Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Hell: Customer Service

Hell is talking to a customer service department over the telephone. I think there are souls burning in Hell, with telephone in hand, trying to get some company to correct their bill or to send someone out to fix their cable. That's what hell would be for me, anyways.

I mean, really, is there anything more frustrating than dealing with customer service over the telephone? It doesn't seem to matter if I'm calling my cable TV and
Internet company, Comcast, or if I'm calling Apria, the company my C-PAP machine is through. I even get a headache trying to talk to a real person about a student loan I have through Citibank.

I think cable TV companies like
Comcast and Surewest are the worst. I hate them with a burning passion. They hire the most incompetent people I've ever come across.

My husband and I once got
Surewest TV and Internet. About 30 minutes after our cable was professionally installed, our cable TV went out. I'm pretty good at hooking up electronics. So being the intelligent, electronic savvy girl I am, the first thing I do is I check to make sure there are no loose cables. I reset the cable box. I even unplug everything and wait for it to reboot. Of course none of these remedies work, so then the dreaded phone call to customer service takes place.

Has anyone ever called tech support and
not been put on hold? Surewest takes the cake for wait-time. My husband and I once waited an hour in a half to talk to someone. I wish that was an exaggeration.

What happens after you finally are able to talk to a real person? They are almost always useless. The first thing they ask is, "Are you sure the cable receiver is plugged in?"

Now, I know how customer service generally works. They have a flow chart of questions they have to ask the customer. And I'm sure there are idiots out there who would call customer service when their cable is not even plugged in. But I do not belong in this group of idiots, and it's insulting to be asked these basic questions, especially when it's the third time I've called about the same problem.

After all us non-idiots go through the flowchart of questions and our cable is not fixed, we're usually offered an appointment time that is a four to six hour time block at least a week away, right?

The best part comes after you've made time in your schedule to be home for the four or six hour block of time and the technician never shows. That happened twice with
Surewest.

Now, you would think a company would want to rectify their mistakes and offer some sort of compensation for the trouble they've caused?
Hahahaha. That's a good one!

I did not have working cable TV with
Surewest for over a month. I did have working cable in the bedroom, but not in the living room. From the day we signed up, the cable was out for a month. In this time, we had two no show appointments and two appointments where the guy was able to fix the problem for about 10 minutes, and within 30 minutes of his departure, the cable was again out.

With
Surewest, we had a contract, but per the contract, the first 30 days were a trial period, and we were supposed to be able to cancel. We tried to cancel from the start because it was just unacceptable that we did not have cable TV and that every time we called, we were put on hold for average of 45 minutes to one hour. It took battling with Surewest for about two months, including countless hours on the phone and four scheduled home appointments, that Surewest finally let us cancel our cable TV. They would not let us out of our Internet part of the contract, but we were free of their cable non-service.

Next comes the "credits," right? Obviously since we did not have cable TV for over a month, we were not going to pay the bill. We received a bill in the mail with some of the credits posted to our account, but not all that was promised.

I've found that talking to the billing department is just as worse, if not worse, than talking to technical support. I am a pretty even-tempered, reasonable woman. The incompetence of
Surewest's billing department had me yelling and shaking on the phone. After arguing with billing support that my bill was still not correct, I literally had to walk the moronic billing support guy through the math, step-by-step, to prove my point that they had not credited my bill properly. He was not able to do the very basic subtraction on his own.

If that's not ridiculous, I don't know what is.

Comcast is just as evil. I've had Comcast many different times. I despise them, but in the past, they were not as bad as Surewest, and their promotional rates can't be beat.

Whenever I've had had
Comcast, I've signed up for a package where the cable TV installation is free, and I avoid the Internet set up fee by setting up the Internet myself. Every single time, when the bill comes in the mail, Comcast has charged me the set up fee. I think they do this to everyone in hopes that the customer won't notice or won't fight it. So, this leads to a phone call with the billing department. I can handle that. I've come to expect it when I sign up for Comcast.

When my husband and I moved into our first house in June, we signed up with
Comcast for TV and Internet. The Geek-Squad guy came, hooked up the TV and left the modem and self-install kit for me to set up. I set it up like I have many times before. After going through the self-install process, a message on the computer pops up saying there has been an error, and to call 1-800-Comcast. I call. The guy on the phone is actually very nice and knows exactly what the problem is, but he cannot fix it because his tools are down. I understand that. I have to call back the next day. I am able to get this problem fixed, but I still do not have Internet. The guy on the phone has me check everything that I already know to check. Nothing is fixed, so he gives me an appointment for the very next day. Wow! That's good service...except, no one ever shows. No one shows for the next appointment, either.

I could go on and on detailing this horrid saga, but I'll save you the details.
Comcast had failed to activate the line for my Internet, and had they had given me a bad coaxial cable. I figured all of this out on my own, but it took over a month from someone to come to my house and fix it.

Then came the battle to receive compensation for our troubles. This part got really bad. We were promised a phone call from a manager, which never happened. My husband was hung up on, not once, but twice. It took my husband contacting
Comcast in writing for our bill to be properly credited and to receive an apology for all they put us through, which included shutting off our service twice while we were in dispute over the bill.

