Nov 01

customer service hell

welcome to customer service hell!

in this consumer season of unbridled spending and retail gluttony, it’s refreshing to me that the average consumer hasn’t been overlooked in the rush..

what the fuck ever. i’m getting boned here, and not in a good way. witness:

my mortgage.

biggest purchase i’ve ever made, likely to be the one of the biggest i’ll ever make. anyone who’s a homeowner will agree with me on this one: you expect some level of courtesy, of respect from the bank that’s handling chunks of money with your name attached, in amounts with six figures to them. some level of support, of trustworthiness, of basic competence is expected, nay, taken for granted.

so my bank, whose website has a popup ad on the homepage – real classic – who purchased my loan from my bank of choice – North American Mortgage Co. whose website looks like ms. jenkins’ third grade class designed it, but did nothing but help me through the purchase of my home, care for my interests, and ease my worries in the process. professional, courteous, competent. i even refinanced with them again when the interest rates dropped through the floor.

then they sold my account to another bank, whose entire customer base is purchased from other banks overstock.

a bank who, in august, had a computer problem that prevented payments delivered on august 1st being posted and processed until august 24th or so, which screwed the billing cycle for september. no statement came before september 1st, so i called and the helpful customer service guy said to stick my check in an envelope with my account number written on it and send it on its way.

while i’m on it, why is it that so damned many customer service phone systems require that i punch in my customer number, serial number, PIN, SSN, etc, just to have to recite all the same numbers to whoever i finally talk to when i finally do reach a human being? i have had the experience with reputable institutions where the numbers i punch in on the phone actually appear on the computer screen of the lucky sod i get to talk to, why not more? but i digress.

so i sent my check away on the first of september, with my account number clearly marked. a few days later, the september statement came. oh well.

then last month, the september statement came again. big deal, i think, their system is just a little out of whack. i pay my loan off for october and forget about it for another month. last week the statement came again, with a late charge, saying my october bill is already overdue and my september (having been paid) was 30 days past due, thus i owe a late fee.

but, says me, my checkbook balances (amazing feat, that) so they must have deposited all my checks, one a month, for the last several months. so i call, and i jump through hoops, and watch my “late” fees pile up, and my credit report get thwacked every few days as my tardiness adds up.

it’s all supposedly taken care of – after 3 faxes, 5 phone calls, and about a thousand digits punched into a touchtone phone, both to my real bank (the guys whose name is on my checks) and to the mortgage jerkoffs, who refuse to talk to one another, even when i offer to put them both on a conference call to duke it out.

then there’s my new iBook. a glorious little machine, the perfect compliment to my computing experience, not to mention my living room and back porch.

the ‘book, which i purchased with 18 months interest-free at crapusa, er, compusa (see previous minirant) has performed flawlessly. however, i examined my monthly statement today, and noticed that the accrued interest (considerable sum) of six months will be due by the end of december.

last time i checked, from july to december in the same year is only six months, not 18.

so i called. and called. and dialed, and punched and blooped and bleeped until finally i spoke with sharonda. her name isn’t important, but that’s what it was. sharonda.

i tell her my situation, she does the math, and says that, though it’s possible for her to fix the problem (change 2001 to 2002 and be done with it), the computer tells her that there is no 18 month option available, or wasn’t at the time of purchase. this, of course, is why i kept the flier that advertised the 18 months no interest option that was available only through july. i knew they were going to pull this kind of shit, so i saved everything.

compusa, of course, is not who i’m talking to. i’m talking to the financing company who handles the compusa financing accounts. they tell me i will have to talk to compusa – the “vendor” – to get the situation resolved.

i call compusa. predictably, they tell me i have to talk to the financing company, since their records indicate they gave me the 18 months.

it happens every fucking time. i had better get all this cleared up before the christmas buying season starts, or i’m liable to get lost in the onrush of poorly served customers. the saga continues. stay tuned

oh well, i know where the store is, and i know how to make molotov cocktails. you do the math.

oh! and don’t get me started on time warner cable. briefly, they raised my rates twice in two months, once for standard cable service, then again for roadrunner service. supposedly roadrunner was upgrading, so i could now use a dialup account when i’m on the road (like when i go home for thanksgiving!), hence the additional charge. the fine print that i read when i went to look up an access number, however, says i must a: use their proprietary dialup client which doesn’t work on macs and b: pay to use the service if i use more than a certain number of minutes a month. if i recall correctly, on the order of $.99 per minute. highway robbery. (i won’t mention that the cartoon network keeps going off the air right in the middle of dragonball Z every damned day lately.)

so i switched to earthlink. not only is it cheaper, but it also includes complete earthlink dialup access at – get this – no extra charge! and, oh yeah, i was set up and using earthlink in a matter of minutes, literally.

i called. i said i want to switch. i said i wanted this username. i got a webmail address to check for status. a few minutes later i check, and it’s already set up. i didn’t even need to have a service guy come out and do anything, or switch the modem, or change my conmputer’s setup at all. the only difference on my end is a: i pay about $5 less per month than before and b: i have a different IP number block when i connect.

that is customer service.

Nov 01


christmas music is probably my favorite kind of music, and there’s nothing that really defines the “holiday” season like hearing ‘carol of the bells’ or ‘white christmas’ or, my favorite, ‘greensleeves’ in public places, the radio, everywhere. it’s comforting, in a weird ‘it’s a wonderful life’ kind of way. once a year, we get all gushy about snow, and stars, and presents…

but for crying out pete’s sake, it’s barely november!

is there not a law or something that says you can’t hang up christmas decorations until thanksgiving? or at least until you’ve had a thanksgiving display up for a week or so? cripes, the grocery store and the doctor’s office both went straight from halloween to christmas. and thanksgiving is even early this year…