Do you tip?  My mother-in-law hates to tip.  She hates it so much that she would rather glare and me and curse me in Spanish (which she doesn’t think I can understand) than leave two dollars for a toothless, pregnant, ratty haired waitress who brought her the pork roast sandwich at Denny’s.  Why is that?  I ask myself every time we have dinner with her and I have to endure the embarrassment.  Is it a difference in cultures?  Is it the fact that she’s cheap?  I can’t really tell you, but I think it all boils down to the lost art of customer service.  She truly believes that good CS does not deserve a couple of extra bucks.  I, on the other hand, believe quite the opposite.

I recently had a pretty shitty experience with a major cell phone carrier.  I won’t name any names (can you hear me now…good), but I had a phone that quit working.  As is the policy, I sent the phone back in the box they provided after they sent me a warranty replacement.  I thought that was the end of the ordeal.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

About a month and a half later, I went online to check my bill and much to my chagrin I found that I not only owed them my normal monthly fee (which is ridiculous enough, by the way), but added to that was the amount of $499.99.  “What the hell could that be from?” I wondered aloud.  I actually did.  You can ask my cubicle mate.  In order to find out, I dialed *611 on my wireless device (have you figured out what service I’m with yet?) and reached a customer service rep.  This young woman very politely proceeded to apologize profusely for the mistake and assured me it would be corrected quickly.  She asked for some basic information and said she was filing a “trouble ticket” and would get back to me as soon as she had more information.  She then asked: “is there anything else I can help you with?”  As if I was going to say: “why yes, since you’re screwing me out of five hundred bucks I don’t have, why don’t I upgrade my plan to unlimited everything.”  No…I’m good.

A month went by and I forgot about it.  I know, I know…I should have followed up, but I’m busy.  Then the collections calls started rolling in.  “Sir, your service will be interrupted if you don’t take care of this balance.”  Why the hell would I take care of a balance I didn’t rack up?  Once I explained the situation, I was immediately transferred to customer service.  I was forced to repeat the entire story all over again.  Then, this young man proceeded to degrade his customer service colleague, stating she didn’t fill out the trouble ticket correctly.  This is why it wasn’t resolved, he explained.  I nodded like an idiot on the other end and gave him all the info I gave her, plus a little more that he asked for.  Again, I was promised a follow up call, but that never came either.  More calls from the collection department who cleverly disguised themselves as “financial services.”  By this point I had become so accustomed to the calls as soon as I answered, I immediately said: “please transfer me to customer service.”

One “financial servicer” didn’t like this answer and asked me for some more information.  He didn’t like it when I said: “my balance is so high because you lost my phone.”

“Sir,” he replied. “I’ve never seen your phone.”

You’re right, dip shit…you didn’t lose my phone.  I’m using “you” in the general sense of your company.  Whatever.  That comment earned me a hang up.  I’m sure the call “accidentally” dropped when he was transferring me to the every waiting customer non-service.

The next month and a half was more of the same.  It actually got to the point where my service was interrupted for about an hour.  That was quickly rectified by a pretty heated call.

Finally, I followed up with a true master of customer service.  I called.  I explained the situation (for probably…no exaggeration…the 30th time) while he reviewed the extensive notes.  It took this guy five minutes to locate the phone utilizing the ESN (electronic serial number) and find out that the phone had not only been received by Verizon Wireless (whoops…let the cat out of the bag) but had been refurbished and sent back out to another customer.  If that’s the case, then why have I been charged five hundred dollars and numerous late fees?  The young man had no answer, but he and his supervisor quickly reversed all the charges.

Now…why did it take this long?  Because people don’t give a shit about their jobs.  What did the first, second, third, or any of the customer service folks care that I was getting hosed?  They stuck to their script, they asked their questions, but they didn’t resolve anything.  I agree the CS can be a shitty job, and I’m sure that there are douche bags out there that holler and scream.  All of you that I talked to are lucky I’m a pretty nice guy.  I never once raised my voice or played the “blame game” except to that one snotty “financial servicer” aka collection agent.  The point of this 900 word diatribe is that we all need to be a bit better at what we do.  Let’s have a bit more pride in our work, because if I screwed up my job as bad as they screwed up theirs (comparatively speaking, of course) somebody would be dead instead of owing an extra five hundred bucks.  Think about it.