Tag Archives: customer service

Of Apples and Pampers

I don't have Photoshop on my new computer. Otherwise this image would probably have been funny as hell.

File this post under “I’m Not Fucking Kidding” and “Even My Twisted Brain Couldn’t Have Thought of This.”

Perhaps I need a new category called “I Shit You Not.”

Hello my little wannabe negativists. Today I regale you with a tale that illustrates, without question, why I am the all-time Guru of Negativity. If you have the mental wherewithal, step inside my head and see what it’s like to be in my shoes.

The story begins last Friday…

Friday after work I picked up my iMac from the local authorized Apple factory repair shop. Lo and behold, the thing was finally fixed, and only after 15 business days. Three full weeks.


There was a new problem. The fan now ran at full speed and the covenant of a super-quiet computer had been broken. The thing sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

I would have asked, “Why me?” but I don’t much care for asking questions where I already know the answer.

So Monday morning I schlepped the thing back into the shop.

That’s when this conversation took place:

Me: This thing has already been here 15 business days. Will you escalate this for a fast turn around time?

Employee #1: This sort of thing shouldn’t take long.

Employee #2: I can escalate you to some Pampers.

Me: Eh? Er, what???

Employee #2: Some poopy Pampers I just found in the parking lot. Seriously, can you believe people??

You’re preaching to the fucking choir, lady. But, more importantly…


These are the people that Apple hires to provide my warranty repair?

I am not making this up!!! That was the conversation. Verbatim. No embellishment. No artistic license. No lie.

At times, like when shit like this happens to me, I seriously doubt that I’m alive. I figure this reality must be some kind of mind fuck and I’m already dead and gone and shipped to Hell. And part of that Hell is that I don’t get to know it. Makes it so much more delicious and sublime, eh?

So yeah, neither employee bothered to actually answer my question. At this point, I had fucking had it. I decided to be more proactive about my repair.

I called them Monday at 1pm. “Is this Tom?” they asked. They were beginning to recognize the sound of my voice. Good!

“It might be ready today,” I was told. Yeah, I’ve heard that happy crappy before. Lies.

I waited all afternoon for the call that never came.

Then I did something brilliant. I got off work and drove directly to the shop. I walked in and they said, “Here ya go! All fixed.”

Fuck. Were you ever going to let me know that? Assholes. Thanks for the call.

“The piece of tape must have come loose. I re-taped it.”

That’s it? That’s an all-repair for you motherfuckers? And what’s this about a “piece of tape?” The fate of my iMac hangs in the balance over a piece of fucking tape? Jesus Christ!!!

Conclusion: The thing seems fixed. But I know I can’t trust my own senses. We’ll see. And that shop was one of the worst things to ever happen to me in my whole life. The hate in me in swelling.

This is the sort of shit that happens to me. Hopefully you can now begin to see how I reached Guru status.

This post written with a Mac.

That’s sick, man

The message is clear. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) want you to “Stay Home!” when you’re not feeling well. They want you to call in sick.

Too bad, so sad!!!

I don’t want to overstate this, but I am literally a modern day super hero. I am Vector Man. My special powers activate the moment I start feeling ill.

vector: an organism (as an insect) that transmits a pathogen

I know, calling me an insect is quite the over-compliment but I’ll take what I can get.

It’s been at least six years since I last called in sick. And probably a lot longer than that. Unfortunately that’s just about as far as my memory works. I do know this: I’ve been at my current job about 4 months and haven’t called in once. And my previous job was 5-1/2 years and I never called in sick, either. I’ve got quite the streak going.

The problem? Staying home to protect the health of other people costs me money. I haven’t had sick pay since 2001. I also haven’t had health insurance since then, either.

The CDC seems to have the opinion that if people stayed home when they got sick that would be beneficial to society as a whole. Or some such shit like that. Whatever. I don’t live in that world.

Random Factoid

Interestingly, if a cell is infected with two different flu viruses (such as H1N1 and H2N2) then the virus genetic material can be rearranged in the cell so that the released viruses include mixes like H1N2 and H2N1 surface molecules.

Source: Flu Terminology 101

This is what I call the double-whammy reverse incentive. I can’t afford to call in sick and I can’t afford to see a doctor. So I just work through it. Germ powers activate!

Saturday, out of the blue, my snotbubbles kicked on. Think of my snotbubbles as similar to Spider Man’s “spidey sense.” So I knew that Vector Man’s super powers were about to power up. That night a cold and/or flu thing came down on me like a ton of bricks. That was one hellacious night and when I woke up my body was feeling like it had tumbled all the way down Mount Everest. Every part of me was sore!

Sunday night was more of the same. When I woke up I was dead man walking. My wife told me to stay home from work. “Ha!” I scoffed in her face. “Vector Man has never failed to perform when needed.” So I dragged my sorry ass in to work and, for once, was successful at keeping my damn trap shut. (Which is, by the way, my #1 goal every time I go to work.) It was a busy weekend and I had a lot of ecommerce orders to ship. I worked half a day, got all my orders out, then asked to go home where I tried and failed to take a nap.

The thing is, and I learned this recently when on jury duty, when I’m not in the office no one does my job! Literally. When I came back to work every single order that had come in for three days was sitting there waiting for me. That really cracks me up! Think the customer is important? Think again!

It works like this: When the boss is there and you are there, the boss will ride your ass hard to make sure those orders go out. It doesn’t matter if they came in at 3pm. They will be going out today. Period. Even if you have to make a special trip to the goddamned post office. But, if the boss is there and you are not, suddenly that shit flies right out the window. Suddenly it’s perfectly fine and dandy for those orders to sit. For days. The message is loud and clear: Fuck the customer if anyone other than Vector Man has to get off their ass and do some actual work.

