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Verizon buys Alltel

January 4, 2009 | Customer service,Verizon


Do you know what this means?


Wait. Does that mean I can get my ringtones back?

Oh, never mind.


Posted by Becky @ 9:10 pm | Comments  

It’s a miracle … a true blue spectacle

October 15, 2008 | Customer service,Economics

I just got the final bill (that I was supposed to get in August) for the security system/service we had in Florida. I was told in July that the final bill would be $30. This one was $80. So I called, and they reduced it to $30. Then I started thinking about it … why did I have a balance due anyway since I canceled it before the next quarterly payment would have been due? I called again. Apparently, I was supposed to give 30 days’ notice, and the final bill was the difference. But then Dan in the billing department said this,

“You know what? You’ve been a loyal customer for many years. I’ll just zero that out for you, and you won’t owe us a thing. Thank you so much for being our customer, and have a great day.”

Blink, blink, blink.


Thanks, Dan with ADT in Jacksonville, Fla. Thank you!

Two telephone calls and $80 down, 248 more calls to go …

Posted by Becky @ 6:18 pm | Comments  

When did platinum’s value plummet?

September 2, 2008 | Banks,Customer service,Ethics

My old bank sent a check to my new bank so we could close on our new house. When explaining things, the loan officer said:

I didn’t charge you the $3 fee to send the check because you’re a platinum member.

Let me explain the irony of that statement.

In June, we faced owning two houses at the same time. I called my bank, where I’ve had my money for 14 years, ever since it was a credit union (until it decided to become a bank in the last year or so).

It has the original mortgage on our house. I needed a loan to get us through the overlap of buying one house and selling another. After convincing Loan Officer #1 (not on the first try, mind you) that we were good for it even in this hideous housing market, she started the paperwork. We swapped faxes and phone calls. Things seemed to be moving along. Then, the day before she left on vacation, she faxed some forms she wanted me to sign, acknowledging that my house was in a flood zone.

Umm. No.

My house is not in a flood zone now. It wasn’t in a flood zone in 2002 when we got the original mortgage through the credit union, but #1 needed “proof.” So, in other words, she didn’t have “proof” in my files for the original mortgage? Nope.

Well, that’s her problem, not mine, right? Not if I want this loan.


So I called my insurance company, which quoted me $3,500/year for Zone A flood insurance. Paid in full. Up front. Before closing.

Then I spent the next several hours calling neighbors and walking door to door in the pouring rain, gathering documentation. Before the end of business that day, I faxed to Loan Officer #2 (who was to take over while #1 was on vacation) the documents (including a FEMA Letter of Map Revision) that showed the neighborhood was NOT in a flood zone. I provided the name and telephone number of the flood-certification company that was listed on a neighbor’s property.

When I talked to #2 the next day, she was reluctant to call the company, so I called. Someone there pulled the certification that said my property was not in a flood zone. But she couldn’t send me a copy. She could only send it to the requesting lender.

“Who ordered the certification?” I asked.

“Sunshine State Credit Union,” she said. “In 2002.”

My bank.

I called #2, gave her the telephone number again, this time with a person’s name and extension number, as well as the certification number on my property, fully expecting her to call and clear up everything. Well, no. She would call the bank’s current flood-certification company and have an answer for me in 24 to 48 hours.

That time came and went. In the meantime, I called around to find the documentation needed: the property-management company for our homeowners association, the company that did the survey on my property and the county administrator’s office, who would contact FEMA for me — in other words, I was doing #2’s job. And she refused to acknowledge any of the information I sent her.

And she still refused to call the original flood-certification company.

After hearing that the current flood-certification company believed my house was in a flood zone and things like, “FEMA says the document does not exist,” I realized she would never pull her head out and do her job. I called the executive vice president of the bank, someone I had worked with in the past, and chewed his ear for a while. He later gathered his little troops together (#2 and the underwriter), and they called me on the speakerphone. They apologized. And, oh, they would work SO hard and do everything possible to get this whole thing resolved.

Less than 24 hours later, I got an e-mail from the underwriter, saying, “At this point we have exhausted all avenues to resolve this issue.” He listed all the places he called, trying to get information. Was the original flood-certification company on that list? Of course not.

So I called it again. I said, look, I realize you can’t send me a copy of the certification, but since my bank is unwilling to request a copy, I need more information. She pulled up my certification. I asked if she had a copy of the FEMA LOMR letter my neighbors had. She did, but she could not find a document that specifically mentioned my address. She filed a request for me and put a rush on it.

