In the Suburbs / My futile search for good service
Every now and then I like to complain about service. I don’t deliberately set out to complain, mind you, but certain providers just have a way of ruining my days, weeks, months or beyond and I need to say something to help me calm down. Here are just a couple of juicy, recent cases that that I simply couldn’t resist sharing.
This first gem has to do with signing up for a wireless promotion related to new cable and Internet service. The nightmare began on the day of our new home closing on March 28th. We were traveling back from our lawyer’s office and I thought we could get our cable and Internet all arranged so I called a company we’ve wanted to try. I had no idea that the company had been purchased by a wireless carrier.
Setting up the two services was simple enough until the representative introduced some promotion for two I-phone 8s, a $650 switch on each phone to pay off our current wireless company and a promised discount on our cable service. In a weak moment, I said yes, which opened the flood gates for qualifying us, orienting us to the service and extracting $88 for the taxes to get things going. All I would have to do, I was assured, was to go on line and accept terms and conditions and the phones would be shipped to us within three days — not!
A month has passed since we signed up. Now ask me if I’m satisfied with my new phones. What new phones? They never arrived. And I have made easily 20 phone calls to the service provider.
Once transferred to the wireless provider, the representatives always asked how I was doing that day and asked for my pass code, which, on one occasion, I gladly provided to an idiot who told me the code was wrong. For the next 15 minutes, I was yelling out four-number combinations while the guy patiently said, “Nope, sorry. Try another?”
Finally, out of frustration and anger, I hung up.
I called back again and again and, sure enough, my code was correct each time but I was told that my phones would not be shipped for 7-10 days. I was livid.
Finally, one day this week I decided to give it one more try. This time, finally, a knowledgeable representative told me a more credible story. Apparently when the new company tried porting (transferring) our old numbers, which we had requested, to the new service, they provided the wrong passcode and account number. Why was I not surprised?
Within 15 minutes, I called my old carrier, got the correct codes and account number and called the porting area of the new wireless company back. The phones were released for shipment instantly and will be sent, sadly, to the old address, because we had expected them before our official move.
The second case I’ll share is shorter but a clear example of good advertising followed by bad service. One morning last week at breakfast in my diner I found a place-mat ad for a gutter and roofing guy. The timing was perfect since we do have leaks over our back door and garage.
I called the guy right away, but he gave me somewhat of a third degree—he wanted my phone number, my wife’s number, times she would be home, but barely any questions about our gutter problems. When I asked if he wanted more information, he was more curious about where I’d seen his ad and where I was living.
Our conversation ended with him saying, “I’ll get back to you. What was your name again and what’s the address?”
When I asked for his name, he hung up without giving me his name or even giving me an idea of how soon he might get over for an estimate. Did he ever stop over? Never.
I told the manager of the diner the story and we both had a good laugh. But we also agreed that these kinds of providers are the reason customers have become more skeptical. The advertising is appealing, but the follow through leaves much to be desired.
These were just two examples of incompetence or lack of service, but friends and colleagues were more than willing to share others when I told them my topic. I can only hope that other providers I’ve contacted will at least stop by for estimates. If not, I’ll have to assume that they’re just too busy to take my money.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.