Thursday, June 21, 2007

How not to provide online customer service

Two days ago, I sent an email to eVoice expressing my desire to cancel the number we had set up with them eight months ago. We weren't really using it, and I decided I would like to cancel before we were billed the $4.95 for next month's service. I got an email this evening directing me to call them or to log in (with the provided link) to an online representative to do it via the web. Sounded like a good idea. Here is the dialog that ensued (some identifying information removed for my protection and that of the hard sell representative I had to deal with):

Welcome to chat.
The session has been accepted.
{eFax} Hello, ___. Welcome to j2 Global online support. I am Won't-Take-No-Guy, your online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you today?
{ME} I would like to cancel my eVoice account
{eFax} I'm sorry to hear that you wish to cancel. Could you please provide me your Fax number and PIN for verification?
{ME} Pin is ___
{ME} my phone # is ____
{eFax} Thank you for providing your information.
{eFax} Please give me a moment while I go through your records.
{eFax} Thank you for providing your information. Please give me a moment while I go through your records. In the meantime, please type the number corresponding to your reason for cancellation:

1) Moving to another provider
2) Bought a Fax machine
3) Business or role changed
4) Short term project completed
5) Financial reasons
6) Problems with Faxing or Billing
7) Dissatisfied with Quality of service
8) Too Costly

{ME} 4
{eFax} Thank you for your patience. I have located your account with the given information.
{eFax} In the current scenario and as a special consideration, your eVoice account will be credited with $9.90 so that you may utilize our services without being billed any monthly fee for the next two billing cycles.Hence, you will be able to use our service to its fullest capabilities and re-evaluate it for your faxing needs. During this credit period, you will not be charged any monthly fees.You will not be billed any monthly fee for next 2 months.
{eFax} If however, you still feel that you do not have any use for our services by the end of the two months credit period or before the 2 months credit period, then you can always contact us back anytime.
We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
{ME} I do not need another 2 months. I want to cancel now. I really do not use the number, so I do not want to have to contact you guys again in 2 months for a service I am not using.
{ME} Please cancel now.
{eFax} I am suggesting you to go for the above offer this way you can maximize the value for the money you have spent on our services. I am suggesting you the offer since you have paid for the current month the regular monthly fee and since there is no refund applicable at this moment for the monthly fee which you have paid.
{eFax} All you need to do is to get back to us anytime you want on the same chat window at the end of the two months of credit period or before the two months of credit period and let us know your decision. We are available 24/7. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We will immediately process your request.
{ME} NOW, please. I am not and will not be using the service any longer.
{ME} I do not want to have to go through this again. And, I definitely do not want to be billed next week either (which I understand you are saying you won't).
{eFax} If you wish we will provide you the next charge date to contact us you can make a note in your monthly planner and get back to us.
{eFax} Alright, I will cancel the account for you now. I'm sorry that you are leaving eFax.
At eFax, we are continuously improving our products and services. Please do consider us if your faxing needs should change in the future.
{ME} My life is too busy to take time out to contact you again.
{eFax} Is there anything else you would like to have assistance with?
{ME} No, thank you.

So, as you can see, the point here is that they do not want you to cancel. They KNOW that if they can get you to agree not to cancel at this very moment, that you will probably forget (or not bother) to contact them again in two months when they will get to bill you again.

Lovely, no?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sippy cup mom should have known better

I'll admit that traveling with a small child on your own can be stressful. However, this mother should have known better than to behave the way that she did.

A mother traveling alone was escorted from a security checkpoint because her son had a sippy cup with liquid in it. TSA advised her of the policy that no liquids could be brought from the unsecured area of the airport to the secure boarding area. There apparently was no place for her to empty the cup near the check point. She says that TSA wanted to confiscate the cup (which would have allowed her to pass the checkpoint and board), but that her son became upset and did not want to give up his cup.

The TSA does not normally escort people from checkpoints because of liquids in their possession. Perhaps they escorted her because she was resistant to their direction? Even if they were being draconian in the efforts to ensure her compliance, IT IS THEIR JOB!

TSA posted video of the escort on their web site. It shows the woman taking the sippy cup from her son and shaking the contents of the cup all over the stone floor of the exit area. This created a safety hazard. Eventually, TSA staff brought paper towels and directed the woman to clean up the liquid. She had to use a lot of towels to clean up the water. She claims that she was nervous and spilled the water, but the video clear shows her shaking the cup to empty its contents.

