Tag Archives: call

DIY: Britney Spears’ private phone number

What are the odds Britney and I would have the exact same outfit? Dammit! Image source: OMG! Why? Why? My eyes! (Wikipedia.)

What if I told you there was a way to obtain the private phone number for anyone you want? And what if it was completely legal? Now how much would you pay?

Imagine it. You could call anyone you wanted. Maybe even someone like Britney Spears.

[ringtone] … hit me baby one more time … [click]

Britney: Hello?

You: Hi, Britney. OMG, OMG, OMG!!! I can’t believe I’m really talking to you!!!

Britney (irritated): Who the hell is this?

You: It’s me.

Britney (speaking to someone else): Dammit. How the hell do they get this number? I was in the middle of lighting a cigarette, too. [click]

You: Britney? Britney? Are you there? Are you there? [pause] Britney, I love you! [pause] Oh, shit. [pause] Okay, it’s my move in Warhammer 40,000. Okay, okay. Let me finish up the paint job on this Tyranid Trygon first.

If you want conversations like that and so much more, make the jump for my secret, surefire technique. The probabilities are that you’ll love it.
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Voter InformationWould you like to play a game? Oops, please hold. I’ve got to take this.

The following organizations have all banded together in solidarity in support of a new law:

  • American Bankers Association
  • ACA International
  • Air Transport Association
  • Consumer Bankers Association
  • Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Education Finance Council
  • Financial Services Roundtable
  • Housing Policy Council
  • Mortgage Bankers Association
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
  • National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, Inc.Student Loan Servicing Alliance
  • Student Loan Servicing Alliance Private Loan Committee
  • The Clearing House
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Wow. That’s a lot of agreement. Specifically they are all in support of something called H.R. 3035, the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011.” (MICA.) I know they are, because they all signed a letter saying so in regards to H.R. 3035.
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Have Phone – Will Unravel

Ah, customers! Is there anything they can’t do?

Today I had the misfortune of being the poor son of a bitch who answered a particular call.

“Hello, thank you for calling ACME Corporation. This is Tom speaking.”

Usually at this point most customers will say something cogent like, “I need …” Sometimes the more evolved will say, “I want…” Let’s be honest here. No one actually needs the shit we sell. They don’t. In fact, this is some of the most frivolous shit in the known universe. So let’s not start off our little dance of lies with “I need,” okay? That just cheapens what we are both about to go through.

“I need customer service,” she said.

Well, now we got a wee problem. You see, I’m outstanding in my field (har) all by myself right now. You got yourself a techy guy on the phone. If one was to apply reasoning powers to this situation, one might realize that the reason my pitiful carcass picked up is because no one else is remotely available. If one actually had reasoning powers, that is.

“I’ll do my best to help you if I can,” I said lamely. Anyone who overheard would have sworn Eeyore was speaking.

“Is there someone in customer service I can speak with?” Ooh, she’s good. She doesn’t mess around. Let’s see where that fighting spirit gets her, shall we?

“Unfortunately no one from customer service is available right now,” I said. And, I must say, I was rather proud of myself on this one. I say this phrase so fucking often it’s pretty much an Oscar-worthy performance each and every time now. “I can take down your name and number and pass it along if you like.”

“I already did that three hours ago,” she mouth-breathed.

Oh, so you’re too impatient to give us three freakin’ hours to call you back. Now I know who I’m dealing with.

You have to try to use your imagination here. Somehow, in a vain attempt to turn a profit so we’ll all have food to eat and roofs over our heads, we actually have more than one customer. You’re going to have to come to grips with certain realities, lady. The $100 you just might spend with us today doesn’t keep us all floating around in a giant pool of Beluga caviar. It’s almost like we need more than one customer to make this business profitable.

As much fucking fun as it would have been, sadly we were not all just sitting around twiddling our thumbs playing a game of “let’s see how long we can make this particular bitch wait.” (Hint: I would have won.)

So it has been a whopping three hours and you are still waiting. Quick, someone dial 9-1-1 for the whambulance. Perhaps you also don’t know that our boss runs us ragged and in between all of his crap, we try to get back to customers in the order they contacted us. I know everywhere else in life you go you are automagically first in line, but not here. And we’re not even done with all of customer inquiries from Monday yet, which was a very hairy day.

“Can’t you just put me on hold?” she asked. “I’ll just wait.”

“No, the person you need to speak to is unavailable.”

“Where is she and what is she doing?” Wow. I wish I could award you a prize for this one. Truly.

“She’s not physically in the building,” I lied. In reality she was at her desk enjoying her lunch break. Funny but we try to watch each other’s backs regarding our precious off-duty minutes.

“This is how you guys operate?” she asked. “You only take messages then call people back?” At last, some originality. Wow, she really was feisty!

“No, not normally, but sometimes things get a little crazy. I’m happy to take a message and pass it along.” I think this was when blood started leaking out of my ears.

