Wednesday, December 17, 2008


TimeWarner.jpegIt was 8pm when the phone rang.

TW: Hello, this is Betty. I’m conducting a survey for Time-Warner to see if you’re satisfied with our customer service.

[Note: Time-Warner is the conglomerate that provides my cable service and my Internet hookup, Roadrunner. Betty sounded like she was 12 years old. I figured maybe Time-Warner was outsourcing their phone surveys to the Girl Scouts of America.]

TW: Sir, did you speak to a Time-Warner service representative with a problem in the past three days?

MK: No.

TW: Our records indicate that you did.

MK: No, I’m pretty sure that I — no wait — I did call tech support a few days ago. Roadrunner was down. I had no Internet connection. Yes, I definitely want to take this survey. I have a complaint that I would like to go on record.

TW: Do you remember the name of the person who helped you?

MK: I never got through to a live person. That’s my complaint. I wound up in Phone Automation Hell. First I had to listen to a long message about all the neighborhoods where the cable TV is out. I wasn’t calling about cable TV. I was calling about Roadrunner. And for the record, the message they played was for Friday’s outages, and I called on a Saturday.

TW: I need the name of the person who helped you.

MK: That’s my point. I never got a person. Nobody helped me.

TW: If you didn’t speak to anyone then you can’t take this survey.

MK: Wait, wait. Don’t hang up. I want to take the survey. Let’s start again.

TW: Okay. [sound of papers rustling] Hello, this is Betty. I’m conducting a survey for Time-Warner to see if you’re satisfied with our customer service.

[I’ll edit out the next few minutes and skip to the part where I ask Betty if I can speak to her mother or her supervisor. For the record, the supervisor, Jessica, sounded like she was twenty-something.]

TW: Hello, this is Jessica. I’m told you want to take our customer service survey, but since you never spoke to anyone, you’re not eligible.

MK: I may have misspoken. I did speak to someone.

TW: Do you remember that person’s name?

MK: I think it was Hal. He said things like Press 1, Press 2, Press 3 a lot. And if I pressed anything else, like say — Zero — he kept saying that’s not an option. Then he kept repeating himself. Wouldn’t listen to a word I said. Very rude.

TW: Sir, that was a computer, not a person. We’re doing a survey to see if you’re satisfied with our customer service.

MK: So then, technically, the computer isn’t part of your customer service.

TW: No sir. Customer service is just real people.

MK: So then what department does the computer work in?

TW: Sir?

MK: Maybe the computer is part of your Sales Prevention Department.

TW: Sir, do you want to take part in our survey?

MK: Yes, Jessica. I would very much like to complain about your lousy customer service, but since it is so bad that I never actually got through to a human being, I am technically not entitled to complain. Is that correct?

TW: Yes sir.

MK: Do you see the irony in that?

TW: No sir.

MK: Jessica, I think I’d like to speak to your supervisor.

TW: I am the supervisor, sir.

MK: There’s nobody that outranks you?

TW: No sir.

MK: In that case can you put Betty back on the phone please?

TW: Sir, you’re not eligible to take the survey. Can I ask why you want to speak to Betty?

MK: I’d like to order some Girl Scout cookies. Two boxes of the Samoa and two Thin-Mints.

I hung up before she could.