So yeah, today I will be hauling my ass into work one more time. Even though last night more than lived up to all of my wildest expectations. I’ll be working because no matter how sick I get, Vector Man has a responsibility to his fellow man.

Vector Man action figure includes Snotbubble (TM) fluid kit, Triple-Sneeze action (TM), Projectile Vomit Pack (TM) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome plug-in with motorized performance and temperature-sensitive paint. Odor Paks sold separately.

Thank God that Toy Biz v. United States determined that action figures are “toys” and not “dolls.” It wouldn’t be quite as macho to be a doll.

For more reading see Can’t call in sick scenarios.

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.

When customers foam

Yet another Friday bonus post.

Let’s play this post like a round of Jeopardy, shall we? Remember, all answers must be phrased in the form of a question.

Category: Potent Foamables

$500 Clue: “Five”


Alex: Tom?

Tom: The number of minutes customers are willing to wait for a response after sending an email before they foam at the mouth?

Alex: Correct! You are today’s winner!

This is how it works. You arrive at work and go through your emails. You have some from bosses, some from co-workers and some from customers. I have a routine for handling them which mainly involves getting the low-hanging fruit (quickies) out of my inbox as fast as possible. If a customer has a quick question, I might just pound my keyboard like a monkey and get them a response at that instant and be done with it. If it is more involved, however, I jot them down on a list so I can research, do the legwork, and so forth before calling them back.

Organization is good.

Of course, this all goes out the window as soon as the phones roll over because ALL of them simply pick up the phone, dial our number, then pound the redial button repeatedly until they get a human. Don’t forget to wear your handy yellow containment suit to avoid the foam spittle.

Today at 9:05am we had been open for a grand total of five minutes. The customer service primary was already on the phone. I was already neck deep in the shit on the floor with an obliviot customer (who was actually a pretty decent guy). Meanwhile all of the phone lines were ringing off the hook like it was the invasion of motherfucking Normandy beach. Apparently there were a lot of people who needed apologies. (We’re pretty much in the professional apologizing business. They’re all calling to complain about things we screwed up because we suck.)

“Eek. Hello?”

“This is so-and-so! I’m calling about order XYZ! I ordered two widgets and only received one.”

“Yes, I am aware of that. I did receive and read your email. Unfortunately you’re not the only customer in the universe and amazingly I haven’t had a chance to work on your problem yet. Sadly no miraculous knowledge has yet spontaneously jumped via telepathy into my brain. It’s beginning to look more and more like I’ll actually have to be given some time to work the problem before I’ll learn anything new. And phone calls like yours only delay that process, which, in turn, creates a snowball effect and consumes 110% of the time I have in my day. Take the square root of -1 and multiply that by 42. I’ll probably be able to call you back in that many minutes. But please know that I am very, very sorry about this problem.

Hmm. Looks like another customer problem just got pushed back to Monday. Gee, I hope you weren’t in a hurry. Too bad, so sad! Loser, loser, whatever!!!

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.

When customers give advice

When, what to my fucking ears should I hear,
Eight customer voice mails, all sounding so queer!

There is one thing that customers seemingly love above all else and that is making their opinions known. I theorize that this is because they think it is the one and only time in their lives when someone absolutely has to listen to them. They may be miserably ignored everywhere else they go, but when you are there and paid to be listening to them, and hoping against all hope to make a little profit from them, they expect, nay demand that you listen to their every word.

Dream on, sucka!

And, by the way, may I point out how miserable it must be to have to go to the store to find someone to talk to? Like the people in front of my in the checkout lane at the grocery store? Serious, get a life! Mwuahaha!

True, savvy companies know that some customer input can be an invaluable gift that might be useful on the path to improving the operation. Most of it, however, is simply inane blather and should be dumped in the local sanitary sewer system. 🙂

Speaking of which, the eight voice mails. A customer was so offended that we were closed on Saturday she left no less than eight voice mails on our voice mail system this morning. She did not give her name or a number where she could be reached. Clearly she just wanted to impart her genius and criticize us for being idiots.

I like imaging how angry she must have been. Eight voice mails. Wow. That is no small feat. In fact, I sort of marvel in the absolutely glory and sheer audacity of it.

Eight voice mails! All saying, “you should be open on Saturdays!”

I feel her anger coursing in my veins, filling my body with renewed vigor and a feeling of negativity about the future. Simply delicious! Sublime!


I hate to spoil the fun, but apparently one little thought escaped the gravitational powers of her brain: We had previously considered that. D’oh. In fact, we used to have an employee come in on Saturdays. It turned out that business was slow and did not even justify the paltry wage they pay in this shithole. If it was economically possible anywhere, it would have been here.

Epic fail, lady. Turns out that your anger is wonderful, but your brain comes up woefully short. Fail, fail, and fail.

Customers will often say things like, “You don’t sell the Acme Bootstrap Widget with Slime Mode? I can’t believe that! You’d make a fucking killing!” Uh, yeah. Once again we happen to be way ahead of you. It is a very rare day indeed when we didn’t already think about it. You think it is such a great idea? Go open your own damn store!

Customers have been trained for decades that they are “always right.” What a crock of shit. I’d like to turn this right on its head and offer advice to our customers, who our wise and wondrous leader refers to as “mother fuckers.” I hope they’ll take this little bit o’ advice:

Stay the hell away from me!!!

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!