We Interrupt This Blog . . .

Tue 10/04/05 at 2:18 pm

Some of you may remember a great movie that came out nearly 30 years ago called Network starring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Peter Finch, and others. Peter Finch portrays an aging news anchor who, fed up with the current state of affairs, goes berserk during a broadcast. He encourages his television audience to get up off their seats, go to their windows, open them up, and begin yelling, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” The camera shifts to the network muckety-mucks who are watching the broadcast. Once of them goes over and opens a window through which can be heard the sounds of voices chanting, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Some years later I met Ray whose motto was “I will never be a victim.” He never accepted less than was his due in any situation. He did it nicely, rationally, and firmly. I have tried to live by his example. As a result, I have endeavored to rectify, and have often succeeded in rectifying, many unfair situations for myself, and just as often, others — though there was that one time that the IRS agent hung up on me (and I was being really nice). Threatening class action lawsuits has been particularly effective — especially since I knew of what I spoke having defended a couple of them. I’m proud to say I have been an example to my friends and family in this regard. Call center folks, on the other hand, think I have entirely too much time on my hands. I can almost hear them muttering under their breath, “Get a life.”

This was going to be a post much different from the one you are actually reading. The last two weeks have been particularly frustrating, and so I started an entry wherein I planned to tell you in great detail about the mix up with my Dell order, the lack of problem-solving skills on the part of the cable guy (“I don’t know what to tell you ma’am. It should work; I hooked up the box.”), the notice from a collection agency because a healthcare provider had failed to update information I had dutifully provided to them, and the software program I could not install no matter what I tried (including, but not limited to, reading the “Installation Instructions and” the “read me” file, and checking (and installing) the “patch” program provided on the website. By and large I got every thing worked out. Even so, I don’t feel like talking or writing about incompetence anymore, even when, in retrospect some of the stories are amusing in a twisted sort of way.

The latest Dell fiasco has put me over the edge. I went down fighting, at least. In the last couple weeks, I have made fourteen “from scratch” phone calls – that means cycling through fourteen interminable voice menus – simply dialing “0” out of the gate no longer works, it just makes the main menu start over again. Two calls ended in hang ups on the part of the sales representatives, two ended in disconnects, and one ended in an especially annoying busy signal. I spoke to seven sales representatives, one sales specialist, three entry level customer care representatives, an extension supervisor, a floor supervisor (impersonating a manager after being told I expected to be speaking to a manager), a customer care supervisor, and, finally, a manager. I left two voice mails, both of which remain unreturned. No one I talked to listened to what I had to say. I finally asked the last couple of folks to repeat back to me what I had just told them until they finally got it right. In the end, the last guy (the manager) quit even pretending he wanted to help resolve the issue, and I just quit asking for help. Instead, for the first time ever, I’m packing up and returning a perfectly wonderful, reasonably priced, editor’s choice technological device along with many cool accessories. I’ll sell my stock. I’ve prepared, and mailed, a six-page single-spaced letter to the Executive Support Team (an entity so secret even Dell supervisors and managers don’t have a telephone number for it) explaining why I am severing ties with a company from which I have personally purchased, among other things, 3 pretty much state-of-the-art desktops and which I have recommended to friends and family over the years.

I am so disgusted by this latest episode, that I’m not only done with Dell, I’m done with them all. I’ll pay the stealth handling charge that gets added at the end of an online order for which I have been promised “free shipping.” I’ll pay the “office co-pay” my health care insurer charges for a lab test (and try not to think/care about the folks who don’t realize they don’t owe one and for whom fifteen bucks matters). I’ll meekly accept the pronouncement, “Well whoever you spoke to was mistaken,” when, in anticipation of a problem I’ve actually called customer service before making a trip to the brick and board store. I bet none of you ever thought you’d hear/read me say the bastards got me down. But they did. I’m still mad as hell; I just don’t have the time or energy to verbally strong arm people into keeping their companies’ promises anymore.

Postscript

So, I’m just putting the finishing touches on this entry when I hear the phone ring. As is often the case these days, I can’t find the phone in time to answer it before voicemail kicks in. I wait a bit, and check caller id. One of my guys, who, like me, has severe COPD had called. In my memory, he’s never left a message before, but this time I have a voice mail. Of course, I immediately imagined something bad had happened. On the contrary, he told me I didn’t need to call him back, but he just wanted to let me know that because of my encouragement, he met with his health care provider who, in turn had agreed to contact his recalcitrant insurer. He had just received word the insurer would pay for a new drug that up to now been he’d been paying for out of his own pocket because it hadn’t made the approved list or whatever. He’ll save $132 a month. In his words, he had “won that battle,” and thought I’d like to know.

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