Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Fight with the Phone Company

This past Monday morning I tried to dial a toll call from my office. I heard a recording I’d never heard before:

“We’re sorry, the number you are calling from has been disconnected.”


I dialed again just to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood. I hadn’t.

“No it hasn’t,” I said back to the recording. The recording didn’t seem to care.

Others at work began complaining that their phones weren’t working. It turned out that all were getting the same recording.

I called the cell phone number of our local phone repairman. (This is a small town, after all; Bill and I are on a first name basis.) He told me it wasn’t a local problem that he could fix, but I should put in a trouble call to the 800 number. Big mistake.

By 11:00 a.m. I had spoken with at least 6 different “customer service” reps, each of whom started out with empathy and questions, but ended up pointing fingers at other companies or other departments within their company.

I had one big advantage: ALL my local phone services (local, long distance and wireless) are handled by one company. I won’t tell you its name but it starts with a “V” and rhymes with “horizon.”

Despite that “advantage” I was passed from one person to another, and none of them had much empathy for me, the customer. One, named Travis, seemed to take ownership of the problem. He called me back two or three time with progress reports and initially gave me an 8 hour target for resolution of this emergency problem. Later he asked that I revise his target to 24 hours, as this was looking like a difficult issue.

Tuesday came and went with a couple progress reports and an indication from a technician that he had figured out the problem (Duh! The problem is, my long distance service has been turned off!) but to get the service turned back on Travis would have to submit an order to the long distance department. Travis assured me he would do so right away.

Wednesday (yesterday) came and went with no communication at all. My two emails to Travis pleading for an update and a solution were read (auto read receipt – a wonderful tool) but not replied to.

This morning (Thursday), 72 hours after my first trouble call, I again called my local repair technician in desperation. To his credit, he has since called me back 4 times with “updates.” He tells me he has several other technicians on another line who THINK they’ve solved my problem. “Can you call out now?” (“Can you hear me now? Good!”) I dutifully put him on hold, try to call out, get the same strange recording, and tell him, “Not yet.” The afternoon drags on.

Now Thursday has come and gone, and we’re over 80 hours into this service outage. I’ve written a hateful letter to “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN” at Veriz... oops, I wasn’t going to name the company.

My letter informs them that a change is needed to either their organization or their culture. I have no idea who will read the letter, or if anyone will care. My next step will be a complaint to the F.C.C., the agency that regulates long distance service. Maybe a call from the federal regulators will get someone’s attention. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

ARRGGHHH!!! What happened to the customer always being right? You did a great job of capturing a range of emotions going from annoyed to really irate. BTW the other major phone company soon to be part of SBC is not immune from customer service issues. I signed up for internet service, dialed the number the provider gave me without a one and when the call went thru I figured I had a local call. WRONG! I didn't find out til I received a bill for $187 in long distance charges. When I called mega-phone Inc. the customer service representative (where they got that title is beyond me since I got no service) informed me that it was my fault. I needed to dial the phone company to ask if a call was local or not. Of course you could die of old age waiting to talk to a real person at the phone company so that is not a particularly helpful suggestion. Good Luck with the V company.

James said...

Ah, silly Anonymous.

There is no explicit inference of time it takes for the company to realize the customer is "always right", just that in the end, he/she (the customer that is), will, in the end be right. Hope it works out for you Ramblings, they'll realize your right in the end!