A Disconnect Between The Paperwork And The Cable Guy

, , , , , | Working | August 14, 2018

(We are going through a financial tight time. One of the ways to cut back is the cable. It’s 2005, so we still have the analog — no receiver needed — service and the digital — receiver needed — service. By talking with a sales agent, we conclude that keeping the digital service only, with one receiver, is cheaper with more channels than keeping the analog service. I do know that they will have to come and install a trap, a filter, to prevent us from cheating and using the analog signal in other rooms. I usually don’t lunch at home, but I live and work in a small village with roughly ten minutes’ walking distance between the two. My girlfriend is out of work, so today I decide to go have lunch at home. Lo and behold, that day, during lunchtime, there’s a service truck from the cable company that stops in front of the house. We’re watching the living room TV from the kitchen. The tech gets his ladder, and climbs the post in front of our house. We get disconnected. I’m thinking, “He’s installing the trap,” but then, he gets down and puts his ladder back on the truck. I get out to confront him.)

Me: “Hi. You disconnected our cable?”

Cable Guy: “Yes. That’s what I had to do.”

Me: “That’s not supposed to be so. We switched to digital only. You should install a trap for the analog signal, not cut us off.”

Cable Guy: *in an annoyed tone, taking his worksheet* “Listen. That’s not my problem. I have it right here. See? I need to dis– Oh… I have to install a trap… Sorry, I’ll get right on it.”

(I go back inside to finish my lunch. He puts his ladder against the post, climbs up, gets down, removes his ladder. We still have no signal. I run out again.)

Me: “Excuse me, but we have no signal.”

Cable Guy: “Can’t be, I just replugged you.”

Me: “I don’t know what to say. I have no signal. Can you check it out?”

(He grumbles and takes his ladder again. I go back inside and turn my forty-inch rear-projection TV towards the window. He climbs up, gets down, gets in his truck, gets back up again, and poof! We have signal. Since it is time for me to go back to work, I walk out and talk to him as he is putting his ladder back to his truck — for the third time.)

Me: “So, what was the problem?”

Cable Guy: “Oh. The center pin broke off. I had to redo the connector.”

Me: “Well, heck of a good thing I happened to be there today. And please, for your next customer, take the time to read your work order properly, and ensure the job is well done before leaving? It would have been h*** to figure out what went wrong with our cable, if I hadn’t been here. Have a good day.”

(I waved my girlfriend goodbye, showing him at the same time that she was watching him.)

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When The Internet Is Internot, Part 2

, , , , , , | Working | August 13, 2018

In my mid-twenties I left my hometown — a medium-sized city — to do a four-year university program in a small town an hour and a half away. As is now the norm, my program required high-speed Internet, so I investigated what was available. There weren’t many options for a reasonable price, and I ended up opting for [Unknown Company], which contracted out installation to [Slightly Better Known — but more expensive — Company].

The afternoon before the full day I had to set aside for installation, I had cell phone trouble and wasn’t able to use my phone for a few hours. When I got back the ability to check my messages, I had one from [Unknown Company] “reminding” me — they’d never told me — that I needed to pick up a modem from their office prior to installation. They had already closed for the day when I got the message, so the next morning I was at their office five minutes before they opened, at the exact start of the potential installation window. Unfortunately, the only person working there didn’t show up until twenty minutes after they opened, and by the time I got back to my apartment, the tech had already come and gone. Apparently, they installed my Internet, just without attaching the modem. I tried the modem. It failed. I called the company. They couldn’t find my system. They told me to book off the next day to have a tech come by. I waited around for ten hours and no one showed. I called them. They booked off the next day. I again waited around for ten hours and no one showed.

I showed up at their office again and told the employee there that I was sitting in that d*** waiting room until I got Internet service. I was near tears, frustrated, home sick, and lacking the only connection I had with family and friends — my cell was crap. The employee made calls, but because [Slightly Better Known Company] was the one doing the installation, [Unknown Company] “couldn’t do anything.” Finally she told me that I had been booked for another service day and I gave up. My building superintendent agreed to let the tech in if they showed because I needed to actually go to classes. He mentioned then that he had looked at the splitter that the tech had installed and thought that it looked like it was backwards, but, “What do I know? I know nothing about technology.”

