Thursday, September 6, 2007

customer "service" and the year of the octopus

so i don't know if you've also noticed this, but there are two disturbing trends sweeping the nation and i can't help but feel like just maybe they're related.

trend one: monopolies are back in style. we all learned in US history in high school that back in the day, like maybe around the turn of the century or something, the government started making lots of anti-trust laws to control the rampant monopolization of big business. ok so maybe we didn't all learn that in school, but we would have if our public education system was on a level somewhere higher than absolute shit. point being, what most of us don't know, although i'm sure we've started to suspect, is that most of those laws no longer exist. here are a couple of fun facts for you:

Time Warner: I called some company called cablevision (i think) to try and order cable and internet for my apartment in brooklyn. the representative did something on the computer and then told me in a terrified voice that "oh no no no" she couldn't possibly provide me with cable. i live in time warner's zone. then she fled. upon further investigation, not only is time warner my one solitary option for cable and internet, but Time Warner also owns quite a few things, including AOL, Moviefone, mapquest, netscape, HBO, Cinemax, E!, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, CNN, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and Time magazine. and those were just the ones i felt like writing down because I thought you'd recognize them. there are hundreds more. Additionally, Time Warner is currently involved in some kind of fun deal with comcast, where they jointly own some shit in texas so they can help each other acquire smaller companies. think about what that means. time warner basically owns you, and you didnt even know it.

i'm not even going to list the things coca-cola owns, because you'd have to stop reading this, it's so long.

i could go on for days. we'll just move on to trend 2:

trend two: customer service has been flushed straight down the toilet.
now call me paranoid, but i can't help but think that the fact that time warner is not jumping to hook up my cable might just have something to do with the fact that I have no choice but to wait however long they might decide they want to take. what am i going to do? get my cable from time warner instead? oh wait.

let me share a couple of stories with you about how much fun my move to new york has been.

story one: "luggage is for the weak"
scene 1: O'Hare airport, Chicago, IL
the protagonist, kaya, is waiting for her bags in the baggage claim area. as everyone around her receives their bags and departs, she starts to worry and approaches the desk.
kaya: um, I think my bags might not be coming.
dude (scanning bag claim tickets): oh yeah. they never left washington dulles. we can have those delivered to you.
kaya (fooled by the apparent consideration): that would be great!
(kaya gives dude her address and phone number)

scene 2: evanston, IL. 9:00pm (2 hours after the 'latest' the bags were scheduled to be delivered)
phone rings
kaya: hello?
delivery man: hello, is this kaya, united, red bags?
kaya: i guess...
delivery man: will you be home for the next 3 hours?
kaya: well in 3 hours it will be midnight. my family will be asleep.
delivery man: so yes?
kaya: i'm really going to need my bags before midnight.
delivery man: don't worry.

scene 3: evanston, IL. 1:00am. kaya has just given up on her bags.
phone rings. bags are arriving. they are covered in filth. kaya is excited to see them. what she has yet to realize is that this exact scene is going to repeat itself a mere four days later when she flies from chicago to new york on delta airlines. except that next time, when the delivery man arrives, he won't even have her bags. he'll be just as confused as she is, but that will be no comfort at all.

Story two: "bedding is for the weak"
scene 1: brooklyn, NY. kaya's new apartment. she's psyched because the fedex man has arrived with her bedding two days before she expected! she's puzzled that the package is so small. how could a comfoter fit into such a small package? she opens it to discover that it can't. there is no comforter. puzzled, she tracks the package online and discovers that while the sheets were picked up on the 4th for delivery, the comforter has not had any activity since it was acknowledged on the 3rd that the comforter exists. she picks up the phone to call fed ex.

kaya: hello?
automated system: please listen to the following 46 options, none of which apply to you, and speak your answer clearly into the phone. if you ask to speak to a representative, i will get an attitude with you even though i am a machine, because i'm positive that you are calling about something you could easily have just looked up online, and that you do not have a real problem.
kaya: begins to scream "representative" over and over again into the phone
automated system (pissed): fine, i will transfer you to the next available representative.
rep: hello, fed ex. this is someone speaking.
kaya: hi, i just got a package but i was supposed to get two, and i was hoping you could tell me what happened.
(some information is exchanged)
rep: oh ok. yeah, we never picked that up. i can't tell you what happened, but we don't have it. if you want to call and find out, you probably should.
kaya: great, what's the number?
rep: i don't know.
kaya: um...
rep: you could probably also just call linens 'n' things.
kaya: ok...thanks?
rep: hangs up.

kaya dials the number for linens and things, and struggles with a new automated woman, who is even more pissed about having to relenquish control of the conversation.
rep: hello linens 'n' things, i sound like i'm having a bad day and that is not a good sign for you.
kaya: hi, i ordered a comforter a few days ago, and i just talked to fed ex and they never got it.
rep: i'm going to pretend like i understand and talk to you for five minutes about some pillows. eventually i'll realize you want a comforter and we'll start this process over.
kaya: fine, i guess.
rep: oh ok, it shows that the package was entered into the fed ex system on the 4th.
kaya: yeah, i can see that online. you're just looking at the same-ass "track package" screen on the fed ex website that i clearly checked before calling you.
rep: right. well so it was shipped on the 4th then.
kaya: no that's the whole point. it wasn't.
rep: oh ok. well it'll take 5-6 business days, so it should come tomorrow or monday.
kaya: well no, because the other things that it was shipped with arrived today. also because i talked to fed ex and they are not planning on delivering it. in fact, they don't even have it.
rep: i see. well it should probably show up in a few days.
kaya: no no, i won't.
rep: i understand your frustration. why don't you call back on monday if you still haven't gotten it.
kaya: hangs up in fury, and then immediately regrets hanging up, as her problem is nowhere near solved.

...well, this was a long post. i guess i should get offline and go call linens 'n' things back.


Kriss said...

I hate waiting for my luggage at the airport. I haven't lost anything yet, but I know it's only a matter of time. My mom flew to India this summer, gets all the way to Philly without losing any luggage. The hour flight she took from Philly to Baltimore somehow managed to misplace her bag.

And your calls to FedEx and Linens 'n' Things could have been worse...You could have been calling Dell speaking to someone from India that doesn't know the difference between a laptop or a desktop.

Oh and thanks for the shoutout in your Movie Poster Review.

kidbonita said...

so, any comfort yet?

Laura said...

Extraordinary experience. You could go to and post this there as well - it's a new consumer website where customers can share their customer-service experiences (and frustrations).