The jaw-dropping kicker with
Comcast (other than being hung up on) was that we were calling them day and night trying to get our bill fixed before my husband went in for surgery. After his surgery, he wouldn't be able to talk for quite awhile, so we wanted to get it dealt with beforehand. The night before his surgery, our bill still had not been credited. My husband had his surgery, and we didn't bother calling Comcast until he was healed up. You know what the Comcast jerk said to him, "It's been too long since your last complaint. I can't do anything for you." (And then he hung up.)

We will be canceling our service before the end of the month. We signed up with them in June and it took until January for our bill to be properly credited.

But it's not just cable companies that put me through this hell. It's a universal thing in the world of customer service. I just had to write a dispute to a collection's company because
Apria sent me to collections 10 days after I made my payment! Oh, Apria, how I loathe thee. Let me count thy ways:

Number One: You sent my monthly bill, which I had no idea existed, to an address I have not lived at for almost five years. You did this for six months, even though I was
diligent in making sure the incorrect address was crossed off on my contract and my current address was filled in. I have the copy of my rental agreement proving it.

Number Two: When I finally got a bill in the mail at my residence (after receiving a phone call asking why I hadn't paid my bill), the bill had no explanation of the charges, and it was a rather large sum. You never sent me the original bill; you sent me the bill for the sixth or seventh month, which makes no sense when it's the first bill I've ever seen. Genius.

Number Three: When I contacted the billing department, I was put on hold for so long, that it took me several days to get through to an actual person because I only had so much time after work to sit on the phone.

Number Four: The first three people I talked to had no idea what they were talking about and were totally inept.

Number Five: When I finally talked to someone who could explain some of the charges, and understood my point that I shouldn't be held accountable for the total, especially all at once, since I had no idea I was being charged every month for six months for a product I stopped using within a month, I was told all I needed to do was send in ONE payment to get my account in better standing and avoid being sent to collections. EXCEPT, 10 days after your company received my not one, but two payments, you sent my account to a collection's agency.

And as a bonus, Number Six: You call my phone at all hours, most often in the morning when I'm sleeping, and when I miss the call, you do not leave a message. The only reason I know it's your company calling is that I googled the number and found a message board of people complaining that you are also
harassing them.

Oh customer service, how I loathe thee.

My customer service nightmares go on and on. I spend so much of my time sitting on the phone trying to straighten bills out.

Stanford Sleep Disorders Center is another one high on my sh*t list. I never want to go back there, simply for the hell they put me through over billing and their repeated errors.

In brief, when Stanford called me to set up an appointment, they verified my address and insurance information. They had everything correct. When I went in for my appointment, they made a copy of my insurance card.

Fast forward to when I receive my first bill, not at the address they verified they had on file, but at my mother's address. This bill states that the insurance they have on file: California Healthy Families, says I am no longer eligible for benefits. Well, duh, of course I no longer have Healthy Families. That insurance is for low-income families with children. I had that insurance when I was a minor. I was 23 at this time and had private health insurance. They must have lost all of my information, looked me up in "the system," found my old address and my health insurance I had many years ago (as a minor!), and stupidly billed that.

So what's the next step, everybody? Make that dreaded phone call to correct the error. I give my correct address and insurance information, again, and am told they will bill my insurance and I will receive a new bill.

What actually happens? I receive another bill, at my
current address, stating I do not have health insurance, my bill is past due, and was in risk of being sent to collections.

I went through this process over and over. After about the fourth or fifth time of being sent a bill stating I did not have insurance and they were going to send me to collections, I sent a very angry letter detailing their incompetence and explaining I was now sending them my insurance information for the fifth time, and then
finally they billed my insurance.

Ahhhh! Just reliving those memories makes me want to scream! Who are these people? Where do they come from? How can they be so brainless? How much of my life have I wasted sitting on the phone waiting to talk to these imbeciles?

I'll share one more very brief story.

I had to take out a number of student loans to pay for college. I had my own personal life savings for college, and my mom helped out, but I still had loans. One of my loans is through
Citibank.

I set up an account online to repay my
Citibank loan. For some reason, the account says my login information is not correct, and my security answers are incorrect, which is quite frankly, impossible, and every time I try to log in, my account is locked and I'm prompted to call a number for help.

Since I opted to pay my bill online, I do not get a paper statement in the mail, and the only way I am able to pay my bill is by paying the minimum balance through the automated phone system. I always pay more than the minimum balance on a bill, even if it's just $5 more, so paying by phone is only used as a last resort.

I call the
Citibank student loan number and listen to the menu options, but there is no option to get help with online login information and no option to talk to a live person. I have tried pushing every menu option available in hopes of getting a human being on the other end. I make sure to call during their business hours. I wrote Citibank an email and explained my situation. I explained very clearly that I cannot get a live person on the phone and need to talk to a live person. Their response? They tell me they cannot give me login information through email (I figured that) and they provide me with the same phone number I've been using and instruct me to call that number during business hours.

AHHHHH! It's Hell on earth.

1 comment:

  1. These experiences were preparing you for AT&T!

    ReplyDelete