Customer “Service”

Customer Service is mislabeled.
It should be called Customer Frustration. Or Customer Baiting. But not Service.

Has this ever happened to you?

Customer Service Rep: HellomynameisJasonmayIhaveyourserialnumberdateofpurchasedresssizeandreasonforcalling? (I’m just guessing about that dress size thing, because they talk so fast that you can’t possibly understand everything they’ve just said.)

Ummm, okay, “Jason,” I don’t have the date of purchase, but I’m calling because my computer won’t boot into Windows. It turns on, but the cursor just blinks on a black screen. I can hear the hard drive spinning, but no boot-up. I’ve tried restarting in safe mode, doing a hard reset, reseating the hard drive, checking all the other cables, and I’ve run several diagnostics. Here’s what the diagnostics show…

“Jason”(whose driver’s license most assuredly does not say “Jason”): BeforedoingthatcouldyoupleasecheckIsTheComputerPluggedInToTheWall?

(can’t possibly answer. You’re speechless with anger.)


You (in a whisper that used to indicate to your kids that they’d better run):
Yes, “Jason,” the computer is plugged in to the wall. Did you not hear anything else that I just said?

I know I am not alone in this frustration. It’s happened to me more times than I care to recall. It happened again on Friday. But this should have been simple. Especially because it wasn’t by phone, it was in writing.

So here’s what happened.

When I logged on to our yearbook site on Friday morning, instead of the usual home page I found a status splash page that said, among other things, this:

What the heck? We’d submitted those pages on January 18th. I’d stood beside my Editor in Chief as she clicked the Submit button on each page with a bit of bravado that day, as this was her very first actual submission and she’d worked very hard to get these pages designed & finished to her satisfaction. Clicking on the “View Page Groups” link to see what it had to tell me, I found that indeed the company didn’t have our pages logged as Submitted. I knew it had to be some kind of mistake or computer glitch. So I decided to use the Need Help? button to send an email to tech support rather than call, as I assumed this would be an easy, oh-we’re-sorry-we-missed-that sort of oops. Here’s what I said:

My status report is showing pages 1 through 8 as Overdue and In Progress – not Submitted. We submitted pages 1 – 8 on January 18. The ladder also shows them as  Submitted (no buttons available.) Please correct the status of these to show them as Submitted. Thanks.

About an hour later, here’s what came back:

Click the View Page Groups via the Home Page:Deadline tab. This will show the groups which can be submitted.

Thank you,

As I had not asked how to ascertain which groups could be submitted, I was puzzled. Maybe I hadn’t been clear in my request. I re-read the request. Nope, pretty clear to me. This company’s customer service unit is in the south; maybe I was typing with a distinct Yankee nasal twang. Maybe Amy was trying to fulfill a long-held expectation of the good customer service rep (I know this, because I used to do that job) and answer the question the customer hasn’t yet asked.  But generally you do that after you’ve solved the problem that the customer did raise, or if the customer is so vague in his request that you have to probe for more info. So I tried again. This time I attached pictures, just in case Amy wasn’t all that good with the English.


That is not what I asked. I DID click on the View Page Group. It is showing our submitted pages as “In Progress.” They are not. They have been submitted.

I’ve attached two screen shots illustrating my point. Ex1 shows the View Page Group with pages 1 – 8 as “In Progress.” Ex2 shows the ladder pages with no buttons on those pages.

As I requested the first time – please fix this or tell me what’s wrong so that I can fix it. Thank you.

There. THAT was as clear and pointed as it could be. I sent it off, certain that this would fix the communication problem and the next email I received would say “We’re so sorry. It’s fixed now!”


After my next class, I checked my email with the certainty of a clear communicator who is expecting a satisfactory resolution to the problem. Here’s what I received, and I am not making this up:

The pages will need to be unlocked before the Complete button will appear again.

Thank you,

Once again (and this seems to be a theme running through my life) I wondered if I’d forgotten how to understand English. I truly did not know whether to laugh or cry at this point. What I did do is shout “OHMIGOD THAT IS NOT WHAT I ASKED!” at the screen. A colleague poked his head into my room and asked if everything was okay. I mumbled something about crappy customer service and forwarded the whole mess to my yearbook sales rep, whose continued income depends on the yearbook adviser (me) being happy with his company. I’m still waiting for an answer, although I have to admit I’m half afraid of what the next email might say:

Thank you for your favorable service question. You will need to restart the computer and empty the internet before proceeding. Have a nice day!




