Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We Appreciate Your Call......

I suspect that the customer service "call center" person that currently has me on hold really doesn't appreciate me.  I am not feeling the love at all, actually.  In the recesses of my multi-compartmented brain there are visions the the CSR is playing Angry Birds on his/her Iphone and munching on Doritos. I am a the equivalent of a pesky gnat that he/she wishes would go away.

I have been on hold for about 22 minutes up to this point and thought I would take this opportunity to blog (rant) about what I will be ranting about on the phone if and when the CSR finally gets around to picking up his/her headset and talking to me. 

First...before I get going with what prompted me to make this call, let's discuss what the  CSR acronym stands for.  You know I do love my ACRONYMS.  In the case of CRS, I suppose you think it stands for Customer Service Representative.   You have been sorely misled.  It really stands for Crappy Service Responder.  I know this for a fact as I used to own a training company that did customer service training for call centers.  Ahhh...the stories I could tell you about what happens in a call center.  There is nothing more upbeat  than 300 or so people crammed into a large room divided into small cubicles with hundreds of phones all ringing at the same time.  Everyone of those three hundred or so employees have at least two things in common.

1.  They were hired to save their employer money.
2.  They all hate their job.

My latest interaction with a call center is today though.  Let me tell you how I came to be on hold.....

I got a bill yesterday from a major department store for one cent.  That's right one penny.

It really is all my fault.  Last month, I went shopping for a "end of the season" coat.  Typically I love this time a year from a shopping perspective.  There are racks that are chocked full of stuff no one else would be caught dead in but yet there will be something that will appeal to me.  It is, after all, 75 per cent off.  I can really lower my clothing standards for a good bargain. 

So at the MDS (major dept. store for future reference) I find a nice little wool coat with no tag on  it, hung up on a  75 percent off rack.  It is my size and it is Ann Klein.  I usually have tags in my clothes that say Jacqueline Smith (Kmart), Old Glory (Walmart), or Massimo (Target). I  am thinking that hanging out with Anne Klein might be a step up for me.  So I take the cute little coat up to the desk and ask the girl to make a guess at what it might cost.  She, of course, had no clue so she went on a search to track down that coat in any other size. No dice.  She did find a similar coat that had a price that was "good enough".

Now this is where I made my big MISTAKE. The price of the coat was already a bargain but the girl checking me out says " You can save an additional 20 per cent by opening a  MDS charge card.  This is where I should of said "No Way In Hell Do I Need Another Card" but of course what I actually said is "Sure because 20 percent is 20 percent."

I proceeded to open a card, then immediately after it is open I tell her I want to pay it off.  This way I will get my 20 percent but  I am not in debt to anyone including the MDS.    Still  debt free. This is how I roll.

So a couple of weeks went by and a get a bill from MDS.  I owe then ONE PENNY.  That's right.  Somewhere in the process of all of this, we are off a penny.

Let's do the math here.  Postage 44 cents, cost of envelope and paper bill ???not sure but lets call it 80 cents.  The cost of their time and equipment to generate a bill ??? again not sure but lets call it $2.00.
The aggravation it caused me to open a bill for ONE PENNY ????? priceless.

I am thinking at this point of the story that there is no way I am going to write a check for a penny and mail it to MDS nor am I going to put a penny in an envelope and mail it because there is the issue about the cost of the stamp and envelope.  OK, you say, I am being cheap.  Yes, that is true but it is the principle of the thing.  I own them a freakin' PENNY.  Let it ride and accrue some interest and penalties for me not paying my bill.
What would 23 percent interest accruing daily on a charge card if your balance is a penny????

No, I live debt free so that means I can't have a penny out there haunting me so I decide to call MDS customer service

 Just to give you an idea how phone interaction has gone so far.  My part of the conversation is in blue, MDS's conversation is in red.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRING....   electronic CRS says..... Hello, welcome to MDS Customer Service.  We see you are a new customer.  Are you aware that your MDS card is an American Express card?  Are you inquiring about charges you made with this card at our MDS store or a store other than MDS.  Please say now.

I say "at MDS"

 again electronic CRS....I am sorry but I could not hear your answer. Are you inquiring about charges at MDS or at a store other than MDS.  Please say your answer

I say "AT MDS"

 I am still trying to talk to a machine ......Please hold while we check your account   ........   BEEEEP  BEEEEP  BEEEEP BBBEEEEEPPPP.

