This is me yesterday afternoon after getting off the phone with customer "service" at Charter Communications, our new, full-service (as in bundled) telecommunications provider. You may recall that there were some issues with the installation of/transition to their digital package earlier in the week.
The issues continue. I went to watch some Tivo's programs yesterday afternoon and discovered that none had been recorded since the changeover. Hmm. One thing was clear. Something was amiss since the installation. (First rule of computer programming--among other life situations: when something was working and now isn't the first question you ask is: what is different between then and now?)
I won't belabor the details of my encounter with Charter's customer service department when I called to say, in short, "this isn't acceptable." Let's just say that after speaking with four people--one of them a supervisor--the notion of satisfying the customer wasn't in their play book. At least I had a chance to exercise my acquired skill of not being pushed around when I was told "no" by the likes of such. I was so annoyed that I went to the computer and googled the company, actually finding a listing for their headquarters and a phone number to call. I took a breath and plunged in.
What does it tell you when the automated voice at the other end of the phone at corporate headquarters offers the options, "are you a residential customer, a business customer, or is this a customer service escalation?" I pressed "3."
Abbie took my call, and could not have been more gracious, understanding and sympathetic to my plight. She immediately diffused my anger and set about the task of resolving my dilemma. Further, here it was Friday afternoon, we leave for vacation on Sunday (read: there are a bunch of programs to record during that time), and our window of opportunity to set things right is small and far from optimal. But she did it. A technician will be here late this afternoon to make the adjustment to our system and all should be well. Now, was that so hard? A customer has been satisfied and the earth did not have to move to make it happen.
I have mixed feelings about how to look at Charter. They have provided less than adequate service all through this process, which gives them a very low score in the competence and service areas. And yet, they have a level of customer service that in the end put the conflict to rest. How to evaluate...
Remember Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof? When beseeched by a daughter to change his "no" to "yes" he takes his conflict to God. "On the one hand," he says, and offers up a point to support his case. Then, "On the other hand," he weighs an argument made by the opposition. It's one of my favorite depictions of personal struggle to which a sense of fairness is applied. Tevye rocks.
I think I am a fair person. This situation won't stick in my craw and I will move on and enjoy my television and my Tivo. I don't hold grudges. I will smile this afternoon at the technician and be pleasant and thank him for coming and making things right. I will do all that I can to be sure they are right before he leaves. And for the 20th time since moving here and giving up my satellite (trees interfere with our access to the southern sky) I will renew my pledge to return to satellite as soon as it is possible.
I think that's fair.