About techlady911

Still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. Pictures are my lifeline, words are my wings.
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29 Responses to Customer “Service”

  1. cbowiephoto says:

    I love customer service representatives!! There title so fits their service!! haha

  2. Sheherzadas says:

    if you makes you feel any better i had about the same thing happen to me just last week. only it was a credit card company… You do have to give them credit its hard to talk as much as they do and NOT answer a question… i think they have to take a class on how to do that…

  3. The Heretic says:

    I hate customer service anything. I’ve only had some rare instances where they actually understood what I was saying and got what I needed corrected or fixed.

    When I went to do a reformat of my previous computer and reinstall XP. When everything rebooted after installing and setting up I got a screen lock and was directed to a phone number to call. I actually had to call Microsoft’s costumer service to get Windows XP. After dealing with the foreign gentleman who did the same fast talk as you described. He then asked me if I had any comments to be taken down before hanging up. I thought about it and politely told the gentleman, “I will be switching to either Apple or Linux.”.

  4. wildstar84 says:

    Great article, so typical! I’m w/The Heretic though – get Linux! It never ceases to amaze me how computers are supposed to simplify and automate our lives, instead they seem to always make everything much more complicated and time-consuming. (& I work in computers, lol)!

  5. HollyD says:

    I hate calling places when I need help. I hate playing 20 questions with service reps because I always lose. Always. Now? I’ve started asking them vague questions to see how frustrated they get, because I can assure you, no matter how irritated they get, I’m more irritated! They should offer a prize or a plaque or something for just getting through those conversations.

    I work at a Bank and sometimes I have to play customer service rep to those customers —->(pleasefixthisformebecauseidontunderstandhowtoaddmycheckbooktogetheranditsallyourfaultjerkface!)

    And no matter how many times you explain their books to them, they don’t get it. And that helps me feel sorry for customer service reps..except.EXCEPT…

    Have you ever called your local phone company? I wasn’t aware that my phone company AND internet provider help service was located in who knows where far off middle east somewhere. Could someone explain these things to me? My internet/phone company is located in Harrisburg, the darn capitol of PA yet they outsource to who knows where middle east.

    I will say though, service reps sure make it easy to learn how to do things on your they are absolutely no help.

    Unless you call me 😉 but only for your banking. You’re on your own other wise, especially since I cannot fake a middle eastern accent.

    • techlady911 says:

      Oh, I love your tactic of asking the service reps your own vague questions. A little bit of sweet revenge, with no real damage.
      I do not call my phone company, as I do not have to – they call me at least a couple of times a month just to see if I might want to purchase even more outrageously priced “services” from them. Much as I’ve tried to ask them as nicely as possible through clenched teeth to please not call me anymore, I’ll call them when I want something, thank you – they still check. Just to be sure.

  6. The only thing worse than bad customer service is when I get exasperated and sarcastic with a rep and then find out that the solution they were suggesting really did work, I just didn’t do it right. Humiliating.

  7. irishsignora says:

    I’ve hit the point where I Google the company name and the words “live person” or “Executive offices.” It’s wonderfully effective to call the corporate office and leave voicemail for the VP of consumer relations 😉

  8. Corinne (attemptsatcreativity) says:

    I cannot count the number of bad experiences I’ve had with “Customer Service.” Thankfully, the good ones outnumber them (but, of course, the bad ones are more memorable). There was the time the phone company tossed me around to about 10 different people before I got one person who could explain what the problem was with getting my bill straightened out. There was the time when the truck rental place tossed me around to about 5 different people, and then someone hung up on me when I asked to speak to her supervisor. But I think my favorite story to tell is about our in-company tech support. Whenever we had a problem with the system, they would ask, “Did you login differently today?” Now, we have one user name and one password–how could we possibly login differently? I always wanted to say, “Yes, I was standing on my head. Is that a problem?”