“I’ve already waited three hours. If I leave another message when will I be called?”

Now this part I have down pat. This particular question gets asked a lot. A frickin’ amazing amount. “I can promise I’ll pass along the message. I can’t say when you might be called.” It turns out I don’t make promises for other human beings. Not the way I roll, yo.

There used to be a time when I was too eager to please the customer and I would say something like, “Yes, they’ll call you back TODAY.” Invariably that wouldn’t happen, because let’s face it. I can’t force another human being to do something or guarantee that something unforeseen will not happen. Then the next day I’ll have the customer back in my face screaming at me, “You said that’d call back on the same day!!!” They would act just like I had shot their dog or something. I got tired of that pretty damn quick and learned: No more making promises for other people! I will only say what I can personally do. That’s where I draw the line.

In the end this potential customer was thoroughly disgusted with me and refused to leave her name or number. She said, “Maybe I’ll try to call back later. Maybe.”

Good for you. Maybe I’ll actually give a shit. Maybe. But if I were you I would not bet my life on it.

We disconnect with you

You can go to cell!!!

Yes, I ventured forth and interacted with yet another business. And as you can imagine, it went as swimmingly as always. It is almost like these outcomes are preordained.

I’m going to tell this story in a roundabout way.

The other day I had the misfortune of calling my cell phone provider, in this case, U.S. Cellular. I was expecting it to be a quick and easy call. I wasn’t calling to complain or fight about my bill or anything like that. I just had a quick question. Little did I know I was about to enter the Twilight Zone and that in a few short minutes my head would plonk on my desk and blood would be leaking out of my ears.

Six years ago…

The company I worked at purchased a cell phone for me from U.S. Cellular. I was going to be on call for technical support to our customers. I now had a cell phone for the first time in my life. I had joined the 21st century.

Five years ago…

The company where I worked closed up shop in my town. I was given the choice to keep the phone by switching it to my own personal service contract. I opted in.

Three years ago…

Here is where it starts to get good. My wife and I visited our local U.S. Cellular store to get my wife a phone. The visit went great and we were told that the phone would be an additional $10 a month on our bill. When the first bill arrived we were charged $15. I called in to inquire about this and was told, “We don’t offer a $10 option for that.” When I explained that I had been promised $10 right to my face by their employee I was called a liar and told, “tough shit.” (I’m paraphrasing here. But as you’ll see, this is an oft-repeated theme with this company.) The bottom line, I was told, was either produce proof in writing or go eat the big one. Since I had trusted their employee I was shit out of luck. We’ve been swallowing that bitter pill (aka paying that fee) ever since.

Last week…

If you’ve read this blog much, you might know how much I hate phones. I basically leave the phone turned off 24/7 except for when my wife has no other way to get ahold of me. Then I leave it on.

Most of my peeps know that if they get my voice mail greeting they had better hang up before a message is recorded. I’ll see they called and call them back. I hate voice mails.

Last week I had a bright idea. What if I could delete my voice greeting from the phone? I tried it and it worked. Somehow, though, it still said my name (and in my voice) when my number was called. I figured out how to delete that, too. Good times!

Then, when calling a customer the other day, I heard this. “You have reached 555-555-5555. This user has not set up their voice mail box yet. Goodbye. [click!]”

ZOMG!!! I wanted that. I wanted that bad.

After getting home from a particularly gruesome day in the shithole, I decided to call U.S. Cellular and ask them if they could help me get my phone set up that way, too. Sure, I was in a bad mood, but I wasn’t spoiling for a fight with U.S. Cellular. They were not in my sights at that particular moment in time. I wasn’t expecting any problems.

I called in and eventually pressed enough of the right buttons that I found my way to a human being, and hopefully the right one. Before she picked up, though, a recorded announcement told me, “Your call may be randomly recorded for quality assurance.”

I have absolutely no beef with “monitored” because that seems reasonable. But I draw the line at being recorded. I personally don’t like it. It is not my preference. So whenever I hear something like this, I ask to opt-out. In my experience most requests like that are no problem at all. Either they are happy to do it or they lie to me and record me anyway. Either way at least I have their verbal assurance I’m not being recorded.

My request to opt-out of recording at U.S. Cellular was not going to go well.

“Hi, this is so-and-so. How can I help you?”

“Hi so-and-so. I just have a quick question for you today. But before I ask it, may I please request that this call is not recorded?”

“Oh that’s just random.”

“OK. I understand that. It told me that. Can I opt-out please?”

“You see, they only record some of the calls. Not all calls are recorded.”

Uh oh. My spidey-sense is tingling and I’m beginning to sense danger.

“Yes, you said that. Again, I am requesting that this call is not recorded. I would like your assurance of that before I ask my question, which should be a very quick and simple one.”

“I’m not sure what you are asking for. I’ve told you that it’s random.”

