Friday, July 22, 2016

A Rant About a Bad Experience With a Big Business

CAUTION:  contains strong language.  (But only a little bit)

Prepare yourself for a bit of a rant.  I will do my best to be concise and objective and I apologize in advance if I happen to lose my shit in the course of this missive.

Now, I do try - very hard! - not to be a whiner and a complainer.  I work at being understanding and giving the benefit of the doubt where and when I am at a disadvantage as to the mechanisms that go awry and cause me inconvenience.  I admit quite freely that I am wont to freak out first and ask questions later.  It's a terrible habit, I know... which is why I am working on it.  I have a quick temper.  But after a good rant and a reasonable cooling off period, I can deal with things reasonably.

Sometimes, though, this approach is not conducive to a speedy resolution and I fall back on freaking out.  If nothing else, it does get peoples' attention.  (Give the crazy lady what she wants.  Quickly!) And I do get some measure of satisfaction when a particularly unhelpful person is forced to backpedal!

I get it that people make mistakes.  I make mistakes.  It happens.  I don't have problems with people making mistakes.  What I do have a problem with is people who make mistakes and then try to deny their culpability or pass the buck onto someone else.  That, makes me mad.

So!  A mistake got made a while back.  When I discovered the mistake, I steeled my courage and picked up the phone to call the company that made the mistake to report it.  A very personable young man - eventually! (and I will get to that bit shortly) - won me in the customer service call taker's lottery and answered my call.  He listened patiently to my problem.  He even repeated it all back to me to clarify his understanding.  And then he proceeded to explain to me what was going to happen to ensure that the problem got fixed.  Yay!  I thanked him and hung up, feeling quite good about the entire exchange.

The mistake, I was promised, would be resolved in three business days.  I was good with that.  Immediately would have been better, but I accept that the wheels of corporate bureaucracy, policy and actual service turn slowly in reverse!  I didn't even get upset about the two weekend days that fell amid the three business days, thus delaying the desired result.

On the third business day, I checked - after waiting patiently (not my strong suit) - to see if all was indeed well in my world again.

It was not.

Hmmm....   I felt the creep of annoyance slithering around in the shadows of my psyche.

Another phone call ensued.

This time my call was handled by an efficient-sounding woman who called up my file and informed me that my problem had been resolved.  (Deep breath!)  I explained again that it had not and she grudgingly acknowledged it after leaving me on hold for several minutes.  She informed me that the issue had been referred to the person in charge of my file and that he was working on it.  She gave me his direct number and suggested that if I wasn't satisfied that I should call him.  Great!

I called him.  I got his voice mail.  I left a detailed message, stressing the growing urgency surrounding my situation and requested a call back as soon as possible...

It is now that I need to interject a bit more information about myself.  I swear.  A lot.  Nothing relieves the tension better than a few well articulated epithets.  I am a profound advocate for the f-bomb!  I use it freely and without apology.  (Though I do try to keep my blog relatively profanity free.)

...At this point I had not resorted to swearing.  I had managed to maintain a relative calm about the situation and a faith in the business I was dealing with.  My optimism wasn't exactly soaring; neither was it entirely in the toilet.  But it was getting there.

The guy did call me back.  Unfortunately, I was indisposed when my phone rang and I missed the call.  So I called back.  I got his voice mail.  I left another message.

I was beginning to get worried.  Nearly a week had passed since my initial call and I had no idea if or how my problem was being dealt with.  I elected to call the call centre again and see if I could get some nugget of information about what was going on.

This time I got a cheerful young lady who apologized profusely for my troubles and assured me that they (meaning the business) would do everything in their power to sort things out and make things right.  My optimism retreated from the rim of the toilet bowl and alighted on the top of the tank, still well within sight should a sudden dive become necessary.

The cheerful young lady ever so sweetly suggested that I get in contact with the guy in charge of my file, stating that the whole thing could sorted out much faster with him because he was familiar with my file and it wasn't something she could do anyway.

Really?  The first call centre guy I talked to seemed to think it was something he could do.

But okay.  I will wait for the guy with my file to call me.

The next day he did just that.  And then he proceeded to deny that he had any knowledge of what he said I was "claiming" he told me he was going to do before the mistake happened in the first place and that there was nothing he could do about it now.  I would just have to come in to the office, get the stuff I needed from them to go and fix it myself.

And that, my friends, is when I lost my shit and I started swearing.  (Possibly thankfully, it is also when my phone battery died, increasing the colourful language about six-fold, though saving the guy from having to hear it all.)

