Monday, August 3, 2015

Dear Beloved Telecomm Provider ...and furthermore...

Dear Beloved Telecomm Provider,

Are you SERIOUS about thanking me for my over two decades as your customer? If so, we gotta TALK because you putting up some serious roadblocks to me staying your customer. See RantWoman suspects she is paying too much for the services she is buying but she has been willing to put up with it because of wanting stable phone number, because of good voice mail, and because researching alternatives is a pain. But you working HARD to lose me as a customer. Plus,  RantWoman is already also in the decision stream where another account may switch too.  Part of the decision stream has to do with some specific organizational needs, but general bad taste in the mouth could also be a factor...

The short version of RantWoman's tirade:


1. Help me set up a payment arrangement. See notes below about why it is needed.

2. Prorate the amount owed for the time I have not had service.

3. Waive late fees and reconnection charges.

4. Take note: it's election season, RantWoman votes faithfully EVERY TIME so that attracts Robo-callers. RantWoman also, sigh, has other bill collectors who Robocall too. Robocalls to RantWoman have about 3 seconds to provide a human voice before RantWoman hangs up. But RantWoman is PAYING YOU FOR VOICE MAIL. RantWoman actually would APPRECIATE a call from you TO THE VOICE MAIL SHE IS ALREADY PAYING YOU FOR. RantWoman would like any voicemail message to clearly state who is calling, clearly state a call--back number and preferably to leave the next step in whatever conversations need to occur.

5. Take note: RantWoman is aware that she has the option of requesting her bill in either large print or braille. Neither of these would be as helpful for RantWoman as the suggestions above.

6. Take note: although RantWoman aspires NOT to qualify for Lifeline services, she  thinks she actually qualifies for something called Lifeline service. Lifeline is modest subsidy to ensure people have access to minimal services. Rules are arcane and what the subsidy would actually do for RantWoman is a little unclear. Partly because RantWoman aspires not to qualify for this service anyway, RantWoman has decided she has other things more important to do than fuss with paperwork about the topic. RantWoman thinks she regrets not pressing harder about this.
     Come to think of it, on behalf of a lot of people RantWoman knows for whom Lifeline is much more critical,  RantWoman would really like if her bill clearly stated when she is receiving Lifeline, when the subsidy goes away. And as long as RantWoman is expressing wishes, it would be really, really nice if the phone scripts customer service staff use also included recognition that someone is getting the Lifeline subsidy.
    On top of the ambiguity about Lifeline, RantWoman has been WILLING to pay you for voice mail and also DSL. And RantWoman has been willing to put up with repeated exhortations to sign up for higher speed service even though higher speed service is not available in her building. See, RantWoman really is not sure she cares about higher speed service if she already has more to do than she can handle with the service she has. So knocking off the upselling would be appreciated, as would making use of the services RantWoman HAS ALREADY BEEN PAYING FOR.
    RantWoman, come to think of it MIGHT be willing to substitute improvements in customer service  for any upgrade in speed for the same price, although lower price would never be terrible.

The longer version:
RantWoman a couple months ago inadvertantly sent the amount she intended to pay for her phone bill to her electric bill. RantWoman is not sure how she detected this but she remembers trying to send email to Beloved Telecomm Provider late at night. For RantWoman's trouble she got back an email within a couple days. RantWoman actually does not have a lot of free time during business hours though and the email languished.

RantWoman is responsible for not reading the email in a timely way. RantWoman guesses she is also supposed to thank Beloved TeleComm Provider for providing in the email not an effort to address RantWoman's specific problem but a direct phone number to bypass at least one layer of your phone queue.

RantWoman thanks Beloved TeleComm Provider for sending email notifying RantWoman that her service has been disconnected. RantWoman could check to see whether the email arrived on her birthday but it definitely arrived when RantWoman was out of town.

When RantWoman returned to town, she called the number listed in the reply email. RantWoman clearly hit an overseas call center. RantWoman clearly hit someone STRUGGLING with the English language. RantWoman strives to be tolerant of both accents and language learner challenges, but something about that call made RantWoman hit a wall.
See RantMom is also a customer of Beloved Telecomm Provider. RantWoman is a terrible daughter in that she sometimes tells RantMom that there are people on tech support lines getting paid to know the current up-to-date answers to RantMom's questions. RantMom is resolutely monolingual, a native English speaker who sometimes fusses even with US regional accents. Plus RantMom has a hearing loss and no hearing aids--Yet. If it had been RantMom calling, someone like RantWoman would have had to do English to English relay.

Much as RantWoman wanted to be encouraging of young people driven to work impossible hours in a language then can barely converse in with scripts that give them NO flexibility, RantWoman decided she should NOT be having to bend over that far backwards to support someone who was providing bad service anyway.

No RantWoman could not make a payment arrangement without paying the full amount.

NO RantWoman cannot pay you the full amount. RantWoman's monthly income never stretches for everything needed anyway. RantWoman has some self-employment but it arrives in lumpy patterns that RantWoman cannot always predict. So NO, RantWoman could not pay the full amount. RantWoman thought of asking to be transferred to a supervisor but she had exhausted the amount of time she had available at that moment to deal with the problem.

RantWoman decided there really was no point in spending more time in phone queue hell at that point. RantWoman was waiting on a check and had nothing at all to offer until the check arrived.

RantWoman has since tried again to the same number as before HOPING to set up a payment arrangement. The first customer service voice was at least slightly easier to understand than the previous call. Customer Service Voice wanted a whole bunch of additional information including RantWoman's employer. Look RantWoman just told you she is self-employed and has several clients. And RantWoman resents being asked for this information when she is trying to set up a payment plan so she can get back to doing the things that are supposed to earn her money!

RantWoman decided to just see how long she was going to be on hold. Tolerable hold music. 10, count them 10 iterations of a message something like "Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received." Then RantWoman got transferred to a voice that sounded like it probably came from someone with an identifiable US accent. But then RantWoman got transferred to limbo. RantWoman hung up. The phone call time said 27 minutes and RantWoman has other things to spend time on!

At this point RantWoman's service has been disconnected for almost three weeks. RantWoman has had multiple horrible experiences by phone and dreads even trying again. You, beloved telecomm provider haven't responded by email. Your phone staff wanted a work number without realizing that you have cut service from a number RantWoman uses in lieu of a secretary. RantWoman has been paying you for voice mail and if you have been robocalling and not leaving a message, the message is NOT getting through.
RantWoman cannot pay the total amount due at once. RantWoman needs service restored immediately. RantWoman wants the billing prorated for time her service was disconnected. RantWoman believe it or not really does not want to switch providers partly because she dreads having to put up with terrible service from someone else.

Consider for instance voice mail to text. One of the providers the group RantWoman is talking about wants to consider offers voice mail to text conversion. RantWoman thinks this MIGHT be useful, but a high percentage of the people who call have some kind of accent. RantWoman has been watching non-English speakers in a medical setting interact with some kind of voice-activated gizmo. The people with accents all consistently have to repeat their comments multiple times. RantWoman is NOT charmed by the implications of this in a medical setting but is willing to crash-test it if a decision to switch to another provider is made.

But for RantWoman's personal business....

Okay. Now RantWoman will calm down and try again tomorrow.


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