Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LOFT LIFE: Missing the bus

Let’s start right out saying I realize my frustrations are not life threatening, not terminal in any sense, and, in the light of truly tragic situations, rather minor. Still, frustration is frustration.
I remember my friend Sister Rosalia telling me that even when you miss a bus, in some sense, you do go through the stages of loss and grieving. That stopped me short. Really! She said every loss does take its toll on us.
Thus, in my ever positive imaginations, I assumed that when AT&T told me my problem was solved, I believed them. When they told me I would no longer have to make the half hour phone call, which always begins somewhere in Southeast Asia, and, miraculously ends up in good old Connecticut, I have such a good feeling--until I receive the following month’s bill for our DSL wireless service.
We contracted at a promo rate, and my first month’s call cleared up part of the problem, that the company still bills me the full rate, and then it should get adjusted--without me calling. After she explained to me that they “made up” an account number that “looks like” a CT phone number, so that they could sell me wireless DSL service with no home phone, I better understood which of the several number series to give them on my monthly complaint-problem-solving calls. 
This nice woman, let’s call her Betsy, assured me all was corrected, and it would not happen again, and on the following month, I would see the discount prominently displayed on my bill. (Are they kidding? Does AT&T really not know how to sell a product like DSL wireless without connecting it to another product?) But it was now solved.
Right? Of course not. The next month it was still the full amount--no discount. there. So I called again. This half hour tete-e-tete resolved another problem, which was that my Southeast Asia call was totally unnecessary, being the general customer service number, not the DSL-only service. Whew. That should save at least 15 minutes a month, I thought, trying to stay positive. But, this very nice woman, let’s call her Mary, assured me it was really fixed now, and I would never have to call again.
UH-HUH. Right. Wrong. My third call, which unfortunately still began in Southeast Asia, because I forgot which of the several customer service numbers on my bill was the DSL number (far be it from me to ask for labels on something so trivial as a half hour--per month--of MY time).
So 16 minutes later, I was happily connected with Leslie, another lovely CT customer service rep, who gave me more nuggets of wisdom on the venerable AT&T system: My CT phone-account number is not visible to our friends in Southeast Asia, nor are the account notes being made monthly after my calls. But she could see them. So not only did she easily follow and understand my dilemma, she “fixed” the billing code to reflect the promo code, rather than the regular billing amount. Amazing. Was this not obvious to the first two people? Anyway, my SKYPE disconnected me from Leslie, right as she informed me that all was well. So even though I didn’t actually get to the part where she would assure me that I would never have to make this call again, I imagine all is still well. She said it was fixed. And, we all know, it is. I have confidence in Leslie. She is smart, has a sense of humor, and assured me she really didn’t understand why it wasn’t corrected from the beginning, but was now. It’s OK--at least until February. 
My frustration and loss is once again comforted. No, I didn’t miss a bus. And, truthfully, I have wasted more than an hour and a half playing Bejeweled, and such. I guess speaking with AT&T personnel isn’t any worse way to spend my time than video games. 
But, this loss is about losing confidence in the system, yearning for the days when customer service actually meant something. 
It's a loss to feel we are becoming just a number. It's a loss to realize we will never return to that feeling that we matter to these huge corporations. It really is loss, even if no one has died.