Sunday, August 21, 2005

Who Do You Think You're Fooling?

There is a special extra-toasty seat reserved in the innermost circle of Hell for the person who designed Verizon's customer service. I went from calm to screaming obcenities at the phone in less than 39 seconds. First, I HATE systems that force you to go through more than one layer of choices. In fact, I'm not a real fan of systems that make you listen to more than three choices on the first layer. I do recognize the potential usefulness to both consumer and provider that an automated system offers. However, in my ideal version, the first layer would be "If you would like to use our automated system for information like account balance and amount due, change of address, or payment address, press 1 now. If you would like to speak to a customer service representative, please press 2 now." If you choose to go to the automated system, you should have no more than four choices per level and each level should include the option to get a live representative on the line. If you have a request that can't be handled by the automated system, you should be able to bypass the annoying voice and get in the queue for a live agent. I especially hate it when the system refuses to transfer you to a live representative and just hangs up if you don't input information that it likes. I double especially hate it when the system requires you to input multiple pieces of personal information (account number, last four digits of your Social Security Number, etc), and then when you finally get through to a live representative, none of that information has been transmitted to him or her so that you have to give it all over again. I know full well that it's possible for this information to be transmitted to the agent's computer screen simultaneously with your call being transmitted to his telephone headset because I worked in a call center and saw that very system work for 45 or 50 hours a week for two years running.

Anyway, Verizon's system is particularly odious. First of all, it's got very loud music and very soft voices. This means that you either go deaf or miss instructions. Second, each time you pass into a new layer of automated choices, it starts with the same announcement about using for your customer services needs. Ummmm, yeah... my problem is that I can't get a dial tone, so that means I can't use Hence, I am calling you. Believe me, if there was any way that I could resolve this without calling you, I would have availed myself of it-- anything to avoid this automated system of the devil! Point #2.5, which my more astute readers will already have deduced, is that the Verizon customer service system has multiple layers of choices. Third of all, it's one of those dual voice/ touch tone systems. I don't know how to explain how much these things annoy me, mostly because they seem to still have major problems with actually recognizing responses.

However, the thing that really put me over the edge was the Voice. It's so irritating! It sounds like a woman who thinks she's Carrie Bradshaw and if it were a real person, she would probably have a maxed out credit card full of charges for hideous designer clothes and botox. As it "guides" you through the multiple layers of choices, it continually tells you that it's "sorry" but it "couldn't understand what you were trying to tell" it. Eventually, it promised to transfer me to a live agent, but then it added (in the prissiest little voice) "You should know that we are having a very heavy call volume, so you'll probably have to wait a while." Hey, great. Thanks for sharing. Of course, if your stupid system would have just let me choose "Speak to a live agent" right off the bat, I would already have five or ten minutes of waiting behind me, so I can't say that I'm really feeling like your concern for me and my valuable time is sincere. Then, while I was on hold, it would interrupt me every 30 seconds or so. "I've been looking for someone to take your call, but everyone is busy. Oh, and by the way, you can also get information by going to". By the way? As if the Voice suddenly remembered to tell you something? Puh-leeze.


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