Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I love cell phone companies (and other lies)

Yes, yet another massive screw up by a cell phone company. Surprised? You must be still in the cell phone honeymoon stage on your first phone. You'll see soon enough.

I've had horror stories with T-Mobile, with what used to be Bell South Mobility, and with Verizon. I'm working my way through AT&T currently and setting my sights on the next candidate for totally screwing up something for me.

The current situation: I ordered my new iPhone about a month ago. Good thing - recently my original iPhone has lost part of the touch screen. It's a band toward the top that prevents dialing, prevents selecting the first items in lists, and places off limits any icons in the 2nd row. A Google search finds that many have encountered this; not much to do.

Anyway, July 9th I ordered my new phone. I received an email confirming the purchase; this email indicated that I would receive another email when the phone shipped in an estimated couple of weeks. That was my last email. After unsuccessfully trying to contact the store by phone I decided to fight traffic and head back into the store today. "Sorry sir, your phone was in the store for 7 days and then shipped back."

What? Good grief! as Charlie Brown would declare. I got charged $322 anyway, thank you very much. I never received an email or call. I double checked. Nope.

Here's the great part. I'm at home on with customer service and they find no record of the purchase, the $322 charge, of a sent-back phone - nothing. Pleasant.

I am troubled by the trend I've seen in recent years. Businesses have gathered an ever greater density of customers; they've never found a way to support those customers in any way resembling the service that one would have received "in the old days" from your (say) local neighborhood proprietor. Businesses have all the earmarks of big Government. They draft a playbook for mass sales, yet have no pages for actually supporting those sales. They pump up the volume of new customers then struggle to supply the technological bandwidth to even sustain them; customer service is caught in the middle trying to answer questions, cool tempers, and find some way to achieve a positive outcome. I feel for them; I think they give up, are poorly trained, and too often just could care less.

When the guy who sold me a phone which they sent back can not give me a refund, but instead has to wait for the 30 day period to some computer can automatically issue me a credit - that's a breakdown of the system. It's a piss poor design of the business process. When I can't then call the national customer service and get any results - when they themselves can't even see the transaction since it was from a "core store", that's just crazy.

I can tell more stories about these big telecommunication companies; other people can relate more stories, and even worse ones. I can switch - it's jumping from one cauldron into another. It's switching from the terrible Republicans to the terrible Democrats. I may actually receive a call from a manager - hell, it might even be a VP like when Verizon couldn't figure out why my phone failed to receive phone calls without first dropping them for 3 months. Did the VP solve my problem? Naw. He just sounded "nicer" when he apologized for my pain and anguish, but offered no solution.

It's the big cell phone company today. Might be an insurance company tomorrow not wanting to pay for the stitches in my thumb. Satellite TV and cable companies. Internet providers. Power and gas companies. There are so many of these huge institutions that control many of the specifies of our lives; we don't live in America any more. We live in AT&T, DirecTV, Blue Cross, City Bank land now. I pity the control freaks out there; they're powerless to attain any level of true control beyond simply not using the many products and services from these companies. Hard to do in todays technological society.

...god how I miss my rotary phone and old TV. Not getting a good signal? Move the rabbit ears. Don't like the program? Twist the channel knob. Nothing good on? See that volume button? Push it.

...ah, that's better...hmm, do I really need a phone?

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