The next day a tech actually called me saying he was on his way, and actually showed up at the door. He took one look at the splitter, turned it around, and the problem was fixed. They did end up giving me a month of free Internet… but I still switched companies as soon as I could afford it.

When The Internet Is Internot

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Murphy’s Law: Online Edition

, , , , , , | Working | June 8, 2018

(I decide to move closer to my college to make it easier to get back and forth to class. We move all our utilities over, keeping our home phone and high-speed Internet through the same company, which is one of the largest communications companies in Canada. About three months after we move and after the school year has started, my maternal grandfather passes away. Once the initial shock has passed, I go to email my professors to let them know I won’t be in classes for the remainder of the week, but I can’t get on the Internet. Being in a computer program, I check all my equipment, and am certain it isn’t my end, but I am too exhausted to deal with it, assume it is a blip, and go to bed, planning to send the email in the morning. However, in the morning it is still not working, so I root out my last bill and call the number on it.)

Customer Service Agent #1: “Thank you for calling [Internet company] tech support. My name is [Customer Service Agent #1]; how can I help you?

Me: “My Internet service has been down since at least last night. I’ve checked all my equipment, and it doesn’t appear to be my end. Is there an outage in the area?”

Customer Service Agent #1: “There are no outages that I’m aware of, but can I get your account number to take a look?”

Me: *gives account number and answers some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #1: “I see. Your account has been shut down due to a billing issue.”

Me: “That’s not possible. I have my last bill in front of me, and according to my notes on it I paid it through my Internet banking on [date], which was well over a week before it was due. I would log into my bank to verify, but I have no Internet.”

Customer Service Agent #1: “I’m not really sure what happened, then. Let me get you over to someone in billing to get this sorted out.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

(After several minutes on hold, another person picks up.)

Customer Service Agent #2: “Thank you for calling [Internet company] billing. My name is [Customer Service Agent #2]; how can I help you?”

Me: “I’ve not had any Internet access since last night. I was just speaking to a tech support agent, and he said it was a billing issue and transferred me to you. Can you help me straighten this out?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “Okay, let’s take a look. Can I get your account number?”

Me: “You didn’t get it from the last agent?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “No, they blind-transferred you.”

Me: *gives account number and answers some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #2: “Okay, apparently we don’t have your billing information on file, which is why your account was shut down. I’ll need to take either your credit card information, or your bank account information for direct withdrawal, to get the account active again.”

Me: “I’ve never given you that before, and I’ve been a customer of yours for several years. You’ve always billed me, and I’ve paid through my bank.”

Customer Service Agent #2: “No, we don’t bill people. We do direct withdrawal, either through your bank account or through a credit card.”

Me: “I have proof in my hand that says otherwise: a bill with both my home phone charges and my Internet charges. I’ve been a customer for several years, and that’s always how it’s been. All of my charges have come together on a bill and I have paid them. Why can’t that continue?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “I’m not really sure. Let me get you over to billing for [Main Company], and they may be able to tell you what’s going on. One moment.”

(I am put back on hold again before I can protest. After several minutes, another agent picks up.)

Customer Service Agent #3: “Thank you for calling [Main Company] billing. My name is [Customer Service Agent #3]; how can I help you?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’m really getting frustrated. I haven’t had Internet service since yesterday. I’ve spoken to tech support, and they say it’s a billing issue. I’ve spoken with [Internet company], and they’re insisting that I have to give them a credit card, which I don’t have, or my direct withdrawal banking information, which I also don’t have handy. I have always had all of my [Company] charges just billed to me, and I don’t understand why this has suddenly changed. Is there any way we can keep the current arrangement?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “Can I get your account number, please?”

Me: “You don’t have it already?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “Nope, you were blind-transferred.”

Me: *tries not to be overly testy as I give my account number and answer some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #3: “Yes, you did have it on billing, but [Internet service] normally needs to do direct payment, either through your bank account or through a credit card. If you can give me either of those, I can reinstate your Internet service right away.”

Me: “I just told you I don’t have any of that information at the moment. Why the sudden change? I’ve been a customer of [Company] for four or five years now, and it’s never been a problem before. I even used to get my [Satellite Service] charges on the same bill, but I had to cancel that since I’m now a student and not working full-time. I’ve always paid my bill on time, so it’s not that I’m a delinquent customer, so I don’t understand why I can’t pay as I always have.”

