Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Customer No-Service

I have never in my life encountered so much resistance from a company i was TRYING to give money to.

Let me preface this entry by saying that I’ve by and large been very happy with Sprint PCS as a cell phone provider. They give me a metric ton of minutes for a very reasonable price, including long-distance. (The cellphone was an absolute sanity-saver when kitanzi and I were still dating long-distance.) I’ve had very few service issues in the time I’ve had the phone, almost a year now.

So today I went to pay my bill. Shouldn’t be a big deal, there’s a store not far from my office, on the way to lots of good stuff to eat, so I decided I’d swing by there on the way to having lunch with my co-worker, Aileen. Stopped by the store and they said “Sorry, we can’t take any payments now, the computers are down.”

Well, that happens. No big deal, I figured I’d just drop by when we got done with lunch. So we proceeded down to Schlotzsky’s Deli for lunch and conversation, then dropped back by to see if the computers were back up. “Yes they are, but you need to make the payment in the self-service kiosk.”

This rather annoys me, since if I’d wanted to do it all myself, I could have done it on the web and saved a trip. But I dutifully go over to the kiosk, wait in line for five minutes while watching the two “customer service” reps sit doing nothing. I finally get to the screen, enter the appropriate data, and it says “Enter your password”. Um, I don’t have a password, and without one, it only wants to accept cash, not a check. So I go over to the CSR, who tells me the password and sends me back to the computer. It still doesn’t offer to let me pay by check. I inform the CSR of this, and she looks me in the eye and with a straight face, utters the most absurd thing I’ve heard today:

“Well, i can process your payment, but there will be a five dollar charge.”

So, in order to hand my check to a human being, I have to pay an extra five bucks? This is customer service?

I shouldn’t be surprised. They also charge you three dollars to speak to a human being on their customer service line. I think my exact response was “You’ve got to be kidding me?” After being informed that no, this was not her idea of a droll prank, I muttered, “I *don’t* have time for this” and stalked out.

Aileen did her best to remind me that it was a beautiful sunny day and that it wasn’t worth being too upset about, so by the time I got back to the office, I was mostly calm. I went to the Sprint webpage, logged in, and submitted my payment in short order. Next time I’ll just do that the first time.

But am I the only person who finds it morbidly amusing that a communications company is going through so much trouble to prevent you from ever actually talking to them?

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6 Comments

  1. Our cell phone company is similarly weird when we try to pay our bill via phone -- as if we might be trying to maliciously pay someone else’s bill or something. Heavens forfend!

  2. Well, see, if you pay a human being, that means the human being did something, and they might have to. . . you know. . . eventually hire another one. Or something. If you pay a computer, on the other hand, the only human being that they have to pay is the one maintaining the computer. When budget time comes around, they can slice out the budget for customer service representatives and pat themselves on the back,but they can’t get rid of the IT person. The $5 is to simultaneously pay the representative’s wages and to make up for the problem they represent in this year’s budget, as well as discourage you from doing anything counter to their fabulous money-saving plan for next year.

    Sorry. I think it’s stupid too.

  3. Don’t most banks do that too?

    • Anonymous

      Financial Disservices Companies

      Autographed Cat’s problem isn’t (directly) in my experience. I don’t own a cell phone,
      as a matter of principle -- if you want to bug me, try me at my home phone (with its
      answering [screening] machine). But, in general, camwyn’s right on target. Machines
      and their service contracts are a LOT less expensive (and, theoretically, more reliable)
      than us carbon based units and our medical / dental / etc. benefits. Hey, this is the
      American way -- bottom line Capitalism!

      As to lothie’s “Don’t most banks do that too?” -- most BIG banks do that -- maedbh7’s
      comment is a typical example of what They do. But I bank at a local S & L association
      with 2 or 3 branches. They have the electronic and phone accesses, and ATMs (free),
      and they have the branches decently staffed with tellers and their equivalent of CSRs
      (I forget what they’re called in banks). They offer what I need (though not all the fancy
      linked accounts that the big banks have), but they don’t blow me away with fees, nor do
      they charge to deal with a fellow human.

      At least up here in Messacheapskates, you don’t have to bank at a bank. There are also
      Credit Unions, and many are open to the public, not just to a company’s employees. My
      “better half” uses one and is happy with it.

      maedbh7’s story puts me in mind of one of the BIG guys up here. Let’s call it Flout
      Financial Disservices (not it’s real name -- to protect the, ahem, innocent). I see the
      looong lines at the local office, queued up to the door and curling back around, to see
      one or two tellers. Not my idea of fleet service. They’re no better at sending out quarterly statements, either. But they are BIG.

      Autographed Cat -- sorry if I’ve not sounded very consoling or sympathetic. I really do
      understand. But your friend Aileen had the right idea. And better that you be morbidly
      amused than pissed off and stewing over it, right? My suggestion -- give Kitanzi a nice
      loooong kiss. A?

      Ann Onynous (incorrigible curmudgeon and dedicated dinosaur)

      • Re: Financial Disservices Companies

        <G> By the time I wrote this, I actually wasn’t upset much anymore. But it was I figured if nothing else, I could get a useful LJ entry out of it. 🙂

        Good advice, though. I think I’ll put your excellent idea into action immediately.

        -R

  4. I can relate. I just opened a new bank account. They have 3 kinds: the one you keep millions in and they charge you nothing; the one you keep thousands in, and they charge you nothing for most anything, and the one I have. They charge you $3 everytime you talk with a human being. They call it an automated account or some such nonsense. So, of course they didn’t send me my card/password/pin until almost a month and 3 visits later. Jerks.

    Could be worse, I guess. Could be using drums and the barter system. -H.

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