Monday, February 4, 2008

“Please Choose From the Following Menu” or “Press One to Die Holding”

I am a patient person. If you don’t believe me, just ask my lovely wife (*instant blog plug!*). I have, however, of late met my ultimate match. Just when I thought surviving some of the big, blockbuster patience tests of life assured me a place in the “Can’t Rattle Me Hall of Fame,” I met:

Duh duh duh!!!!!!

I have endured many patience tests in my forty years, including, but not limited to:

1. The United States Military Service – well known for making us stand in line for two-hundred hours in order to obtain anything lasting last than 13 seconds, including complete meals. Also known as the “hurry-up-and-wait” system.
2. My three-year-old daughter – yes, believe it or not, hearing “no!” six-hundred times per hour does try the staying power eventually.
3. The Neighbor War of 2006 – another blog in itself, but suffice it to say that the neighbors army of dogs are still camped out in my front yard and my wife’s criminal record remained clean, though it was a close call!
4. Flat tires – multiple
5. Bad drivers – daily
6. Life in general

However: I may have met my match! I have discovered the one thing that can, and will, cause me to actually yell at someone through the phone. I have found that one particular call where you are relieved that you cannot actually physically reach the person on the other end of the line because murder is illegal in most states and India where they actually are. DIRECTV HAS ASSAULTED ME WITH:

THE $4.00 OVERDUE BALANCE, PHONE MARATHON, EXTRAVEGANZA! (movie rights are available for a fee)

To make this easy to understand, I have setup the following short list of events leading up to this overdue balance so that we can concentrate on the actual effort taken to remove it:

1. Ordered expensive paper view MONTHS AGO
2. Didn’t come on television despite phone call actually lasting longer than the event itself with “tech support” person who kept saying “are you sure you can’t see it?” over and over.
3. Promised credit to account for amount.
4. After not receiving credit two months in a row and being told it was “pending” by operators’ number 1034, 4458, and 8288 respectively, was charged late fee for not paying the “overdue” amount relating to said “unapplied” credit.
5. Whopping overdue fee? $2.00 per month

I have spent approximately one day of my life, if you count all of the calls, hold-times, and tech support from the actual first night, trying to basically avoid this $4.00 fee. Why not just give in you ask? Why not just pay the stinking $4.00 you might wonder? I have an easy answer: I don’t know.

Anyway, I digress. The menu system when you call DIRECTV is a typical one where you can choose “one of the following options” at any time. However, it is worthy to note that:

1. You cannot, at any time, actually choose good ‘ole zero for an operator, and
2. You cannot, at any time, breath or otherwise make a sound because the system is also a “speak to me” system.

What this means, for those of you who are not mute, don’t have zero children, no animals, or never breath out of your face, is that some noise, cough, or scream from any neighboring house causes the voice activated system to take over. The following is what occurs when this happens:

System: “Hello, and welcome to…”
Me: Small cough
System: “OK. You said you want to order Girls Gone Wild? Is this correct?”
Me: What? Hello?
System: “OK. Can I help you with anything else?”
Me: No! I mean Yes! I don’t want that!
System: “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that?”
Me: Operator!
System: “OK. But before I connect you with an operator who can assist you, please provide the phone number of the billing account”
Me: 540 872-4596
System: “You said 334 892-0099, is that correct?”
Me: Huh? (Three-year-old screams something about chocolate milk in the background)
System: “OK. That’s Hot Chocolate Babes on channel 150 for $69.95. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

After saying “Operator” four hundred twenty two times in sixteen different call attempts during which everyone in my home is playing “freeze and shut up,” I finally got Otto on the phone. Good ‘ole Otto! My buddy from, as he said it, “cruchtomer serbice”:

Otto: “Tank you for calling DirecTV, how may a chelp ju?”
Me: You guys keep charging me an overdue fee even though I have a credit pending.
Otto: “Ok. Let me look at your achount Mr. Trimey, sir. Can I am pleasing to place you on hold pleasing?”
Otto: “Ok Mr. Trimey, it appears dis credit has been akplyed to chor achounting. Is there anything elsing I can service to you this day?”
Me: Huh?
Otto: “The credit has been akplyed to chor achounting. OK?”
Me: Are you sure, because the last seventeen people have told me the same thing.
Otto: “What?”
Me: Huh?!
Otto: Click

Otto did not get the credit applied. Neither did “Robert”, who’s accent was so severe he confused himself, “Susie” who’s English resembled someone running on a treadmill set on nine while talking, or “Bill” who understood only the word “credit” and hung up on me in frustration. Sorry about that Bill.

I ultimately, just today, got Oliver. Oliver spoke clearly. Oliver did not put me on hold. Oliver credited my account within one minute, and in a language I could understand, apologized on behalf of DirecTV, and presumably, Otto, Robert, Susie, and Bill as well. I’m not sure how I got Oliver. I fumbled through the “speak” system to get him by continually chanting “Billing Department” for several minutes and hiding in my office. I found if you yell “Billing Department” intermittently while placing your hand on and off the receiver speaker you will:

1. Get through eventually and get an “Oliver” vice a “Susie”
2. Get a hand cramp
3. Get interesting looks from your co-workers

If I have learned anything from this experience, it’s these three things in particular:

1. I hate DirecTV’s automated system and the person who created it
2. Their stance on outsourcing U. S. Jobs overseas is now one of my major gauges for picking candidates in any political race
3. I have a headache

So.. the next time you call one of these automated systems and hear the “speak” system take over, remember this important fact…

… you are screwed.


vontinney said...

ROFLMAO! (to quote your son..hehe!)

rebecca said...

OMGosh you kill me!!!!!! The next time I talk to them on the phone I don't know if I'll be able to not laugh my butt off!!!!!!!