Customer Service Agent #3: “The only way I can get the Internet back up for you is to get direct payment information from you now.”

Me: *feeling defeated* “I just need to send an email to my professors to let them know that I won’t be in class for the next few days because my grandfather passed away, before I go and spend time with my grieving family. You’re absolutely sure that there’s nothing you can do to help me out here?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “I’m sorry, but no.”

Me: “Can I speak to a supervisor, please?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “I don’t think that a supervisor will be able to help.”

Me: “Just let me speak to a supervisor.”

(Suddenly back to hold music. I have now been on the phone for almost an hour and I am genuinely upset at this point, and the hold music seems to go on forever. It is also now past time that I should normally be in a lab, and I wanted to email my professors before classes began, so I am especially unhappy.)

Customer Service Agent #4: *in a somewhat surprised tone* “Thank you for calling [Main Company]. My name is [Customer Service Agent #4]; how can I help you?”

Me: “Are you a supervisor with [Company]?”

Customer Service Agent #4: “Yes, I am. What can I help you with?”

Me: *fighting to not cry on the phone* “You are now the fourth person I have spoken to with regard to what should be a very simple issue. My Internet service was cut off at some point yesterday due to [Internet Company] not having my direct withdrawal information or credit card information on file. I have never put that information on file, as [Company] has always billed me for the charges for both my Internet and home phone service directly. I am not sure why this has changed; the timing is incredibly poor, as my grandfather passed away yesterday, and I need to email my professors to let them know why I will not be in class. I just want to be billed as I have been for the last four or five years. Can you please help me with this?”

Customer Service Agent #4: *still sounding somewhat surprised* “So, all you’re after is bundling all your services onto one bill, correct?”

Me: “Yes, that and reactivating my Internet service.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “Of all the… Yes, I should be able to get that done for you. Can I get your account number, please?”

Me: “The last agent didn’t supply that information?”

Customer Service Agent #4: *in an exasperated tone* “No, I’m afraid you were transferred to me blind. I was not given anything.”

Me: “I take it from your tone that this is not normal operating procedure?”

Customer Service Agent #4: “No, it is not.”

Me: *supplies account number and answers verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #4: “Okay, Ms. [My Name], it does look like there was some sort of technical glitch that got your billing switched around to the more standard prepay for [Internet Company]. Give me a minute, and let me get it switched back for you.”

Me: *relieved* “Thank you so much.”

Customer Service Agent #4: *can hear her working in the background* “It always seems that these things happen at the worst possible time, doesn’t it?”

Me: “Murphy’s Law, I guess.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “I know, and I’m sorry. Okay… There. I have it reset back to post-pay, and since your payments are up to date — thank you for that, by the way — your Internet should be back on shortly. It won’t be instantaneous, but it shouldn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Me: “No, but thank you. You’ve been wonderful.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “I’m glad I could help, and let me extend my condolences to you and your family. I don’t think I’d be as calm as you have been if this happened after I had just lost a loved one.”

Me: “Thank you again. Goodbye.”

(True to her word, about ten minutes later I was able to connect to the Internet. I sent the email out to my professors, and left to go support my mother and her sisters. Fortunately, I never had to call their customer service again!)

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Had The Race Card Clocked From The Start

, , , , | Right | May 11, 2018

(I work in a department dealing with troubleshooting and appointment management. I get the shock of my life with this phone call.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Company]. This is [My Name] speaking. How may I help you today?”

Customer: “I don’t know if I need someone who speaks Spanish. If you want to deal with me, you can.”

Me: “I understand you clearly and would love to help you out. May I ask what issue you are having this afternoon?”

Customer: “Yes, a technician was out here today to give me a new box, but it isn’t the box I wanted. I want the one with the clock on it.”

(I then inform the customer that I’m looking over her account to see which box was ordered. I realize right off the bat that she received the box she ordered. We just don’t carry the one with the clock, anymore.)

Me: “I see that you have the box you ordered; unfortunately, we no longer carry that type of box with the clock on the front.”