During the course of all these phone calls I was told a few different things.  I was told that any charges I incurred as a result of the mistake would be reimbursed.  (They will not be.) I was told that the problem was being resolved when it was not.  I was told that nothing I had been told before the problem was ever said.  I was told that it was all my fault in the first place.  (I sat across the desk from the guy in charge of my file and his boss and listened to him bare-faced lie to me about what had transpired on the day he first became in charge of my file.)

As of 11 a.m. most of the problem has been solved.  There is one outstanding issue, but a completely different bureaucracy is in charge of that piece and is - rather oddly - "unable to help" me at the moment.  I have to wait until August to get an answer from them, though the woman who told me this couldn't tell me why.

"Can't you just look up my account?"  I asked.

"Not until August."  Deadpan.  Probably sick to death of repeating herself.

I elected not to push it.  In my volatile emotional state and her very likely shitty job at this particular time of year, it just wasn't worth it.

And so I wait!

Fuck!  (I don't like waiting.)

And while I wait, I shall ponder the pros and cons of switching my business to a different company.

Now earlier I alluded to the time it took for my call to be answered.  This is, without exception, my biggest pet peeve in the whole world.

Who ever thought that it was a good idea to have business calls answered by an electronic system?  Who!?  And why have they not been drawn and quartered for it?

Just to get to speak to a real, live person, I had to listen to three different "menus", two of which had eight choices that I was expected to remember until the end, key in my account number and answer several "security" questions, all of which I had to repeat when, at long (f-bomb alert!) fucking last, and after being on hold for 6 minutes, a real, live person answered.  WTF!?  How is that a good thing?  It took eleven minutes total from the time I dialed until I got to talk to someone.  Eleven minutes!  I timed it.  It was a complete wonder that I was able to be so  polite to the fellow.  And let me tell you, it took a crap load of will power to slap a smile on my face and be polite by the time he did come on the line.

This is not good business.  It is not good customer service.  It just isn't.  It's appalling!  My blood pressure rises even just writing about it.

I have come to the sad conclusion in my old(er) age that complacency is a huge contributor to the downfall of society.  People, myself included, are so disinclined to speak up against anything.  Sure we get mad and frustrated and we rant to our friends and family (and blogs) about stuff.  But who does anything?

All this mamby-pamby, touchy-feely, go-with-the-flow crap is just getting stupid.  I'm sorry!  I really am.  I hate that I just wrote that, but it is!  It's stupid.

I believe in being loving and kind and compassionate.  I do!  I think the world can benefit greatly from a little more loving kindness and compassion.  At the same time, where is the accountability?  Where is the good customer service?  We're actually supposed to be loving and kind and compassionate, but corporations are allowed to treat their paying customers like crap!?  I don't freaking think so!  It's as if this whole movement toward "spiritual enlightenment" is nothing more than a ploy to get people to just bend over and take crap like this up the wazoo.  Where is the balance?  Where has the humanity gone?

I am neck deep in a pool of righteous indignation right now (and wondering how long before I go all the way under).  As someone who goes out of their way to comply to business' policy and procedure, I don't like being treated the way I was treated.   I try to be a good customer.  I may not always be perfect, but I try.  And when I don't understand something, I ask.  If I make a mistake, I take my lumps.  That's all I ask from businesses.  (And that they answer their damn phones!)  Seems fair to me.

Between the call answer system and the denial and misinformation this business dealt out to me and the broken promises, how can I be expected to continue giving them my business?  The real kicker here is that, for the time being, I have no choice.  They have me by the proverbial short and curlies and I must go along with their policy and procedure.  I wouldn't mind so much if their policy and procedure was known to everyone who works for them and wasn't changed from phone call to phone call or appointment to appointment to suit the whims and cover the asses of said employees when they get called out on it.

I can only work with the information that I am given.  If it isn't the correct information, apparently, I am still responsible for the result if I follow the advice.  What galls me most about this whole thing is this conversation (held today at the business in question and slightly paraphrased to protect the guilty):

Guy in charge of my file:  Your lawyer told you you had to ______________.

Me:  Yes.  And that is why, when you brought it up, I asked you what the best way to proceed was.

Guy in charge of my file:  We don't _____________ that close to the [deadline].

Me:  Why would I ________________  if you didn't tell me to do it that way and that you could take care of it?

Guy in charge of my file:  We aren't going to have this conversation.

Guy's boss:  We can't ___________________ that close to the [deadline].  (This is the same woman who just moments before told me the [deadline] was June 31st.)

I am done ranting for now.  I'm going to go read my book and relax a bit; try to muster up some sanguinity.  Maybe next week will be better.  

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