Gut Rumbles

February 22, 2005

yeah, yeah... I know

Having actual human beings handle your customer service function at your business is expensive. Cost-efficiency is achieved by eliminating as many people as possible and installing a menu-based phone service.

I hate those fuckers.

"If you have a billing question, press "one." If you have a question about service, press "two." If you wish to upgrade or change your acount, press "three." If you just like talking to a mechanical voice that doesn't give a shit about you, press "four." If you wish to speak to a real, live customer service representative, forgetabout it, because we don't operate that way.

Press any number you wish. All you get is another menu with the same stupid questions being asked. Eventually, some mechanical voice will ask you to enter your name, address and password using the letters on your touch-tone phone. I can't SEE those fucking letters. My eyes are bad and the letters are small. I punch in the wrong information and get another mechanical voice explaining that they were unable to understand the information I entered.

If I really gird my loins and hang in there long enough, I eventually end up speaking to a real, live person who doesn't have a clue about how to help me. I must hold while I am transferred to a "supervisor," who is only slightly less clueless than the goddam machine I've been dealing with.

I went through 30 minutes of that crap with Earthlink today. I cancelled my account with them three months ago, but they keep billing me. The nimrod on the phone said, "Mr. Smith, our records show that you cancelled that acount in December."

"Yes," I agreed. "But MY records show that you never stopped billing my credit card for the cancelled service. You did it again this month, too."

I received some typical hemming and hawing from the nimrod. I finally broke into his monologue. "Listen, my friend. I no longer have an account with you. The way I see it, you owe ME three months worth of refunds. I calculate that to be $67.50 and I want my money back. Now what menu button do I have to push to get my refund, which you OWE me?"

He promised to make it right, and I told him that a credit on my credit card would be fine with me. I just want what's rightfully MINE and I'm not asking them to cut me a special check or anything so exotic that it throws the entire company into a spinning crash-dive from which they can never recover. The whole thing sounds pretty simple to me, but I may as well have complained about an anthrax attack. I sent that poor bastard into a tizzy.

I am a betting man. What do you want to wager that they charge me again next month, too?


Been there and done that a few times. The worst one I ever dealt with was a major credit card company who cashed my check and didn't credit my bill. I had the returned check in my hand when I called them. After numerous hand-offs to different people, they told me that they had to have proof from me they had cashed it. I politely told them I had the proof with my returned check and they didn't, ergo-- it was their problem not mine. I ended up with a supervisor who finally admitted that and fixed the problem--after about an hour of my time.

Posted by: Deliverance on February 22, 2005 10:20 AM

Damn them to hell.

Posted by: Gil-galad on February 22, 2005 11:08 AM

Brother I feel for you. There seems to be a simple solution to the unemployment problem in America..........Simply fire some of the machines and hire some real live people...........Damn soundin like I Robot chills of future terror going up and down my spine

Posted by: arathorn on February 22, 2005 12:50 PM


Some of the automated systems in use today have the capacity to measure stress or pick up on profanity. So what you do while on hold is scream "Shitmotherfuckergoddamitcocksuckingwhore" into the phone as loud as possible. Sometimes this will register in the system and make your call suddenly much more important.

It doesn't always work, but is worth a try, especially with larger companies.

Posted by: Jordan on February 22, 2005 01:32 PM

What really bugs me is when they have you key in your 16 digit account number, but then when you finally talk to someone, they ask for your account number AGAIN! Why do they have you key it in in the first placed. Argh.

Posted by: DogsDon'tPurr on February 22, 2005 02:43 PM

whenever you get that FIRST message prompting you to push a touch-tone button ---don't do it. Wait a long minute or two while the recording asks you over and over, but usually it will go straight to a live operator. REALLY THIS IS DUE TO : ADA , the disablility regulations have made sure there is another easier path to service. But they (and you know who they are) don't ever tell you that.

Posted by: adele on February 22, 2005 02:54 PM

Dispute the charges with your credit card company and they will make Earthlink refund your money and make sure they quit charging you.

Posted by: Kim on February 22, 2005 05:23 PM

What Kim says is correct. Call the credit card company pronto. Dispute all of the bogus charges. The credit card company will then address the issue with Earthlink. and you will get your credit refunded.
Also, while you're at it, make sure the credit card folks disallow ANY further charges to your credit card from Earthlink. If the goofs at Earthlink try to bill you again, the process that controls their billing will fail and they will then have to either fix the problem or contact you about it. Either way, you are now in control.

As to menu based phone services... Try touching zero as soon as the first option menu comes up. In about half the cases, this will connect you to the "live human" thread.


Posted by: Roy Greenwell on February 22, 2005 06:22 PM

Yup, you'll get billed again. You talked to a "Service Rep". That amount to using their service. And THAT's bill-able.

At least that is the way THEY'LL see it.

Give 'em hell. And what Kim and Roy says sounds right.

Posted by: Wichi Dude on February 22, 2005 10:37 PM

Same crap happened with Alltel (cell phone).

I paid over the phone, wrote down the confirmation number. Next month, my phone gets shut off. I go down to a store and they tell me that the payment was "lost" after seeing my bank statement showing the money being taken out with the confirmation #, and that it would be fixed. Next month, phone got shut off. Repeat previous scene. I check my balance before my bill is due; again, they didn't find it.

I too navigated the cesspool morass that was that phone system, and they too demonstrated incompetence.

Finally had to get ahold of the district manager, and by then I cancelled my contract, got out of the 200 dollar bs fee.

Sometimes climbing their bs corporate ladder is worth something....

Posted by: Cythen on February 24, 2005 10:18 PM
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