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Nightmare on customer service street

The 10 most irritating calls you can make

“Life is too short to battle customer service droids,” Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist Joanna Stern wrote recently. She then goes on to encourage readers to try the GetHuman app where after entering a company of your choice, the page suggests a series of numbers on a hotline that will connect you directly to a human customer service representative. For a fee, the company even promises to wait for your call to get through and argue on your behalf. Sounds exciting for any homeowner, right? Imagine not wasting energy pleading someone to fix a service you regularly pay for.

(Manila Bulletin)

(Manila Bulletin)

Sadly, a quick search does not show any GetHuman-like service in the Philippines as of press time. While you read this, many customers are on hold – patiently waiting for representatives to handle their requests as they endlessly listen to jingles or pitches from a recording. Some are logging a new issue, some are following up, and some are following up on, well, their follow-up.

The main goal of customer service is to provide assistance to people who purchased a product or are paying for a service. But many have found that customer satisfaction is not always the result of reaching out to a company of your choice. Have you been turned into a monster by any of these customer (non) service blunders?

Cue the long queue. How many decades does it take for your call to get through? When you dialed the hotline, you were full of hope. By the time you speak to someone, you are close to transforming into The Hulk.

Cue the additional queue. After explaining your concern, you are told you need to be put on hold so a consult can be done with a supervisor. After a few minutes, you are not surprised to be told the supervisor is not available. On a personal note, I was promised a supervisor would call me back in a few minutes. When my phone did not ring, I called them back and was told the person had already gone home.

They give you choices they cannot give. Companies now allow their clients to choose a plan and add-ons to go with it. You listen carefully, tick your preferences, and send it to them pronto so they can prepare a contract. That was three months ago. There is no contract in sight – or the drafts that you have do not reflect what you want to pay for.

Robotic lines. Scripts are for actors, not customer service representatives. This drives me nuts: Customer Rep: “What is your name, Ma’am?” Me: “Joyce Aguila.” Customer Rep: “To confirm, you are Ms. Joyce Aguila.” Every. Single. Time.

You still get billed despite not having service. You have invested time calling them or going to their office, gas money, mobile-phone minutes, and even your sanity but still, they ask for more. After weeks or months deprived of service, you still have to pay before your due date. The last thing you need is a liability on your end that will give them another excuse not to fix your problem. Some clients, out of frustration, just refuse to pay until their service is eventually disconnected.

They offer to refund you – with conditions. To make you feel better, some companies offer to pay you back – a quarter of the sum you want refunded. Hopefully service providers will realize that as they exert their power over us, they really abusing our need for their services or products. Sometimes, we just take what they offer to get it over and done with.

Scheduling the crew. Busy households often request for home service on certain days or time. But even if you do, you are told that they cannot assure you their people will drop by at your preferred time and day. Some clients even skip work just so they can have a service fixed. Imagine a day’s salary lost or a wasted vacation leave waiting for no one.

“That’s not under our department.” You can speak with Customer Service Representative A for your technical concerns all day. But for your billing concerns, you need to call back again to speak with Customer Service Representative B. Integrated systems and shared services are now basic in other countries. We long for the day when we can just speak with one person who can handle all our service concerns.

“Sorry” is just the hardest word. After pouring your heart and soul to let them know of the emotional distress their slow service and lack of attention is causing you, the company rep says, “Okay, for this we need to…” The least they can do is apologize, right? Is that so hard? Of course, apologies can be meaningless if they neglect to do anything about your complaint, too.

When they forget we are human. A friend missed paying his credit card bill for a month. When they called, he was asked, “So, ano po ang nangayari?” (What happened?) When he informed them that his father died, the rep said, “Okay, so when can you settle the bill?” He was even reminded of the late payment charges already reflected on his statement of account. Enough said.