Life in Customer Service Hell

Well, that was forty-five minutes of my life wasted.

I was online signing up for a retirement plan with a financial behemoth which shall remained unnamed. They have $219 billion in assets but the right and left hands don’t communicate and they apparently don’t have enough money to adequately staff their customer service department.

My first problem – (actually, it was Peg’s problem because her recent “retirement” allows her more time to do these things and I don’t have the patience for this shit) – was trying to set up the account. The brochure said I needed my Social Security number, date of birth and my temporary PIN: my height, weight and shoe size (not really). After several failed attempts, Peg called customer service…several times. The average wait was 20 minutes and when she’d run out of patience she’d hang up and try later. When she finally connected, the rep said, “Oh, yeah, that was the old way. We don’t do that anymore. We send you a PIN in the mail.”

“We haven’t received a PIN yet.”

“We send it within 30 days of enrollment.”

“It’s been almost 30 days.”

“Well, you have to wait 30 days and then, if you haven’t received it, please call us back.  Is there anything else we can help you with today?”

How about just giving me the damn PIN?

Two weeks later … three weeks later … no PIN.

So she called again, this time while I was home.

“We need your husband’s Social Security number, confirmation of his address and his date of birth.”

She gave him the information but the rep said, “No, he needs to tell us.”

“Honey, get on the phone so you can give this idiot the same information I just gave him.”

I did but wondered how he knew I was really me and not some random guy pulled off the street, or Peg just using a deep voice.

“I’ll get back to you in a day.”  Yeah, right. Another week wasted and still no PIN.

Then a different customer service rep called when I was busy and left a voice mail message. I called back. The phone didn’t ring; it just went to some cheesy, overly cheery music and the usual robot instructions.

“To continue in English, press 1.”

Done. I don’t have time to go through your menu.

“Please enter your nine-digit Social Security number.”

OK.

“Please enter your PIN.”

I don’t have a PIN, you idiots! That’s why I’m calling.

I hung up and called back.

“If you’d listened to the rest of the menu in the first place, you wouldn’t be stuck in this queue again, now would you? So, to continue in English, press 1. Para continuar en español, presione el número dos.  To speak to a real person, press 0 and cross your fingers.”

I did and the music changed to a two-chord electric guitar riff endlessly repeating.

“All of our agents are serving other customers. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received.”

I put the call on speakerphone and waited… and waited…and waited. For the next forty-five soul-sucking minutes the queue cycled through these messages, slightly edited for accuracy.

“All of our agents are serving other customers. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received.”

Music.

“Did you know you could access your account balance and make transactions on our website? Go to www.goodluckwiththatshit.com for more information – like it will do you any good. In the meantime, listen to this irritating two-chord riff played in an endless loop until your ears bleed.”

Music

“All of our agents are serving other customers. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received. You can continue to wait or press 1 to be transferred to voicemail where you can leave a message that will go into an infinite void never to be answered. We’ll laugh our asses off because you’re so gullible.”

Music. Please, dear God, make it stop!

“All our agents are serving other customers. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered if we feel like it, which we don’t. We don’t have enough staff. John is boning Marsha in the broom closet and the rest of the staff is playing Solitaire.”

Music. I’m going to scream if I have to keep listening to this!

“All of our agents are “servicing” other customers – you get my drift – and you’re still on the line? Are you stupid or just desperate?”

Music. My ears are now bleeding.

When I finally got to talk to a real person she said, “Oh, your temporary PIN is blah blah blah.” Three quarters of an hour for a 15-second conversation.

Three days later I got a letter from them with a “new” temporary PIN: the original “temporary PIN” provided in the initial instructions.

I’m glad we cleared that up.

4 thoughts on “Life in Customer Service Hell

  1. Peter Scott Cameron

    Sometimes on these lines, I come to believe, truly, that I have died and gone to hell. Thanks for describing so well.
    PSC

    Reply

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