To The Satellite Sisters who entertained me quite a bit this afternoon as they discussed the Wall Street Journal's article today called Pet Peeves in Customer Service. Of course my pet peeve is that the WSJ is subscription-based and unless you pay, you can't read the article.
The article provides explanations these customer service situations that can create meltdowns of enormous proportion.
1. When you call a customer-service line, an automated voice often asks you to punch in your account information. So why does the live operator ask you for that information all over again?
2. Why can't stores ever deliver an appliance or piece of furniture when they say they will? And why do I have to sit around all day waiting for them to show up?
3. Why are public-address systems frequently inaudible? This isn't just a problem with antiquated speakers in subway stations. Brand-new sound systems in airports and other transportation hubs can also be impossible to hear.
4. Why can't you buy a non proprietary cellphone and use it with any carrier, the way you can do with a land line?
5. How come banks immediately take money out of your account for debit- card transactions, but when it comes to depositing money it can take as long as five days for a check to clear and be posted to your account?
6. Why do you have to pay for incoming and out- going minutes on cellphones? Essentially, a cellphone carrier is collecting twice for one call -- from the caller and from the person receiving the call. Shouldn't only outgoing calls cost money?
7. Why do rental-car companies charge so much money to put gas in the tank, forcing travelers to drive around near airports looking for a normal gas station so they don't get gouged? Also, why is rental-car insurance so confusing? You already have insurance through your credit- card company or your own auto insurer, so why do they try to sell you double coverage?
8. If companies are allowed to sell personal information about you to third-party marketers, even without your consent, why can't you just sell your own information directly to marketers?
9. Why is mobile directory assistance so unreliable? It seems that when you call from your cellphone, they can never find the number you need.
10. Why are items in hotel minibars so expensive? Do candy bars and bottles of water really have to cost $5? While we're at it, why do cheap and midprice hotels often provide wireless access free, while expensive hotels charge for it?
On the radio, The Satellite Sisters focused most of their discussion about the inability to get a correct number from directory assistance.
WSJ's explanation is that there are too many database's around. However, a former directory assistance operator said that the problem was two fold. First, she agreed there are some very bad databases out there and some have numbers that are three years old. In addition, the phone companies put a lot of pressure on the directory assistance operators to handle the call in a certain amount of time. According to this former directory assistance operator, if they can't find the number you want immediately, they're not going to try any harder because it will look bad on their record.
Here's the thing. Even though I read the explanations, it didn't make me feel any better. I still hate going through all the levels of an automated voice mail system and all the reasons in the world won't change that.