Houston, we now have one mother-fucking ape shit of a problem.

“Listen up,” I said. If I had known it was going to go down like this I would never have called while in a bad mood. But now I was committed and this was going to be bad. “You don’t seem to be able to process information. Your system just told me my call may be recorded. I don’t want that. Can you turn it off or not?”

“Well no one has ever asked me that before. I don’t know.”

“Gee whiz. Maybe you’d better find out, eh? How about we get a nice little supervisor on to help me? Maybe she’ll know more than you.”

“I’ll have to put you on hold.”

“Obviously. Get on it.” (Yeah, I was livid.)

I then had about five minutes to reflect on all of my glorious history with the wonderful organization known as U.S. Cellular. I remembered in vivid detail how they fucked me over and called me a liar all over $5 a month. Greedy motherfuckers. That’s $5 on top of their already horribly overpriced and mediocre service. It occurred to me that not once did they even offer to call their employee who had told me the plan was $5 less than what they charged me. They just called me a liar and told me to go suck eggs.

Finally I was graced with presence of The Supervisor.

“Hi there!” she said brightly in a syrupy sweet voice. “How is your day going today?”

“Not too good,” I assured her. “I just want to ask a simple question but I don’t wish to be recorded. Can you handle that for me?”

“Oh, I assure you, only a small percentage of calls are ever recorded.”

Oh. My. God.

“Yes, I covered all that interesting information with so-and-so. I’m opting out of being recorded. You do not have my permission to record this call. As an American citizen if I do not give my consent then any recording that is made is illegal. Can you assure me this call is opted-out from recording or not?”

We repeated the “it’s all random” cycle two more times. Finally she said, “No. We can’t do that. We don’t have that ability in this office.”

“Is there any way I can talk to U.S. Cellular and be guaranteed that I won’t be recorded?”

“No,” she admitted.

“What options does that leave me with?”

“You can visit a U.S. Cellular store or write a letter.”

“That’s really great service,” I said. “Now let me assure you of something. At the earliest possible moment when my contract is up, which isn’t too far away now, I will be terminating my service with your company and you’ll never see another penny from me as long as I live. Is that enough quality for you?”

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“Nope. [click]” Yeah, I enjoy getting the last word.

So, there you have it. A company that takes money from you monthly is not willing to talk to you on the phone unless you give them your consent to be recorded. And I never did get an answer to my quick question. This is the same company that demanded proof of a verbal conversation from me. I guess that explains their mindset. That’s just their simpleminded worldview.

“Quality assurance.” I highly doubt that. I think they want the all important “proof” they so highly prize and they want it for the sole purpose of using it against you if something should go south? Why else deny recording opt-out requests?

Is that customer service or what?

You know that as a company you must be doing something right when your customer service department interacts with a customer and it is by far the worst thing that happened to them all week.

So, what do you think?

  • Was my request that out of whack?
  • Should their customer reps know how to respond to recording opt-out requests?
  • Do you believe they really couldn’t turn off recording? (Yes, I know it is done remotely by some third-party.)
  • Have you ever made a similar request and if so, how did it go?

I searched the U.S. Cellular web site and couldn’t find a mission statement. Do they have one? Seems like an odd thing to forget.

U.S. Cellular slogans include:

  • We connect with you
  • Believe in something better
  • Wireless where you matter most

U.S. Cellular has made The List and with extreme prejudice. (Yes, that means they can eat my ass.)

Please enjoy the musical selection that our chef has paired with this article.

Hoarding recordings

The House Recording Studio control room overseeing footage of the House Chamber. Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.

Today’s quickie questions of the day:

Have you ever called in for customer service and been subjected to the automated system and not been told “please listen carefully – our menu has recently changed?” Due to overuse that phrase has absolutely no meaning.

More importantly, have you ever been told that your call may be “monitored or recorded” for the biggest bullshit reason of all time, “quality assurance?”

Here’s what I really want to know. Have you ever thought to say, “I prefer not to be recorded?”

Have you ever attempted this? And if so, how did it go?

First of all, “quality assurance?” What a line of bull. They are not going to invest in a recording system and everything that entails because they care about the quality of “service” they are providing to you. The reason is simple: To cover their ass and provide documentation that could be used against you further down the road if any sort of dispute should ever come up.

I have an idea. How about I record everything on my end, too. “Hey, Julio. That’s for taking the time to talk to me today about my account. Just an FYI, bro. This call may be monitored and/or recorded for quality assurance. Since you’re already doing that to me I’m sure your company will have no problem with that, right?”

So, have you ever tried to opt-out of being recorded? I have. The poor sap on the other end of the phone could not have been more confused or befuddled. His scripts obviously didn’t cover that sort of unforseen scenario. A customer not wanting to be recorded? Horrors!

If you’ve ever attempted to not be recorded, please reply and let me know how it went. I’d really, really like to know. This could be interesting. Thanks!