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“Is There Anything Else I Can Be of Help For”

January 8, 2013

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“Thank you for calling today, Mr. Shemahan, I’m very sorry for your problem and I’m going to work to solve your problem today.” The only thing they can hear more clearly than my sobs is the sound of my head banging against the desk.

Just once, I want to call in and have them pronounce my name even phonetically correct– I guess I’ll keep holding out for Irish call centers. Think of how much more fun it would be to call an Irish tech support line– eh, I digress.

I would rather be waterboarded in a dark room in an Eastern Bloc country than have to call a customer support line for any major retailer or utility company. OK, I’m exaggerating a little bit but the latter often feels like a fair comparison to the ordeal that is trying to get what you pay for in this country.

The final insult to the American consumer was the outsourcing of customer service to foreign countries. Its really just as insulting to the poor people who have to work in these places and deal with frustrated ignoramuses like yours truly, but they’re being paid so I’m going to make sure they suffer like the rest of us working folk. “Please enter your account number.” Ok. “Please enter your online account number.” WTF-who’s idea was it to have two account numbers for the same account. Ok. “Please enter your date of birth.” OK. “Please enter the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.” OK I literally have to think about this, and count backwards. I’ve been drinking and this is difficult, why cant you just ask for the last four digits like every other place. OK. “Thank you, your call is being transferred. Please be advised we are experiencing unusually long hold times.” I mean, can you just take that part of the recording down? That message is the equivalent of seeing a “Speed Limit Enforced By Aircraft” sign on the highway. Until a drone shoots a Hellfire missile at the car speeding in front of me, I’m not slowing down, and I will not be intimidated by your bogus hold time warning, either.

“Hello, Mr. Shahehan. Thank you for putting in your information that only you would know. Can you now please confirm your date of birth, home address, mother’s maiden name, name of your second grade teacher, name of the centerfold in the first Playboy you ever looked at, where you were on 9/11, my name, my son’s name and the exact spelling of the Duke Basketball coach’s last name.” Sweet Jesus, all I want to know is why is my channel fuzzy!!!!!!!

Its not surprising that the countries where these call centers are located have a low opinion of Americans. First off, half of these people in these places can hardly put food on their table which probably puts my immediate need for the NFL RedZone channel in a perspective from which I’m slightly removed…as I’m wondering if it will be the next barbecue wing or Coors Light that’s going to put me in my food coma.

The worst part is that companies saw how effectively these scripted calls irritated the consumer past the point of caring about whatever it was he/she called about and adopted the same script for the handful of call centers remaining in the states. Though, sometimes when I call and I get someone in Queens, I wonder if we’re speaking the same language. At least the people overseas pretend to be genuinely concerned and want to help, the American ones don’t even keep up pretenses anymore. Before I can even give an account number, I’m getting transferred to another department who just happens to be closed. The only thing made in America anymore is apathy.

I think we can all be in agreement that the “scripted” parts of the call are the most frustrating, however, no part of the script is more frustrating than the part at the end, when I’ve just realized that 45 minutes of my life are gone and never returning and my problem remains unsolved– I get hit with a “Mr. Shameen, is there anything else I can help you with?”

Really? I mean, I know you have to say it because the call is “being recorded for quality assurance” and you’ll get lashed if you don’t ask me, but how am I supposed to respond when you ask how you can be of further assistance when you’ve been of absolutely no assistance for the 45 minutes? It sends my blood pressure to dangerous levels. That’s like a cardiologist waking me up from surgery, telling me that my pulmonary artery is still 90% clogged but that he found a small mole on my arm and I might want to consider getting it looked at. Thanks for your “help.” Then you want to ask me to complete a survey or sell me the Spanish language channels? To quote the always apropos Chris Farley, “SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, WILL YOU STOP THIS CRUEL GAME!”

Meanwhile, I’m going to open another bottle of bourbon and start looking at well-priced shacks in Montana where I could pen a manifesto…

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