I subscribe to a number of things online. I am a sucker for free things so I tend to not so carefully sign up for various newsletters and notifications while surfing the Net. It isn't really “surfing”, you know. I would rather call it “perusing”. The other term doesn't match up. I know, I used to do the actual surfing when I was a young man of 18 and 19. That would be riding waves along the ocean shore, not wandering through porn sites.
There are some similarities. If you are not careful, you could end up bruised a bit in either situation. But that's about as far as the comparison goes. Maybe we could add in that each induces you to say stupid things. But the dangers in real surfing are physical as opposed to the financial dangers in careless Net surfing. And I don't get the great rush of adrenalin or the pleasant zen like Nirvana from the Net that I once enjoyed at the beach. Not to mention I felt much cleaner emerging from the water than I do withdrawing from the Net.
Anyway, this isn't about surfing of either type. It's about customer service calls. A rather poor segue but bear with me. One of the subscriptions I collected along the way was a Miami Herald offer to send me Dave Barry columns. If you do not know who Dave Barry is, click the link that is his name. A quick explanation is that Dave is what so many of us Bloggers want to be (or think we are). The most recent offering from the Miami Herald was a column Dave wrote back in 2000 (I did not realize when I signed up that Dave no longer did columns for the Herald and that these would be “vintage” columns) about waiting on the phone for customer service.
The column inspired a few comments from readers; only a few of which actually realized they were reading a column written ten years ago. More than a few thought their comments should (or did) equal Dave's humor. And that is where the telemarketers come into play. Most comments concerned telemarketing rather than customer service.
Like Dave, I hate calling customer service. I am sure you do as well. The only thing making such calls tolerable for me is the speakerphone button on my cordless handset. Since I only have one good ear, I risk damaging that by holding the phone to it for the seemingly infinite wait for a customer service representative who is probably on break or dealing with some other angry and abusive caller. So, as soon as I hear the “Your call is very important to us...your wait time is...”, I punch the speakerphone button and set the phone down next to me and go back to whatever mindless game I was playing on the computer, my one good ear all a-twitch waiting for the allegedly live voice of the representative. This way I do not have to actually listen to the recycled elevator music that is being played and interrupted at irregular intervals with the “Your call is important, please stay on the line” announcements which are at least 100 decibels above the music.
I would not make these calls at all if I could find a decent alternative. Sometimes I can just email tech support with a question but I find these rarely result in anything positive. Mostly they deteriorate into my explaining the problem in different ways in a series of emails in a vain attempt to get the recipient to understand the actual problem and why everything he has offered as a “fix” has already been tried and failed. Which is how the phone calls go once I finally get through, now that I think about it.
It is much like the old Complaint Department (now also called “Customer Service”) desks in department stores. The main purpose of which was to fool the customer into believing that anyone remotely connected to the store cared at all.
And they wonder why our landfills are overflowing...