May 18, 2007

I'm here - or - 66:37

Sixty-six, thirty seven. I know what you're thinking... There's no possible way he is going to waste my time reading another pointless post about a customer service call with Verizon. That's what you're thinking.

And you know what? You're wrong. You've over-estimated me.
I'm about to waste your time.

But I'm not going to waste your time for no apparent reason. This one is worth it. Mainly because the ineptitude at Verizon DSL Customer Service has reached such absurdly inane proportions, I honestly thought I was being Punk'd for a few minutes. Mostly, for sixty six minutes and thirty seven seconds.

Unless you've been lost inside a jihad lately, you have probably noticed the recent trend in corporate America towards outsourcing customer service duties to India. After all, it's so much cheaper to do it over there. I mean, really, who needs to pay non-Americans a fair and decent salary?! (And I say that with a twenty-five pound bag of sarcasm strapped to my jowls.)

From my far-too-extensive customer service experiences, I'd have to say that United Airlines is, without a doubt, the most incompetent organization within this field. I'm not sure if it's because they're trying to save too much money or that they truly don't care about their customers. Either way, they've screwed it all up. Whereas most other major US corporations seem to get their customer service personnel from Emily Post's Indian School of Higher Education and Proper Telephonic Mannerisms, United Airlines appears to have plucked their telephone wizardry from India's Mentally Challenged Institute for the Deaf and Apathetic.

But I digress. We're here to talk about Verizon.

To tell you the truth, it seems like Verizon actually cares about what they're doing. They really want to be of help. Unfortunately, they're not.

I'm not sure if the customer service representative to whom I was speaking today was based in India. For all I know, he could've been sitting on a ranch in Boise. Either way, there was a communication gap between us that was so large, I fell in quite a few times... and got really frustrated trying to pull myself out.

I called up customer service because I could not access the Internet with my new modem that I had to pay $90 for after a two hour and sixteen minute exercise in frustration. My new modem would turn on, but no connection was to be had. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing was working.

The first thing most of these DSL customer service people tend to do is have you unplug your modem and restart your computer. Since I always do that a few times before I even call, I tend to get frustrated right from the get-go. Fortunately, today's customer service chap didn't ask me to restart. Chalk one quick point up for Verizon.

Unfortunately, that's where the problems began.

I knew I was in for trouble the moment the customer service gentleman came on the phone and took a good 30 seconds to get out the words "Hello, my name is Ed." There is no way in hell that this guy's name was Ed. Edpernathastysum, I would maybe believe. Just plain Ed? No way. So I couldn't help but let out a chuckle when he used such an overly American name as a self-reference. OK, whatever. I didn't harp on the subject and promised to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I explained the problem and we began to work on a solution.

Why dun you....uh..... put on.... no...ummm... why dun you.... turn on.... I on..... control panel.

By the time he got through the sentence, I was already looking at the control panel.

He continued. Click on.....uh...... you there?

Yes, I'm here, I said. Click on what? What do you want me to click on?

Click on....uh..... in the control

It seemed he may have been reading something, though I couldn't tell whether it was a technology how-to manual or an English translation dictionary. Suffice to say, before he could even finish his sentence, I interrupted him...

Where do you want me to go? Do you want me to go to the Internet Connection Settings?


OK, I'm there.

Alright... he said. hello? you still there? hello?

Yes, I'm here, I replied, wondering a bit if he couldn't hear me through this phone.

OK... what does Internet Connection Setting say? he continued.

It says nothing, I replied. It's a screen with two icons, it says absolutely nothing.

Oh, Ed responded. Go to click...go to property. Hello? You there? Hello?

Yes, I'm here, I said. I'm going into properties.

I followed his lead and then proceeded to give him the information he was requesting, at which point I waited for him to respond.

Hello? he said. You there? Hello?

This was odd. It would seem that he couldn't hear me. Yet every time he asked me if I was here, it was at times when there was no reason for me to say anything.

Yes, I'm here, I replied again in a somewhat annoyed tone. Can you not hear me?! I started speaking loudly, wondering about this phone connection.

Yes, your voice is very clear, Ed said somewhat matter of factly, leaving me wondering why the hell he kept asking if I was still on the phone in the first place.

You sound yun, he said.

Excuse me?!

You sound yun, he repeated himself

Yun? What's yun?

You sound yun, he repeated. Not old. Yun. You have very nice voice.

That's about when it started feeling creepy - when Mr. Verizon turned from Customer Service helper to a somewhat freaky homosexual pedophile. I didn't know what to say. Isn't this conversation being taped? Didn't my mother warn me decades ago about talking to these kind of people?

Oh "younG", I said. I'm not young. I'm old.
Let's change the subject very quickly, I thought to myself.

There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments.

Hello? he said. You there? Hello?

I'M HERE!!! I yelled. Jesus Christ almighty.

We proceeded to spend the next 50 minutes trying to adjust the settings on my computer until my frustration reached its peak.

Listen, I said as my proverbial rope reached it's proverbial last thread. The problem is not with my computer settings! It is not with my internet settings! It is not with ANYTHING on my computer! The problem is with the modem. It is the modem. How many times do I have to tell you what the problem is!!!! I have been able to access the Internet many times over the past week from many different locations. My computer works fine, do you understand that?! The only place I can not get online is here, at my home, with this Verizon modem. IT IS THE MODEM THAT ISN'T WORKING!

Apparently I talked too fast for him, because he tried to have me look at my Internet settings again.

Please would Explorer.

NO! I exclaimed with the fury of Hurricane Katrina. No, I will NOT open Internet Explorer. The problem is NOT with my browser. Do you hear me?! I yelled. IT IS NOT MY COMPUTER!!!

Apparently whatever I said - or perhaps even the manner in which I said it - was able to bridge our intelligence gap. He told me he needed to put me on hold and get technology advice from a supervisor.

Great, I said. Go get advice. See ya.

As I was on hold, I decided to try a few basic tinkers of my own. In fact, I decided to go back to the basics. I unplugged the modem, let it sit for 30 seconds and plugged it back in.

Guess what. All of the sudden the Internet connection worked. I could get online.

In another minute, Ed came back on the phone.

Good news, Ed, I said. I'm back online. Unfortunately the wireless connection from the modem isn't working. I need to get the wireless working. can access Internet? he asked.

Yes, but I can't do it via wireless.

Hello? You there? Hello?

I took a big breathe and counted to 5. Yes, Ed. I'm here. I am still here. I haven't left. I haven't gone anywhere. Why would you expect me to leave?!?

Ed and I continued our little banter as he led me in all the wrong directions to try and fix my wireless access. After another twenty minutes, I realized it was a simple channel error. My modem was on Channel 11. It needed to be on Channel 9. I made the switch in all of three seconds and everything worked fine.

That's enough, Ed, I said. I'm all set. Goodbye.

As I hung up the phone I looked at the timer. 66:37. And all I could imagine was Ed, still waiting on the other side of the phone line, trying to talk to me.

Hello? You there? Hello?


triathlonmom said...

Hilarious. It looks like their tactic worked -- make help so difficult that you find it easier to fix it yourself!
I just spent 6 days with no DIAL TONE and NO Internet thanks to Verizon. I mean, why does it take 6 friggin' days to fix a problem? Poor guys had to come out 6-8 times before they could get it right, and all i did was upgrade to DSL.