Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rio's Most Excellent Telephone Adventure

Here's a little tale about my latest telephone adventure.


(As background: I'm not too fond of telephones anyway. Idle chitchat on one annoys me. This is probably because I am what is politely referred to as "hearing impaired." So impaired in fact that my state department for such things is now sending me a special telephone system that will enable me to communicate with the rest of the species as if I were fully human myself.)


So— I have a Tracfone instead of a "real cellphone" because I don't have cellphone reception where I live, nor for 30-or-so miles in any direction. Doesn't pay to have a phone that carries a monthly contract under those circumstances so I bought a Tracfone for those times when I travel or even just when I go to town.


I've had several problems with it, such as lately when it "broke into" an Alltel network and they apparently disabled the phone. Half an hour on the phone to Bombay (!) cured that. But lately there was more.


My service for the phone was due to run out on Monday unless I upped the time on it and on Saturday and Sunday we had a storm that more or less snowed me in and made it impossible to get to town. I would not only lose my service but the 700 minutes already on the phone. (Told you I don't use it much.)What to do?


I discovered that I could add minutes on the internet! So I did. But there was a note on the add-minutes page saying that I was now to turn on my phone and leave it on for 24 hours so the time could be added. To be sure I didn't lose my service I emailed the "Support" desk and told of my situation, emphasizing that I didn't have reception at the present time.


Within three or four hours I got a response back.


"Dear Mr. Arriba: Thank you for your interest in Tracfone. We are happy to resolve your problem. Please turn on your cellphone...etc..."


I wrote back and explained that they had evidently missed the part about my having no reception and that I only wanted to be sure that I had my service and my new minutes when I did finally make it to a place that had reception. They sent back a response in a few hours.


"Dear Mr. Arriba: Thank you for your interest in Tracfone. We are happy to resolve your problem. Please turn on your cellphone...etc..."


This time I was a little more direct, questioning why they had a "Customer Support" function if they didn't bother to read their customers' emails. They got right back to me.


"Dear Mr. Arriba: Thank you for your interest in Tracfone. We are happy to resolve your problem. Please turn on your cellphone...etc..."


OK. Gloves off now. I responded with some vigor, including comments about their language skills and how I was very disappointed in the whole line of Tracfone BS. I tactfully avoided commentary about their dubious ancestry, but closed by saying I didn't want anymore pointless chats with brick walls and all I wanted was to have my phone work when I got to town and to have on it all the minutes I had paid for. No response this time. All this was Sunday and yesterday.


This morning I got a phone call. Obviously international and poor connection to boot. Heavy accent. I explained that I was hearing impaired and the nice gentleman would have to speak more distinctly.


Hedidnotseemtogettheidearightawaybuteventuallywewereabletomakesomeprogress.


He did, however, ask me several times about whether I was able to get reception where I was. I patiently (and politely!) explained to the Nice Man with an Accent that there were indeed places in the world that did not receive the many benefits of cellphone coverage. He changed the subject.


At any rate, he was very apologetic blahblahblah but was unable to tell me why the "customer service reps" were not able to read plain, simple English sentences.


So after some nimble coding by my new friend I supposedly have a fully operative Tracfone with 840 minutes on it just quivering in electronic anticipation of me turning it on in a reception area and jabbering my fool head off.


We'll see.


I love our new international business climate. I love the New Responsiveness of corporations that the New Improved Communication Tools have made possible.


I love the Brave New World!


Thus endeth my saga, thus endeth my tale.



5 comments:

Doctor TracFone said...

If your TracFone issues haven't been resolved, please see http://bit.ly/dzWCN. And please let me know what happens.

Rio Arriba said...

Thank you, Doc, for this information. I've filed it away for the future and I am sure it will come in handy. Great of you to share it.

Doctor TracFone said...

Hope you never need it, but if you do, there it is!

BobG said...

"At any rate, he was very apologetic blahblahblah but was unable to tell me why the "customer service reps" were not able to read plain, simple English sentences."

I used to do email tech support for a company a few years ago until we were replaced by outsourcing from the Philippines. I remember having to work with them during the switchover. The way they worked the support was that they would only look for a few key words in the customer request, and then copy and paste pre-written responses. Most of them couldn't read English very well, and none of them had any technical knowledge. I used to see answers mailed out that had nothing whatsoever to do with the customer's problem, which led to a lot of frustrated people.

The Hermit said...

I have often thought I would be better off to just give up my satellite TV and radio after sessions with their Pakistani tech support or customer service. Direct TV , in particular, uses the "big lie" technique to get you off the phone. They tell you they have resolved your problem and then when you hang up they actually haven't done a thing. But I need the capabilities this equipment gives me so I just suffer through it. It is, indeed, a brave new world.