Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007.

I am way too dependent on my computer, have you noticed? When the phone line got disconnected yesterday, (in error, I should add, there was no balance due on the account) I had an anxiety attack. I spent an hour last night and 35 minutes this morning talking to the service reps at AT&T, the first in Louisiana and the second in North Carolina, in my attempts to get service restored. That I worked many years in their position probably helps me to be more patient with them than the regular customer is. It doesn’t keep my blood pressure from elevating to dangerous levels.

In many ways, the service rep is as handicapped as I, the customer, am. Everything is computerized; personal intervention to correct the error is practically useless; the computer overrides their attempts to restore the service the way it was with the number I’ve had for twenty years and want to keep. Last night they told me it would be Monday Dec. 3rd before it could be reconnected, and that was with a different number, but they would send me $120 in rebates for my inconvenience. The rep stayed past her getting off time to handle this, and I was due at church for choir rehearsal, so I did not take additional time to argue with her. I did play the “my husband is a stroke patient” card, so they would expedite the order as a medical necessity. She said her supervisor would call me. I knew her hands were tied.

This morning I called to negotiate a more satisfactory deal - getting service restored TODAY. I pity the poor rep who has to be pleasant while the irate customer steams. When they discover they’re talking to a sympathetic retired Bellsouth service rep, it relieves some of their pressure, until that retiree says, “Now what about my retiree concession? Don’t forget to add that.“ I actually heard the woman’s smile crack and crash. The whole order has to be redone with different codes. She apologetically gave me another number to call for retiree benefits after the service is reconnected, so they can restore the discount.

It’s not an easy job. They aren’t paid nearly enough. I DON’T ENVY THEM, and I’m reminded anew how grateful I am to be retired. Thank you, Jesus!

So now my phone has a dial tone, but my internet service is still not working. I’m venting on Word and will copy and paste this to the blog later. I have no complaints about the personnel involved in my transactions, so far. They have done all they could and kept their cool.

But I would love to get my hands on the S.O.B. who made the decision to subject customers on hold to an unending distorted soundtrack that sounds like 1940’s cartoons. I would like to lock him up for about 24 hours with nothing to do but listen to that crap. He’d be begging for water-boarding, or for his balls to be squeezed in a vice instead.

Surely, with all our technological advances, there is a way to give customers a choice to “opt out” of listening to a never-ending version of William Tell Overture, or whatever that monotonous tune is. It’s garbled, it wobbles in and out; it’s too loud, then it’s barely audible; it projects a very negative, antiquated image. It's enough to make anybody hang up and call the competition in disgust. If I were not a stockholder, I would seriously consider it.

5 hours later. With internet service still not restored, I braved another call, this time to repair service. Rather than classical music, their on-hold sound track was R&B, and the first song I was treated to? “Don’t make me wait,” I kid you not. The Shreveport rep and I both laughed about the irony of that.

It could be 5 PM tomorrow before my internet service is back on, or it could be today. They actually have a Disconnected-In-Error Team who handles nothing but cases such as mine. (The D-I-E team, sounds rather ominous, don’t you think?) That must be one understaffed, busy bunch of folks.

God help us!

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