Now, here's the REALLY STUPID part. The woman is a former Secret Service agent. TSA claim that she tried to flaunt her status as a means of circumventing the liquid prohibitions. Even if TSA's claim is not true, someone who has worked in a law enforcement capacity for the government should know to take other agents of the government seriously.

Yes, traveling alone with a small child can be stressful. However, as a former Secret Service agent, this woman should know how to handle stress better than this. Instead of whining to everyone who will listen about her mistreatment, she should be ashamed at her own behavior. Even if everything she says about the TSA's over reaction is true, watch the video and decide for yourself: Did she spill the water on purpose? (To me, it looks like she did.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

I could live with a B ... um ... sure

As most of you know, I am back in school chasing after a second Bachelor's degree. I already have a Master's. And, for those of you who don't know, grades really don't matter in the real world. Once you have some professional experience, hiring managers could not care less if you got a C in a class or an A. REALLY!!!

So, why do I give a rat's hind quarters if I got a B or an A in this stupid class that I am required to take by my university? Everyone has to take it. We all know how much fun those core courses are, right? Especially when they are taught by people who don't yet have their PhDs and want to inflate their egos by patronizing, what they think is, your lack of academic experience.

So, let's just say that my instructor and I have butted heads a few times this semester. She tried to 'mentor' me on a few assignments where she wasn't clear on her instructions by telling me that I would "find in (my) academic career" that my instructors typically wanted things the way that she did (even though she never clearly stated that she wanted something in a particular format). The first thing I did was point out to her that I am NOT new to this academic game, which caused her to back down somewhat.

Since then, she gave me a ZERO on an open-book quiz. I asked her why, and she basically pointed out that, though the questions were supposedly essay responses that were supposed to reflect our understanding of the materials in the chapter, I should look in the back of the text book for the answers she was after!!! She then reminded me that the quiz could be retaken up to three times. So, I retoook the quiz, copying the answers out of the book, word-for-work. Then, I sarcastically apologized to her in an email and stated that I now understood the lesson I was supposed to glean from the chapter, and had copied the answers out of the back of the book. She responded that that was what she wanted me to do.

WTF? The idea is not to absorb and assimilate the material, and make it your own. The lesson is to copy the exact wording out of the book for an essay question? Er, um ... yah.

I could have survived the zero. I already had an A- going into that quiz. With only 10% of the credits of this course left, I could blow the rest of it off and pass with at least a C+. However, I am just now wired that way. I like getting A's, even if no one other than me ever knows that I got them.

Sadly, I have to play the game this cluelss-witch wants me to play it in order to score my desired A.

The fun thing is, my son has had two instructors this year that were absolute clueless witches. I totally concurred with him on his assessment of their teaching styles and personalities. However, I commiserated with him that, while we both disrespected our instructors, we must play by their rules while playing on their playing field. He gets it. Sometimes I wish that I didn't.

One more week and I am done with this moron!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The car set me up!

After living in the D.C. area for years, you would think that Marion Barry's exploits and charmed life would no longer amaze me. However, I cannot fathom how he continues to be elected to one public office or another after getting himself in one scrape after another.

Of course, at the age of 71, after the life he has led, maybe he wasn't drunk. Maybe he's just dottering?

... While I am all for D.C. attaining statehood, how can Congress take any locale seriously that can keep electing this kind of yoyo?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Spring cleaning is VERY liberating

I have spent the last two weekends going through unpacked 'stuff' (read: junk) in my basement. The ultimate goal is to divest ourselves of a large chunk of it to lighten the material burden in our lives AND to make room in the dreaded basement for a crafting space, which I have so desperately longed for.

We have made great progress. Though, we still have a ways to go. A large portion of the 'cast off goods' have entered the realm of dumpster denizen-hood. Transient items intended for our church yard sale, are congregating at the far end of the basement waiting for their day of transit (in about 10 days, I think).

I can actually walk around the whole of my basement now. The space that I want to use for crafting is nearly clear. Since the closest wall is unfinished concrete, I have gotten my husband to agree to let me embellish the surface with some psychedelic paint. He eventually plans to finish the wall with real drywall and such. Until then, I think it's only fair that I get to have a little fun with it. He has relented. So, soon, the first big craft project will begin: painting florescent stripes across a large section of basement wall.

Perhaps I'll post a picture of THAT project once there is something to see.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rogues verses imbeciles

I stumbled on this quote recently that seems so very apt.
"Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest."

Alexandre Dumas, quoted in the Johannesburg Business Daily

For the last six years, I have been struggling with my opinion on our current Administration. Now I just have to figure out if any of them have ever taken a rest so that I can get off the fence and decide which it is they really are.