Within HOURS, someone from the company called me. He went through the hard-copy archives and found the FEMA LOMR letter written for my property in 1994. The document my bank said that FEMA said did not exist.

“It’s a public record,” he said. “Do you want a copy?”

“HELL yeah!”

I sent it to the executive VP.

So, yeah. My bank was perfectly willing to make this “platinum member” pay $3,500 for flood insurance I did not need. But that fee to send the check? Well, they wouldn’t make me pay that. So what’s that “platinum” membership worth?

Oh, about three bucks.

Dear Sunshine Savings Bank,

As a credit union, you were O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G. That’s why I was with you for so long.

As a bank? You suck.



And, oh yeah. I’ll be calling you soon to request the title on my car so I can get license plates here. I’m sure as a “platinum member,” I won’t be trusted to put my hands on it and take it to the courthouse because, you know, we platinum members are a shifty bunch. But, hey, at least you won’t charge me for the stamp to send it to the courthouse. Right?

Update 9/4: Wow. I’m not even allowed to request that my title be sent. Oh, no. The county office had to write a letter to my bank, explaining that I moved (please stop pretending as if you don’t already know that) and that I would need to register my car in a new state. Hmph.

You still suck.

Posted by Becky @ 11:48 am | 2 Comments  

Ginny’s dad at Verizon knows from customer service

April 29, 2008 | Customer service,Verizon

“Awwwww … Ginny’s dad … comin’ to the rescue!”

Dear Verizon,

How many years have we been together? I know. It’s been a long time. Why are you still here? Oh, that’s right. Because I keep paying my bills. Why am I still here? I’ve often wondered. You’ve pissed me off more times than I can count. But you know that already. Because I’ve told you many, many times, haven’t I?

My television wasn’t working this morning. I sighed, rolled my eyes and braced myself for what I figured was a few days’ worth of customer-service purgatory.

Call #1: Got the customer-service robot on the line, verifying account information, asking me what my problem was, not understanding, asking again. I pressed zero to get a customer-service human being, and the robot kept talking, not understanding and asking me to repeat. Zero. Zero. Zero. Finally she transferred my call. To purgatory.

Call #2: Got the customer-service robot on the line, jumped through the hoops and got to the “fixing the problem” part. But I answered a question incorrectly and couldn’t get her to stop. I didn’t just press zero this time, I held it down. And, poof, there was Ginny’s dad. Like magic.

Ah, Ginny’s dad. He just saved Verizon. Seriously. One guy. He walked me through the steps, sent new signals, had me push buttons, unplug and plug cords. All the while he cracked jokes, gave me a weather report from Dallas and talked about movies, Dora and Diego (and the Spanish-speaking trees) and his 3-year-old daughter.

Best of all? He got my television to work. But the bonus? His rendition of Diego’s Rescue Pack song.

Give that man a raise.



Posted by Becky @ 10:02 am | 3 Comments  

Life takes Visa … unless we’re talking about MY life

March 14, 2008 | Airlines,Customer service,Visa

Dear Visa,

Thanks for giving it the old college try. You could have just ignored me, which is about what I’ve come to expect. But, hey, you tried. Right?

You didn’t do anything, though, because your “research indicated” that I “voluntarily purchased another set of tickets” to get out of Norway.

Yeah. About that word … voluntarily? Well, here’s the deal.

If someone held a gun to my head and demanded all my money? It’s a pretty safe bet I would voluntarily hand over everything I had in my purse. Especially if I had my three children with me. Heck, I’d even voluntarily hand over my whole purse, which, you know, is where I keep my Visa card. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want it all back when the jerk was arrested. And I bet your ears would perk up about the whole Visa-card part of the deal.

But, whatever. I’ve gotten about $3,000 back from the airline all on my own, thankyouverymuch. Guess I’ll have to get the rest of it on my own too.

Your lowly customer-bot,


Posted by Becky @ 12:56 pm | 1 Comment  

Privacy? We don’t need no stinkin’ privacy!

January 29, 2008 | Airlines,Customer service,Privacy


So the Privacy Act of 1974 requires my senator to get my written consent before he can legally act on my behalf. You know. So he doesn’t look like he’s Tricky Dick or something. (Don’t turn off SafeSearch when you’re searching for Tricky Dick. Trust me.) But he needs my Social Security number. To, you know, act on my behalf.

