Customer Service: A Lost Art

Customer service from various places has been terrible lately.  Maybe it’s the economy.  Anyway, the representatives are just ruthless.  Here’s a random sampling of experiences.

DirecTV.  My DVR wasn’t working right so they said they could send a technician out.  They didn’t tell me until after they had fixed it that it would cost $49.99.  Also, the technician charged me $15 for an extra 1-foot cable, which is all he did, and he wouldn’t take a credit card, so I had to give him a $20 bill, and he didn’t have change so he wanted to just leave but I made him go and get change.  Then I called DirecTV and got transferred to about five different people and I told them they should have told me beforehand that there would be a charge.  Finally, after talking to about six people the first five of whom disagreed with me, they agreed that they should have informed me of the charge beforehand.  But what happens to people who aren’t persistent and don’t stay on the phone for a half hour?  In the past I’ve also had to repeat the same things over and over to them as if they never take notes on calls.  Also, when I first started, their reps were in the habit of promising things just to sign you up and then a different rep would deny that this ever happened.  Grade:  F

Comcast.  They insisted I had not returned a cable box and that I owed $50.  After many, many hours on the phone with them, they finally agreed that it was a mistake.  But after that, I still got bills for it.  Plus, even though the charge was eventually reversed, my phone bill was an extra $50 because of all the time I spent on the phone with them.   One other note – I’ve talked with two different people who don’t have TV set up because they had so many problems with Comcast.  Grade:  F

Carbonite.  I had a specific issue for which I wanted specific help, but after emailing them about 15 times and saying, “please don’t just cut and paste instructions for me,” they continued to just cut and paste standard instructions for me.  Also, at one point they asked me to send them specific files.  I did and they never responded.  Then they said they’d call me back and they never did.  Finally I asked again and they did call back to resolve it.  Grade:  D

Linksys.  They reset the settings on my router for a one-time charge and insisted that I wouldn’t need anything else for two years.  It didn’t help and the wireless access was actually slower so I asked if I could get a refund or have it credited toward a new router or a 6-month plan but they said no.  They said they’d call me back but never did.  I emailed them but they didn’t respond.  Usually they are pretty good on chat, though.  Grade:  D

Verizon.  When I was first getting my internet access set up, I remember the representative being unbelievably verbose and speaking in long, drawn out ways, almost as if she was reading a telemarketing script instead of just being concise and getting to the point.  A couple of other times they’ve been ok.  Grade:  C

Apple.  Generally, they’ve been pretty helpful.  Grade:  B

Best Buy Geek Squad.  I had a lot of problems with my PC and they weren’t helpful to say the least.  One of many examples:  I brought my laptop in because the touchpad, the left click button, whatever you call it, was always slightly depressed so that wherever the cursor, or the little hand, whatever you call it, was pointing on the web, it would occasionally just click on it without me touching it.  Example.  I’m writing an email and it’s halfway done.  The cursor is pointing over the “send” button but I’m not touching the computer at all.  The computer sends the email.  Best Buy insisted that there was nothing wrong with it because they supposedly couldn’t duplicate the problem even though this clicking when I wasn’t touching the pc happened about five times an hour every day for half a year.  You can see the left button is physically lower down by about a millimeter than it should be.  Grade:  F

Sirius Satellite Radio.  Keeping in mind that this would be easier than internet access or computers, generally, they’ve been good. Grade:  B

Southwest. I typed in my voucher code when I made a flight and it didn’t work.  I hope this isn’t a way for them to save money. But when I callled, they fixed the problem.  I guess there isn’t too much that can go wrong with airlines compared with technical companies, but if I list the bad ones I should also list the good ones.  Grade:  B

A Seller Tool.  They usually say, “just follow the instructions on the website.”  They aim to save time this way but they actually increase time spent because people have to keep calling back.  If they would just walk people through it a little bit, it would save time for everyone.  Grade:  D

A.C. Moore in Rockville, MD. This may not fit here, but I wanted to include it because I had a good experience there.  I bought 8 frames – of course they didn’t come with the brackets on the back.  I had to buy those separately, and they had those tiny nails that are impossible to use.  The guy at the counter agreed to do it right then and there for free.  I would have expected to have to wait and/or pay.  Grade:  A

Post Office, Bethesda, MD. I love the post office in Bethesda on Wisconsin Avenue.  It’s open 24 hours and they have one of those self-serve machines that you can use to send packages and other mail.  There is also one at the branch on Arlington Road but they close early.  The staff at both places are great.  Grade:  A

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