulty we had attempting to figure out my problem was evident on both ends of the conversation. He was no more able to understand me than I was able to understand him. Not casting aspersions here, just stating the facts. The language barrier was presenting a problem as I was asked at least 5 times for the same information that robo voice had elicited before she put the call through. In other words, whatever information I had originally given was not available to the customer service clerk who, because of the language problem, had me repeatedly giving him the basic information needed to access my account. By this time the minutes were adding up even further we were now up to 24.

After the customer service rep finally had what he needed I was then asked to present my problem. This took another 10 minutes as he kept interrupting me for clarification. When I finally was able to square all this away, he then put me on hold so that he may speak to his supervisor whom I am guessing was out of the country owing to the fact that another 7 minutes went by.  My customer service rep then informed me that I had the wrong department!  He graciously then offered another 1-800 number and wished me luck!

I now had to begin again with the prompts, the robo voice, the time on hold, which now showed that another 13 minutes had gone by before I was once again connected to a human being.  This one was female and judging from the accent, resided somewhere offshore.  We went through the same routine, me giving the same information, her interrupting, until I was then free to explain why I was calling in the first place.

We went over my statement and found that, yes indeed, I had been accidentally overbilled and that I needed to speak to another department who, I was assured, would be “more than happy” to make the adjustment. By this time I was close to a breakdown. How inefficient is this? Who actually has the time to set aside up to 2 hours for attention needed to adjust a bill that should only require 15 minutes tops?

After another 10 minutes of exasperation I was told by this third human voice that the correct adjustment had been made and would be reflected on my next bill.  The torture was finally over!

For the sake of company profits people are being replaced by robots and others who have problems with the language barrier.  This was only my gas bill.  This was once a local company that provided service but has now become part and parcel of the multinational global conglomerates with absolutely no interest in serving the customer. Two hours of aggrevation that I will never get back.   (It was almost as painful as sitting through “The English Patient” to give you an idea.)

Efficiency and cost saving measures is not sending jobs overseas when there are plenty of local talent just waiting to do the same.  Where, we ask, have these jobs gone?  This was just one example since I have found myself spending the same length of time when dealing with Comcast and Dell.  I have no idea where I will eventually arrive when dialing an 800 number in a quest for service.  Two hours each time is unacceptable.  Who can afford to waste that much effort just trying to get someone to listen?   

I will have to wait until the next billing cycle to be assured that the problem was actually fixed.  If not, I plan to pack a lunch and settle in for another wasted afternoon just trying to reach someone who can actually help solve the problem without watching the seasons change as I wait.

Until then, fingers crossed.

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