"I Miss My Picture"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, June 24, 2011

I’m not sure how to start this column — maybe “let’s talk about customer service again, or the lack of it.”

“ Customer service” is an ill used title. When you contact “Customer Service,” you don’t always get service. Some companies like to refer to “Customer Care,” but that rarely ever occurs because it is very unusual to find anyone in a customer service department that “cares” about your problem.

What you do find is a long wait on hold listening to a poor selection of music frequently broken up by ads for the company you are calling to register a complaint. You also get the customary one-liner joke, repeated over and over — “Your call is important to us.” If our calls were important to them, they would hire polite personnel and enough of them to handle the load of calls they must receive.

If a customer calls a company with a complaint, making them wait an extensive amount of time is only going to make them mull over how unhappy they are about the product. The wait time may allow a customer to build up enough anger that by the time one of the (often) fast-talking, “I can’t be bothered with you,” person answers, they will get a blast of it.

Recently, I called my cell phone company because my service has been, at best, sporadic since I returned a month ago. I waited on hold 20 minutes, then talked to a young woman who ran me through the usual inquisition. She had me dial a special number on the cell phone and tell her what I had already explained it had said on my screen: “Error in connection.”

I patiently told her that was why I was calling from my landline. She told me to remove the phone’s battery, wait a few minutes, then re-install it and call her special number from my cell phone. After I received the same “error in connection” message yet again, I told her that was why I was calling.

The young woman had me try a few other tricks, all of which failed. I told her I had heard there was a tower problem in my area but when she checked, she saw no notice of any such event. After all of this, I was asked to hold for a tech. While holding, I got to hear how important my call was, warned my conversation would be recorded and told all the techs were busy, but I would get the next one available.

After the usual 10 to 20 minute hold time, I got a tech named Michael, who instructed me to take my phone apart, including the SIM card, and switch batteries, then reassemble it. He also had me do changes to the phone’s settings, which I later learned was a “factory wipe-out” back to default settings. You may recall a photo that accompanied my column in April about visiting the Hoover Dam. It was a picture of the bridge over the dam I had waited four years to take. I had placed it on my phone so I could show it to everyone and forever be reminded of the moment I viewed it. You know the saying: “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” That’s how I felt about mine.

After doing all the maneuvers requested by Michael, my picture disappeared. When I asked him about it, he responded, “I’m sorry, it’s gone now.” That’s it — gone, and he followed up with, “It cannot be recovered.”

When I asked about the problems with the tower in my area he responded, “There were no problems listed.” Believe it or not, I continued working with Michael for another hour or so as he asked me to charge the battery in my old cell phone and switch out SIM cards with it, which seemed kind of risky after losing my picture.

Michael finally “gave up,” and said he would assign a case number and I should visit a location where a tech could examine my phone.

I had asked the young lady to report my concerns about the tower outage earlier and a supervisor called me — when he could finally get through on my landline that had been tied up for more than two hours. He said the local tower was indeed under repair and phones in the area were experiencing outages. He thought it should be up and running in about a week.

Don’t give up on this tale, it gets better. When I went to the area center to have a tech examine my phone — it was gone, replaced by a retail outlet. When I called in and gave a new person the case number I received, she said the tech who filed it reported, “the customer took his phone apart.”

When I asked about the tower problems she said, “That’s life, weather and other events affect your service and we don’t offer any guarantees.” I asked for her supervisor, who told me I had been offered compensation of half off my bill and refused to accept it. Why would I have refused? She then told me she could not help me.

My phone still is “sporadically” working when it feels like it, has weird things in the settings — which I am afraid to adjust — and I will be making the 180-mile round trip to visit a corporate store to try and salvage it.

AS I SEE IT, customer service is a thing of the past.



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