Place: My cubicle at work
Time: Around 11:30am CST
Purpose of call: Find out long distance charge per minute for work phone line
I receive a request to find out the price per minute for long distance calls for the work telephone line. First, it is suggested that I dig up the old invoices to look. Upon review, the invoices are just a summary of charges, therefore no help in determining long distance vs. local and minutes vs. usage charges.
So, the next option was to call AT&T and ask them. Which to me was the simple and obvious solution from the beginning. I look on the bill, locate the “billing questions” number and give it a ring. Still, assuming this is going to be a short and pain free discussion.
The lovely computerized voice starts to ask me questions. Fine, whatever. It wants me to say what I’m looking for. So the very one sided conversation in my cube goes like this:
*Gives up and presses ‘0’
Turns out at this point that the last payment on the bill has not been received yet. They will be happy to continue to assist me as soon as I key in a Credit Card Number.
No, I’m not paying crap. I just need to ask how much fricken a long distance minute costs us.
Sanity: Slipping away
This time I just start pressing zero and don’t stop until I get a live person on the phone. I explain what I need. Oh, well that is a billing question (no shit). So…
Holding, but they really appreciate that I’m holding because they continually tell me so…
Billing picks up. I explain what I need, slowly since now I’ve apparently switched ethnicities and departments. Only to find out we are actually a healthcare account, and there is a different billing department for that (obviously).
Holding, my neck is starting to cramp…
Healthcare Billing picks up. Now I have definitely be switched to a call center in stupidville. I explain my problem only to find out it is a billing questions… WAIT. Isn’t that the department I just called? Yes, but you actually have a healthcare account with a discount… that is taken care of by the billing department for “special deals”.
Holding, I am having trouble not using profanity to describe the situation to anyone in the area…
The Special Needs, or Special Deals department picks up… they inform me that none of the above even matters because our long distance provider is a contracted company and I’ll need to call them. SWEET! That’s just amazing.
At this point I take a break and go to Subway for lunch. It has now been an hour of being on hold and about 15 minutes of actually talking to someone. Not witty or helpful conversations, but I do believe there was a human on the other side.
I call the number given to me for the special long distance contracted company. Who, while they appreciate my call… they cannot help me because they are just the contractor, so the information I need is held at AT&T. They are nice enough to give me the very first number I called! SWEET DEAL.
NOW… I’m pissed.
I call and explain the situation. I’m pretty sure anyone in a 3 cube radius of me could have explained the situation to someone at this point. I explain that I’ve been transferred 10 times in the last hour and dealt with 3 different cultures and at least 2 genders (one I was pretty sure was some kind of hybrid). This nice person is concerned about my experience and wants me to know that this is a “serious customer service issue” — Whoa. Captain Obvious saves the day.
Captain Obvious proceeds to TRANSFER me again.
Mutiny is afoot.
I finally get to someone that lets me know I have a local sales rep and gives me her number. I get her voicemail. I eat some chocolate, walk around the floor, take a deep breath and then in my nicest voice possible I call and leave a message explaining what I need. I hang up feeling like I just wasted an important hour or two of my life and would like it back.
AT&T = The Devil.