Rise of the Machines – The Call Center

Our world revolves around the customer. The customer is our greatest asset. The customer is always right. We go the extra mile for our customer. We provide legendary customer service. Seeing a theme here yet? Based on this week’s experience, these customer service promises were nothing but cave paintings scribbled on a rock wall by a cro-magnon with a graffiti fetish.


Technology, for the most part is a wonderful thing. It frees us up to do all the things we need to do–supposedly in a more efficient manner. This freedom comes with a price. There is no longer a face of the company. No customer service “person” exists to help you through the process. You, my dear tech dependent friend, are left in the pit of despair known as the Customer Call Center.

They don’t call these connections a Help Desk for a reason. They are not allowed to help. They exist to confound and confuse the customer and prevent them from changing, or cancelling service (monthly monetary homage) to their corporate overlords.

I use multiple e-mail services in my daily routine. Not only different addresses, but different services. If, Comcast goes down and I can’t access my primary work e-mail, at crimewriter. I use a couple of free public domain e-mail providers, one for recovery purposes, another for consulting work and so on. This week, I had a glitch in one of these e-mail services–it happens. Since this one is provided though a major international software and communications company, I figured, no problem.


I logged onto the e-mail web page and entered all the required user name, password and the name of the doctor who cut my cord when I was born. Nothing. No service. I tried to reset the password and I was greeted with a screen directing me to call a toll free number for assistance.

I loathe call centers. I would rather use a chat function with a nameless keyboard jockey. But this time the provider demanded I speak with a person. The dark clouds began to gather at this point. I follow directions and after a another cup of coffee, I called.

Then the fun begins. If I’m calling about billing, press 1. For wireless services press 2. Nothing matches my particular need. Around the press 18 to report a Bigfoot sighting mark, I pressed buttons to imitate a seizure. I thought that might raise someone from the electronic lair. Nope. My coffee is cold and I need a shave at this point.


To speak with a customer service rep, press 584…

I finally connected with a voice. I’m not jumping to the conclusion that this voice belongs to a human, yet. “Edward” asks for my account number. (I know this is is not his real name. He took it from a Twilight novel and his call center isn’t within a thousand miles. I’m guessing Kuala Lumpur based on the background noise.) I tell Edward that I don’t have an account number associated with this email account. Do I have a wireless account with them? Well I do, but that isn’t connected with this e-mail service. I need to give that information for him to proceed. Surly, doesn’t quite cover what I’m feeling during this portion of the call. I ask for a supervisor and Edward won’t budge and won’t connect me with his overlord.

Remembering that one of the things I heard on the automated portion of the call was that it would be recorded, I begin something that I call a stress transference exercise. I feel better, but Edward doesn’t. I said things. Suffice it to say that my passport will be flagged the next time I fly to Kuala Lumpur. Eddie-boy still won’t connect me to a supervisor. But, he finally asked what the e-mail address is of the account I’m calling about. Finally.

He tells me that I can go online and reset the password. THAT IS HOW I GOT HERE, EDDIE! If I want to upgrade my wireless plan to include TV and internet he can help me. WUT?


This e-mail account I’m been talking about with Cousin Eddie is no longer supported by the company. The service exists, but they don’t support it (they don’t make money from it). He gives me a phone number for a digital support group. And a support group is what I’m feeling about now.

Customer service seems to be a rare commodity these days. When you find it, appreciate the hell out of it. In my case, I’ll adjust my e-mails around but, “Edward” will meet a very painful, tragic undoing in my next novel. Bye bye Eddie!


from unofficial dragon at tumblr



  1. I once called Comcast to report that my land line service was out and the customer support person told me to call back on my land line in order to report my problem. (one of their regulations – you can’t report your land line service is out from a cell phone. It has to be from a phone associated with your account.) Duh, duh and duh…

    1. It’s like this sideshow mirror maze – there is no way out. Comcast is one, knock on wood, that I haven’t had a problem with on call center issues.

  2. “Based on this week’s experience, these customer service promises were nothing but cave paintings scribbled on a rock wall by a cro-magnon with a graffiti fetish.”

    GREAT comparison……had me laughing.

    1. Thanks Dee. It’s a frustrating experience, for sure!

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