OK. Can he get my $6,000 back? All-righty. Here’s my Social Security number. My mailing address. My property-tax records. My telephone number. My cell number. My income-tax records. My credit-card and bank-account numbers. My e-mail passwords. Anything else? My health records. DNA and blood samples. A satellite photograph of me standing in front of my house. Really. See? There I am.

Will that do? Call me, OK? You’ve got my number now.

Posted by Becky @ 9:28 pm | Comments  

Companies respond to service complaints

January 25, 2008 | Customer service



I mentioned the other day that Karen at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied service at Steak ‘n Shake. She’s been busy since then, responding to bloggers on the Internet and appearing on the local news.

Matthew at Childs Play x2 got a “one-time exception” for customer service from Home Decorators. Not exactly “exceptional customer service,” but he’ll take it.

Posted by Becky @ 9:51 am | 2 Comments  

But the emporer has nothing on at all!

January 23, 2008 | Advertising,Airlines,Customer service,Economics,Ethics,No clothes!,Norway,PR


I was discussing the Gates of Hell chapter of the Nightmare in Norway with someone the other night.

“I would have said, ‘I want to speak to your boss, and your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss, NOW’ … you know … go up the chain of command,” he said.

Chain of command. Yeah, the military does that to a person, I guess. Maybe that works in that world.

But, really, how much latitude does a customer-bot (we’re not human beings anymore) have in an airport before going from concerned about service to a security threat? I mean, how many times could I have told Haris, “I want to speak to your boss,” before he felt “threatened” by me and sent me spiraling into the Circles of Hell to, you know … stun guns, shackles, detention, jail … that sorta thing? I mean … really?

Besides, who’s to say Haris the employee-bot (they’re not human beings anymore either) wouldn’t have just said, “No.”

Then what?

It’s happened before. I called a “customer service” line to ask for, well, customer service. (Oh, silly me.) When I got nowhere with the employee-bot, I asked to speak to his supervisor. He put me on hold. He came back and told me his supervisor refused to speak to me.

Refused to speak to me.

I asked for the name of the president of the company. He said he didn’t know. “Well, could you check?” I asked. He put me on hold again. He came back and said, “It’s against company policy to give you that information.”

It was against company policy to tell me who runs the company.

He was right. I couldn’t find the president’s name anywhere on the company Web site. In fact, three companies were involved, and none of their contact information was available through any of the companies. I had to look them up by other means. But, hey, I found them. (I need to write a love letter to the Internet.) I sent an e-mail to all of them and the customer-service department. To their credit, they actually resolved my problem. Very satisfactorily, even.

Apparently, though, it’s become standard operating procedure that employee-bots (and their CEOs) do not work for customer-bots — even if they are in the service industry. Hell, employee-bots don’t even work for their CEOs anymore. They work for the computer screens in front of them. They can only do what their computers tell them to do, which — when it comes to customer-bots — usually isn’t much.

I suppose PR bullshit goes way back, and none of this is new. Am I the only one who can remember things like “the customer is always right” … or was that just PR bullshit too? I couldn’t help thinking about The Emporer’s New Clothes, which I recently grabbed off the shelf for my son. (I got the Virginia Lee Burton pictures from a 1968 version of the book by Scholastic Book Services.)

You call your employees co-workers and expect them (and us) to believe it?

No clothes!


You say you “work hard to earn my business every time I fly”?

No clothes!


You say, “They’ll hold the plane for you”?

No clothes!


You say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do”?

No clothes!


It’s not like I’ve never gotten good customer service. I got incredible service yesterday, in fact. More than once. (I’ll write about it one of these days.) But when I get excellent or good or, heck, even fair-to-middling customer service, isn’t it a shame that it makes me want to weep with joy? Why should it be the exception and not the rule?

I ran across a few examples of suckass non-service just skimming through my feeder this morning. Matthew at Childs Play x2 warns his readers not to shop at Home Decorators. Planet Nomad writes about inexplicable weirdness at Starbucks. CrankMama has a few choice words to say about Verizon. Updated: I just found this priceless exchange on Hotfessional. Updated2: Wow. They just keep coming. Karen at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied service at Steak ‘n Shake.

What’s your suckiest non-service experience? Who deserves the “No clothes!” seal of disapproval?

Posted by Becky @ 7:54 pm | 3 Comments  

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