By Shane Cashion
I had an unusually busy work schedule last week. I was at the office by six each morning and didn’t get home until nine in the evening, except Thursday. There were two basketball games that I wanted to watch that night, and I promised my wife I’d grill a big dinner for the family. After stuffing my face, I poured myself a beer in my favorite frozen mug and plopped onto the couch for an evening of basketball. No more than five minutes into the first game, my television froze. It continued to do so intermittently for the next twenty minutes. With each black screen, my blood pressure rose.
By halftime, I was maniacal, and banished to the basement. Apparently my wife was afraid the neighbors might call the police to investigate the screaming coming from our living room. "All I do is work. That’s it. The one bleeeeeeeeping moment I get to sit down and watch a game the bleeeeeeping TV goes out. I’m so bleeping sick of U-verse. I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do; I’m gonna call those bleeeeeeeeeping bleepers right bleeeeeeeeeping now." Because the kids were playing at the neighbor’s house, I could really let it fly.
As I was navigating my way through U-verse’s automated phone system, which does nothing more than ask you how you want to pay your bill a dozen different ways; I finally got an actual person. By this time, the first game was already over, and I was on my way to a full meltdown.
"This is Mark. How may I provide you with excellent service today."
He didn’t sound like a "Mark" to me. "Mark where in the world are you?" I asked.
"I’m on the phone."
"I know that. What city are you in?"
"I’m in the Philippines."
"Oh my God!"
"May I have your name please?"
"Great. May I have your address please?"
"Great. May I have your phone number please?"
"So I can call you back in case we get disconnected."
"I’ve done this before. You won’t call me back."
"I’ve never talked to you before."
"I mean you as in U-verse."
"Okay. May I have your account number?"
"I don’t have it."
"I need your account number to look up your account."
"Well what was all the other stuff for?"
"I needed that too."
My wife keeps track of our bills so I screamed to her: "WHERE’S OUR U-VERSE BILL?!!!!!"
"I DON’T KNOW, SHANE! LOOK IN THE KITCHEN!"
"I’m back. I have to go find the bill in the kitchen. Please hold on and don’t hang up on me."
"I have your number in case we get disconnected."
"Okay. The account number is XXXXX."
"Great. And what is your pass code?"
"I need your pass code."
"I don’t have any idea what my pass code is. You already have my name, phone number, address, and account number. What bleeeeeeping more do you need from me? A STOOL SAMPLE!?"
"Unfortunately because your name isn’t on the account I can’t help you without a pass code."
"It’s my wife’s name that’s on the account."
"Right. It’s the same pass code for both of you."
Again I had to scream upstairs to my wife: "DO YOU HAVE OUR BLEEEEEEEPING PASS CODE FOR THESE BLEEEEEEEPING BLEEPS?"
"STOP YELLING!!!!! It’s XXXXX."
"Okay, I’ve got it. It’s XXXXX."
"That’s great! Now please tell me how I may provide you with excellent service today."
"It’s too late. Your service is awful!"
"I haven’t helped you yet."
"No! Not you! I don’t mean you every time I say you; I mean you as in your stupid company."
"How can I provide you with excellent service?"
"Well. You can start by talking normal and not off a script. After that you can help me figure out how to get my TV to work again. You people are relentless in collecting money, but not very adept at keeping the TV running. What I want is my bill to be reduced for the time my service was down and I want my TV to work. Now is that something you can do or do I need to talk to a supervisor?"
"You want to speak with a supervisor? Let me see if one is available to assist you."
Twenty minutes later the same guy returned to the line to tell me that the supervisors were delayed due to unusually high call volume. What’s strange is I almost detected a hint of pleasure in his voice. Throughout our call I’d felt like someone else was listening in, and that together they were laughing at me. At one point, after a long tantrum that I worry will one day appear on YouTube, as these conversations are recorded "for quality control," I said, "You couldn’t care less about my stupid service, could you? You’re in the Philippines. Why would you care?" Again it sounded like he was covering the phone to mask his laughter. Exhausted from it all, I finally just hung up.
No more than one minute after my last game ended, the television screen came to life and worked perfectly the rest of the night. Unable to shake my frustration, I logged onto my computer to see if anyone else hated U-verse. I of course found lots of people who hate U-verse and were more than willing to visit the Internet to vent. As with any large company that boasts millions of customers, some are happy; some are ready to riot. What really caught my interest was a class action firm seeking class representatives to initiate a class action lawsuit against U-verse for all sorts of alleged misrepresentations. I was so angry at having missed my games, I left them a voicemail at just after midnight volunteering to serve as a class rep. I’d be more than happy to devote a thousand hours of my time in hopes of one day receiving a check for $14.38 that I could frame above my mantel. That’s how angry they’d made me, although I must have sounded insane because no one has called to take me up on my offer.
The next morning, I had 52 emails from Uverse waiting for me. They wanted to know if I’d take a customer satisfaction survey. I kid you not, 52. I couldn’t help but laugh. In my mind’s eye I could picture Alejandro on a swivel chair in his call station, probably with a buddy, acting on a dare, laughing hysterically every time he hit the send button.
"Was he really that pissed?"
"Oh you should have heard this guy. He couldn’t watch his basketball games!!! Hahahahhaa."
"That’s hilarious. What did you do while he was screaming?"
"I just stuck to the script. They hate that!!!! Then I pretended I was looking for a supervisor. It was the best!!!!!"
"How long did you keep him on the line?"
"At least 45 minutes!!!!"
"That’s so great. Email him another satisfaction survey. Just one more."
"Okay. One more. Sometimes I really do love this job!!!!!"
For a brief moment, I thought about filling out all 52 surveys. As I was perusing the one attached to the original email, pretending as though I hadn’t received the others, two lawyers in my office stuck their noses in to see if I was watching the clips from Japan on my computer. At the time, I didn’t know the Earth had moved. Needless to say, I didn’t return to the survey. Somehow it didn’t seem quite so important when contrasted with the disturbing videos of cars trying to outrun the ocean. Nevertheless, I do still hate U-verse, and had I not ruined my relationship with Direct TV, Charter Cable, and Dish TV, U-verse would be out!