(5 minutes pass)
 I am really annoyed with electronic CSR....Sorry to keep you waiting.....A customer service person will be with you shortly.

(5 minutes)

(music playing...catchy tune...hhhhhuuuummmm  Somewhere between the lines of fear and blame You'll begin to wonder why you came....where did I go wrong? hhhhuuuummmmm )

Your call is important to us, please continue to hold..... again call me skeptical

(5 minutes)

Call volume is especially high today, perhaps you would like to call back Wednesday through Friday when call volumes are typically lighter.   I am not a quitter

(more music another 5 minutes)

Your call is important to us, please continue to hold....x 2 

(10 minutes later)

Your call is important to us, please continue to hold.... (At this point we both know that is a freakin' lie)

(5 minutes later)

Hello, this is Edward.  How may I assist you today?

Hi, Edward, this is Cheryl.  I owe you a penny and want to know if you would be so kind to just adjust my bill so that you don't have to have more bills coming to me or that I don't have to waste my time and effort for a penny.

Let's look at your bill Cheryl.  Well, Cheryl as I look at your bill that penny is a credit to your account not a debit. We owe you a penny. The next time you buy something you will save a penny.

Well Edward.  I don't use charge cards so rather than have that penny hanging around waiting, why don't you just write it off.

Well, we can't do that but after six months those low balances just adjust so it will go away on it's own.

Let me get this straight, Edward.  You are going to generate bills to me for the next six months because I have a penny credit. Even though the cost of that is prohibitive of you making any profit.

Yes, maam, that is correct. (OK Edward, the whole maam thing is just cruel. Let's pretend you think I am a Miss)

See this is the kind of stuff that has forced me to create new rooms in my brain.  Today, I am building a spa in my mind.  I am going to lie on a massage table and get a massage with soft zen like music playing in the background.   If not that, I am going to visualize everybody that works for MDS getting on my imaginary "bus heading for the cliff".

I am conflicted which way to go.

The Good......I don't owe anyone a penny.

The Bad.....I now have the Fray song stuck in my head.

The Weird...This isn't the weird part but did you know.....  The Fray's song, How to Save a Life,  that has now taken up residence in my head thanks to the 35  minutes of hold time with MDS, was filmed in Bloomington, Indiana at Echo Park Studios.  It's a cool town if you haven't had the pleasure of visiting.

The weird part is that the call center that brought me to Bloomington,  over the course of two years, was RARE in the sense they all seemed to love their job, care about their customers and they all got along.  REALLY NICE PEOPLE. They lost their jobs to contract workers elsewhere.


Wolfbernz said...

Oh how I feel your pain!
I can't stand being on hold but I am not a quitter either.
I got a check from the US Treasury for One penny, I couldn't cash it I had to keep it to show every one...LOL

Have a great day


Leah Griffith said...

I loved your post, and feel your pain. I was just on hold for 20 minutes... until I hung up. I'm of the quitter species.

Cperz said...

Leah, I think some days it just isn't worth it.

Leah Griffith said...

I loved your post, and feel your pain. I was just on hold for 20 minutes... until I hung up. I'm of the quitter species.

meleahrebeccah said...

Ah yes, Crappy Service Responder = just one of the MANY reasons you and I BOTH hate shopping!

Aleta said...

One penny and it's a credit.. and they sent it in a bill notice with postage. How stupid can a company get? Seriously?

Debt free- it's a beautiful thing :) My husband has no credit cards. Never has. I have only one that gets paid off monthly. We're working on paying the house note out. I would love to be a home OWNER one day. Only to have utilities to pay - that's a dream!

Cheryl P. said...

yes, this has been going on for around 5 months now. I called them and told them to write off the penny but they said they can't. I just don't use charge cards so I guess they will still be putting postage stamps on an envelope and bill so they can show me that they owe me a penny. I know that it would be nice if I would just go buy something but I don't feel the need to buy something just to fix their stupid system.

We have been without a mortgage for about 15 years or so and it is nice. I think it can be a good thing for younger families to carry a bit of a mortgage for the tax deduction and it creates a credit history. I admire that you are planning ahead and at some point will be free and clear.