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Another Special Conversation

September 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

So, yeah.  People.  What is the deal with them?

A comment on my previous post reminded me of yet another odd telephone conversation I had.  This was quite a long time ago, when I had to call the telephone company to clear up a question about my bill.

I had been living in upstate New York for 7 or 8 months when I found a major error on my telephone bill.  So I called NYNEX in a vain attempt to clear things up.  The problem boiled down to NYNEX having some rather stunningly and obviously incorrect information in the record for my account, but not bothering to correct it.  Which was costing me hundreds of dollars. 

Naturally, then, I asked why they hadn't bothered to clear things up. The response?

"We didn't know how to get in touch with you."

Not to sound like Dave Barray Barry [corrected 9/8] here, but I am not making this up.  Yes.  The telephone company claimed that it didn't know how to contact me.  Which, if you think about it for a microsecond, might strike you as a rather odd claim for the telephone company to make.  Which in fact I pointed out.  To the best of my recollection, my response went something like this:

*argle bargle head asplode*

"You're the telephone company.  Why couldn't you CALL ME?"

To which I received another improbable excuse.  Something about confidentiality and customer records, blah blah blah.  (I wish I was making this up.  I really do.)  Prompting me to point out that my account number—which the dickhead on the telephone had already used to look up my records in the first place—WAS my telephone number. (But as I also pointed out, there was essentially a wire that ran from their office TO MY FREAKING HOUSE.  Telephone numbers aside, they could have followed that to my front door.)

But anyway, yeah.  Another true confession from my history of spectacularly bad luck on the telephone.

Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, NYNEX went defunct soon after this.  Go figure.  Probably for the best, though.  Better to have a telephone company run by people who KNOW HOW TO USE THE TELEPHONE.


ElenaG September 4, 2011 at 8:57 am
Ian, if you ever run out of surreal phone conversations, you should try and call the YMCA up here. Just for the fun of it. First of all, they always start with: "Good morning, it's a wonderful day here at the YMCA, how can I help you?" They must love the fact that YMCA rhymes with day. I've had many surreal conversation that started with the lovely sentence, including trying to convince them that yes, I did register my kids and paid lots of money for that, and while they were having a wonderful day they managed to lose all the records of my transactions. Or the time I called them to tell them that they hadn't applied the second-child discount and hence they owed me $20 bucks. They replied, "Well, it's your fault for not reminding the cashier about the discount." Or the time I tried to register the kids for one day of extra care and they were trying to charge me $98 when the whole week would have cost $120. I tried to argue it didn't make sense, and after twenty minutes of arguing they sent me home because the system was down. As the famous phrase in the movie "W" goes, "Too much thinking screws you." Must hold for computers at the Y too. Next time I call them I'll reply: "It's a f***ing day here where I am, care make my day wonderful too?"
Ian September 4, 2011 at 9:52 am
Wow-- that is hilariously bad. Well, probably not that hilarious when you're dealing with it. Sort of hilarious from the sidelines, though :) It's been my observation that customer service up on The Hill is consistently as bad as anyplace I've ever seen it. I've never dealt with the YMCA up there, but I've certainly had my share of mind-bogglingly poor service in restaurants, in stores, and at the theater. There are some places where the people are great, but those are rarities. Honestly, it's one of the reasons I moved.
Steve Halter September 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm
Watch out or the phone cops will be after you.
Charlie Greenberry September 8, 2011 at 9:50 am
Because of a delightful image that popped into my head upon reading this post, I'm going to start a telephone company that employs ninjas. When there is a problem with a phone, they will crawl down the actual wires to the home of the customer, sneak into his/her home, fix things, and then crawl back down the wires to headquarters for a cup o' joe. Of course, this will likely be complicated by underground cables. I suppose I can hire ninja ghosts.
Ian September 8, 2011 at 10:44 am
I'm pretty sure they have those. But instead of fixing things, they break them.
Charlie Greenberry September 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Makes sense. That's why I've switched to cell only. Waves are harder to follow.
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