It's #GrumpyMonday and today we join my dad @MattStevens as he deals with a vicious and irritating customer service phone loop. We've all had to call customer service, whether for assistance with a technological device, or to deal with a bill. It's always annoying.
As always dad's dialogue is in bold and any commentary I have is denoted by: "Tess' Note:"
Happy reading and remember a new Grumpy column comes out every Monday and if you've missed the past few, including a special Throwback edition: check out the official Grumpy Old Man Collection here, only on Vingle.
I have to call AT&T every month. I call the moment I receive my WI-FI bill, which is always supposed to be $37, but never is. It’s always more. (If it were less, I wouldn’t call. I’m old and grumpy, but not stupid.)
Last month, the bill was $55. I called the customer service number, outsmarted the automated system after a mere five minutes and reached a real live Filipino woman who spoke broken English and didn’t know a damn thing about how to fix the problem. She spent the first 10 minutes of our conversation trying to repeat everything I was telling her (which would have done nothing but prove she could audition for Sesame Street if it ever wanted a new character named Myna Bird), but she failed miserably.
“Every year, I have to call in April to get your latest promotion so I don’t wind up paying some outrageous price for Wi-Fi,” I began. “This year, I was given the $37 a month promotion. I’m supposed to pay $37, but you always bill me more than that. This month, you billed me $55.”
“Okay, Mr. Stevens, you say you called in April to say that you were charged $55, but were billed only $37?”
“What? No! That’s not even close to what I said.”
“Okay, Mr. Stevens. Give me just a moment and I will see what I can do to solve your problem. May I put you on hold?”
“You don’t even know what my problem is! Hello?”
She was gone. I sat on hold for 10 minutes, knowing that when she returned I’d be no closer to being satisfied.
“Okay, Mr. Stevens, you say your rate is $55, but you…”
I hung up. Thirty minutes later, I finally reached an English-speaking representative who assured me that if I paid $37, everything would be adjusted correctly on the next bill.
I thanked him and asked where I should send the bill for the last hour of my life. He laughed. I didn’t.
Three days ago, I received the next bill. The adjustments to last month’s bill had been made as promised. However, the “current charges” were $82.
“What? Eighty-two dollars!”
Tess' Note: This whole situation reminds me of a brilliant South Park episode called "Grounded Vindaloop" in which the boys get trapped in a customer service loop regarding a video game headset that traps them in a virtual reality. AKA, trying to get your WI-FI price corrected. (The video is 5 minutes long, but you can get the picture in 2)
I called AT&T customer service again and spent five minutes bypassing the automated system. Then, I swear to God, I reached the same damn Filipino woman. Only I could beat those odds. Like a fool, I tried to explain that I’d been overcharged again, this time by $45. After more than ten minutes with her, I demanded to speak with her supervisor. Five minutes later, I was explaining my problem to a man whose command of the English language made the Filipino woman seem like a dialect coach for an actor trying to learn a Midwestern accent.
“I get you to someone what can help your issue, Mr. Stevens,” said the supervisor, who must have become a supervisor by being less competent than his peers—which is how they’ve been doing it in the TV news business for decades.
“Thank you,” I said in a slightly impatient tone.
Five minutes later, another man came on the line. This guy sounded like he’d grown up in Chicago. What a relief!
“May I help you?”
“Yes,” I said. “Did the supervisor brief you?”
“Brief me? No.”
“So, no one told you why I called?”
“No. No one told me,” he said.
“Of course,” I said.
So, I spent the next couple of minutes explaining that I’m supposed to pay $37 dollars a month, but always get billed more. This time it’s $82. Blah, blah, blah.
“When did you get your bill?” he asked.
“It came in the mail today,” I said.
“Well, I don’t have it in my computer yet, so I won’t be able to deal with it.”
Tess' Note: Here's where dad really unleashes the Grumpy:
“What do you mean you don’t have it in your computer? I just received a paper bill in the snail mail! You have to have it in your computer. How could AT&T generate a bill and mail it to me if it’s not in the AT&T computer? That’s impossible!”
"I understand you frustration, sir,” he said. “All I can tell you is that I it hasn’t been posted in our system.”
“Again, I ask you: How is that possible? You sent me a bill. It took three days to get here. I’m looking at it! But you don’t have it in your system?”
“That’s correct, sir. All I can do is promise to make sure the necessary adjustments are made so your $37 payment will be sufficient.”
“Can you promise to make sure the necessary adjustments are made so I don’t have to call again next month?” I asked.
“I can try, sir, but I couldn’t promise,” he said sincerely.
“Can you see that I get reimbursed for the last 57 minutes of my life?” I asked just as sincerely.
“No, sir. I can’t.”