  9. cravencreativity says:

    VERY well written! You perfectly describe the hell that we all go through when having to deal with a customer “service” rep. I think their goal in life is to see how angry they can make the customer.

    • techlady911 says:

      Thank you!
      Here’s the worst part – for me, anyway: In a former life I supervised the customer service unit for a Fortune 100 corporation’s in-house self-insured health benefits plan. I *know* that customer service is truly not that complicated to do well. You just need a desire to actually HELP the person on the other end of the line. That’s why it is doubly frustrating to me when I get half-assed feeble attempts to answer my questions. My impulse is to retrain them on the spot. But of course, that would be stupid because they couldn’t care less – otherwise they’d do their jobs better!

  10. brendamarroy says:

    I’ll try everything except standing on my head and whistling Dixie, before I call or contact customer service. When I get the most frustrated is when I get one who does not speak clear English. After talking to a customer service person from American Express, I hung up so frustrated I sat at my desk and cried. If I could have reached through the phone I would have slapped her, and I don’t slap people nor am I an angry woman.
    Dealing with customer service is a lesson in learning how to deal with frustration. The majority of them don’t seem to have the ability to hear what I’m asking, or maybe I don’t know how to ask clearly. All I do know is that I hate having to make that call, send that email, or get on the chat line.
    In all fairness though, I have had some positive experiences where I was heard and my question was answered and my problem fixed.

    • techlady911 says:

      I feel your pain. Although I haven’t ever been frustrated to the point of tears, I’ve actually just left laptops sit unused, waiting for an eager nerd student to try to fix them, rather than battle with certain company’s tech support.
      But you are right – we need to give credit where it’s due. I actually have had good experiences as well. Not enough, but some.
      Thanks for reading.

  11. millodello says:

    Measles we have a vaccine for. A satellite in space can read my car’s licence plate. Dogs will forgive every stupid mistake their master makes. The rest of us can’t understand each other on the phone even with a good connection when one of us is a customer and the other a service specialist. Our only resort is the manual overide key. Use it to unlock the rooftop fire exit door and throw whatever it is that doesn’t work off the side of the building onto the street below. Buy a new one with the money you are not going to pay your analyst.

    • techlady911 says:

      If only you knew how many times a day that temptation rises in my chest! In fact, just today – as I tried desperately to figure out why a teacher’s laptop had suddenly decided to connect to wireless but not connect to the internet, I gazed out the second-floor window to my right, fantasizing about the sound the laptop would make as it shattered on the blacktop below.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  12. cowgirliz says:

    I’m not sure which is funnier, the original post or your replies to comments!
    I kept getting automated calls from a private student loan company (that I have a loan with and am current with)… It went like this, my phone would ring and I would answer it to hear an automated message asking me to “please call for important information regarding my student loan”. I call them back with in a short span of time, to the same number/department the call originated from… I get passed on to another department (after being on hold for however long) then passed back, they couldn’t figure out why I was being called, or how to make the calls stop. I was sweet as pie with them though, every time they called and wasted my time I was more than happy to call them back and waste their time. Each new person that I was transferred to I would explain in detail what was going on. I think the last couple of times I kept the service rep on the line for at least ten minutes to ‘help’ me with my problem of why I was getting automated calls. After about five days of this the calls stopped.

  13. 1stjoeyanna says:

    I so hear your frustration! I too, have had the unfortunate dealings with customer service(aggravation)! I usually get someone with a very difficult accent, and at the end, I realize that I know my computer fixes better than them. Hope they’ve learned something from my phone calls! HA-HA

  14. techlady911 says:

    (Whispering) Be very, very careful about learning too much about how to fix a computer – that’s how I got saddled with the tech support job here at school…lol!

  15. Anna says:

    I spent the last three years in customer service at a supermarket and now I’m doing the same thing in an office! Trust me, everyone hates it, customers and customer-servicers alike! Actually ‘customer-servicers’ sounds a bit misleading also. Would you like to be serviced in the backroom? No? Well then take your videoconferencing software and kindly leave my store, Sir.

  16. brendamarroy says:

    Was this message meant for me?

        Brenda Lightfeather Marroy



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