(The customer then proceeds in what was once well-understood English, and is now a mix of English and Spanish, in a very upset tone.)

Me: “I apologize that we no longer have those types of boxes, and for your inconvenience. Is the box working properly?”

Customer: “Yes, the box works fine, but I still don’t have a clock.”

Me: “Well, there is no way to guarantee that the b—”

Customer: “My son-in-law in [State] just got a box with the clock; why did I not get one?!”

Me: “Ma’am, the warehouse closest to your son-in-law more than likely still had those in stock. We cannot guarantee that the box has a—”

Customer: *becomes enraged* “You’re just discriminating against me because I’m Hispanic and I’m old. Just because I’m Hispanic, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a brain.”

Me: “I understand you perfectly fine, [Customer], and there is no discrimination here. We simply didn’t have a box with a clock in sto—”

Customer: “I want to speak with a supervisor! You’re discriminating against me; you don’t want me to have a box with a clock on it. My son-in-law has one, but I don’t! I want that clock!”

Me: “I’m sorry you didn’t get the box you wanted. And I will get you through to a supervisor, but first I need to know the reason, so I can let them know the nature of this complaint.”

Customer: “I’m being discriminated against because I’m old and Hispanic. You did not give me a box with a clock on it!”

Me: “Okay, I will let them know that, and I hope we can get this issue resolved for you as soon as possible.”

(The supervisor is ready for transfer. I proceed to explain the complaint, word for word as the customer said, and the supervisor lets out a hearty chuckle.)

Supervisor: “So, I’ll just explain to her pretty much everything you just did.”

(I’ll never understand why people always throw the race card into the mix when they don’t get their way.)

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A Lengthy Cable Discussion

, , , , | Working | May 10, 2018

(We had never had cable, so one year I decide to look into it as a surprise for my kids. I call one of the national providers after seeing one of their commercials offering some sort of special deal. After going through the normal sales pitch…)

Me: “Okay, that all sounds good, but I need to know if you can even get a cable down to—”

Agent: “Oh, we can get a cable anywhere!”

Me: “Okay, well, my home is on the backend of my property. Our driveway is about 400 yards, so I was wondering if that would be a—”

Agent: “No problem. We can run the cable from behind your home from one of your neighbors.”

Me: “I don’t have any neighbors behind, or really beside my home. I am surrounded by a 40-acre tract of wilderness. The only neighbors I have are at the beginning of my driveway. They all are customers of yours.”

Agent: “Oh, well, that is a long way to run cable, and there will be a charge for that.”

Me: “I understand that is a longer stretch than what your company usually deals with, but I would like to know how much that will cost.”

Agent: “I don’t know. We need to get a tech out there to measure and scope out the lay of the land, where it ties in, etc., and then we will know how much it will be.”

Me: “Okay, so, when can we get a tech out here?”

Agent: “First, we need to get this contract going and sign you up. Now, what package were you interested in?”

Me: “Wait. Contract? No, I need to know how much it will cost, first.”

Agent: “Oh, we can’t send a tech out there until we have a signed contract, first. It shouldn’t cost too much. So I need your social—”

Me: “No.”

Agent: “No?”

Me: “No, I am not signing an open-ended contract. I need to know how much it will cost, first. Are we talking a $100, $500…”

Agent: “Oh.” *with a laugh* “I doubt it will cost $500.”

Me: “But you don’t know? I need a bit more than, ‘I doubt it will cost…’ I want the cost in writing.”

Agent: “Well, it usually runs around $200. In order to find out, we need to sign you up for service, first, and figure out which package works best for your family.”

Me: “But you aren’t sure? No, I don’t sign open-ended contracts. That is like sending you a blank check. I need to know the price up front.”

Agent: “I have never seen it go too high. You need not worry. Now, about this contract—”

Me: “And what if the price is too high? Can I cancel the contract?”

Agent: “There is the standard cancellation fee of $350 for breaking the contract, but—”

Me: “No, thank you. I am not signing anything. If you can’t give me at least an estimate on paper before signing, I don’t want to do business with you.”

(It worked out better this way, anyway. We prefer reading books and going out and exploring. Cable would have been a waste of time and money for us. Yet they still keep calling and sending me junk mail, trying to get me to sign up for their service.)

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