As we reach a fever pitch with less than three weeks until the election, everyone is frustrated. Even political junkies like me have had enough. The simple act of having breakfast with old friends even carries risk these days. You can lose a friendship over a discussion of who won a debate, when, in fact, not much of substance was said by anyone.
We are tired, angry, and so ready for this election to be over. Just when you think you have reached your limit, something else comes along and proves that, yes, even you can cross that exasperation red line that no one wants to breech.
Let me first say, that I cannot ever remember writing about another company in a negative way. To begin with, I have been on the receiving end of unfounded charges in the media. Second, I own a newspaper that depends on revenue from the very companies with whom we occasionally get irritated.
It has been almost two years since we sold our restaurant business. While Ponder Enterprises survives in a smaller fashion, the offices that we built up over the past couple of decades are no longer needed. Specifically, we no longer need seven phone lines coming into a building that is usually empty.
Two weeks ago, I arranged to have six of the seven phone lines removed which will result in a huge savings on our monthly bills. I was informed that someone from our company would have to physically be on site during the visit by the technician. I was further informed that the window during which the technician would visit was all day. That is right. I was expected to be there from 8 a.m. in the morning until 6 p.m. in the evening.
This was further complicated by the fact that I now live two and a half hours from Donalsonville. Even worse, I live in the Central Time Zone. That meant I would need to arrive in Donalsonville the night before to make sure I would be present in the unlikely event the technician showed up early.
I received a confirmation email, drove down the night before, and got up early enough to be at the office by eight o’clock. It was mid-afternoon when I discovered the confirmation email that was sent to me changed the appointment to another day. No call. No question asking if I received the email. The result was a day wasted, a night away from home and five hours on the road.
Nevertheless, I realized that I did bear part of the responsibility because I did not read all the way down to the third paragraph to discover the change. The meeting was rescheduled for Monday, October 12, 2020.
I once again drove down the night before so I could be present for the technician’s visit. At mid-morning I emailed my contact but received no response. At mid-afternoon, I called and left a voicemail. A bit later, I sent a more strongly worded email to everyone I knew in the company. By then, I had been sitting in an empty office for over eight hours.
The only bright spot in this fiasco is the customer service person in charge of “small business retention”. No complaints with her, but she is not the person calling the shots. After an hour, she had to regretfully inform me that the technician would not be coming yet again.
The phone company said they had a lot of calls come in and were just swamped. They had planned to call me but got overwhelmed. My contact said she had received so many emails she had never seen my earlier email query.
To summarize, I have now driven 600 miles for two visits that were not honored. I spent two nights away from home. I have spent a total of 14 hours in an office with no furniture, no cable, and nothing much else to help me pass the time.
The technician cannot come tomorrow while I am already in town because they have more important things to do. We have rescheduled for a later date that will require a third trip. My request to at least narrow the window to a maximum of four hours is under consideration. I will not hold my breath.
If my own company had this same approach to customer service, I would have gone bankrupt. Then again, this phone company did go bankrupt.
I take no pride in discussing the problems of another company. On the other hand, what will they do? Cut my phones off? That is exactly what I am trying to get them to do.
Customer service in a pandemic. It can more frustrating than politics.
Dan Ponder can be reached at email@example.com