Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Has It Come To This?

Every once in a while someone asks me how old I am. Not as much as before though. I guess once you hit a certain age, it doesn't really matter anymore. When they do ask me, I have a hard time remembering for a few seconds. 56? I ask. No, 57. WOW. 57. I'll be 60 before I know it. I sometimes sit back and assess my behavior for signs of 'growing old'. I want to see that I really am or that I'm really not an old person yet.

Today, I found myself neck deep in old age behavior. Reveling in the knowledge that I was off from work today, I moved the puppy to another room to avoid all distractions, sat down at my computer desk and made the call I've been waiting to make for over a week. 1-800-COMCAST.

Oh, I knew I'd be placed on hold several times for countless minutes and shuffled from one department to another. But I knew that with plenty of time on my hands, a glass of ice tea beside me and no distractions, eventually someone from Comcast would have to listen to my complaint. I chuckled to myself. They had no idea who they were dealing with. But today... yes, today, they would find out.

I was ready. I rattled off my account number as soon as they asked me for it (even though I had already punched it in the phone and followed it with the confounded pound sign). They weren't going to get rid of me that easily. I patiently waited as they transferred me from one wrong department to another. I listened to their scratchy elevator music, eying a web site I had already pulled up to amuse myself with during this wait. I wrote down all their names and code numbers, except for one whose accent was so heavy I couldn't be sure if he was thanking me for waiting or telling me to say four Our Father's and a Hail Mary.

I kicked off my shoes and licked my lips when it appeared I had finally reached THE ONE who would have to listen to my story. I knew the buck probably wouldn't stop there, but it wouldn't be too much further.

I explained that my husband and I had had a Comcast Xfinity Home Security System installed two weeks before. "Great!" the unsuspecting girl cried. "No. Not so great," I retorted. "The alarm is so soft that no one can hear it. Not me. Not my husband and certainly not any burglar finding his way into my supposedly secure home. It went off the other night and we slept right through it." Before she could come back with a remedy which would no doubt cast a suspicion of senility on me, I assured her that I knew how to work the system and I had set the audible alarm to its highest and loudest setting. I quickly added that my hearing was just fine before she accused me of the ailment. My heart rate increased as my story continued. "To make matters worse, not only didn't we hear the alarm, it stopped on its own and the monitoring company never even called us to see if we were being robbed or murdered!" She apologized as I hit her with another blow. "I have to tell you that any last remnant of trust for your security company vaporized when one of the sensors fell off the sliding glass door as we were watching television last night. That's right. It just fell off on its own, and would still be lying there useless on the floor, except I had to pick it up before my puppy ate it."

I sat back, waiting for the litany of apologies and promises that were sure to come. Maybe even a free month or two. My expectations slammed into a wall of reality as I recognized the sudden and unexpected sound of a dial tone. No! I screamed silently. We were disconnected!! Before my apologies and promises!!

Asking my husband to exchange my glass of iced tea for a cocktail instead, I re-dialed the number. Put in my home telephone number. Accepted the pre-recorded announcement that there was a large volume of calls and I may have to wait for at least ten minutes for a representative to respond.  No problem. Bob made me a large cocktail.

The second associate was just as apologetic as the first, maybe more so, since I told her I was disconnected after waiting the obligatory ten minutes. However, in a brain numbing instant, I was once again disconnected. How could this be?

Wiping a few beads of sweat from my upper lip and opening a window, I re-dialed the number. This time I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. "I want to speak to someone who has been trained to speak to a customer without hanging up on them, if that is remotely possible." "Yes," she finally agreed, but I "would have to wait even longer for a supervisor". Okay by me. I could see that Bob was already stirring my second cocktail. What a loving and supportive guy!

After a THIRTY-SEVEN minute wait (I surmised that I must be getting the supervisor of all supervisors) she got on.
I explained the entire story once again, allowing myself to dramatize a word here and there to vent my growing frustration and warn her of my potential escalation to postal behavior. She positively assured me that she would get to the bottom of this. She would personally remedy this situation if it took her the rest of her career. Absolutely nothing would stop her. All I needed to do was hold on for just a few more minutes while she contacted the person with all the Comcast power.... maybe, quite possible a CEO I thought.

And thought. Finishing my second cocktail I began to worry. Why was there no muzak? Where did my Supervisor of all supervisors go? FORTY-NINE minutes later I began to worry that perhaps she wasn't coming back at all.

I frantically brought up the Comcast Web Page. I clicked on the 'Live Help' button and feverishly typed in my story with two fingers. 'Eugene' typed back a message to me. I read and re-read his response. I had Bob read it, just to make sure. It was 'Eugene's' suggestion to remedy the situation. I am going to copy and paste it for you, dear Reader, so I cannot be accused of exaggerating the response in any way. Here it is:

Tech Expert [9/18/2012 10:45 AM]: Thank you for describing the issue you’re facing. I believe we have the right solution for you. Other customers who have the same issue purchase our Wireless Networking and Computer Performance. https://signaturesupport.xfinity.com/personal-tech/personal-tech-plans/maintenance-networking-bundle. This is an affordable subscription that has our technician remotely connect to your computer to properly set up, secure, and resolve your wireless network issue today as well as assist you in maintaining it on an on-going 24×7 basis. With this package we’ll install a program that continuously fine-tunes settings to make sure your system runs efficiently as well as provide 5 “live” assisted tune-ups each year. Because you are an existing Comcast subscriber, this option is only $9.95 per month with a one-time enrollment fee of $39. To order or find out more, please call 1 (866) 556-3337

Is it me or has the world gone crazy? I need to purchase a subscription that will make my security system actually work properly? The system that I already purchased and will pay over one thousand dollars a year to protect my family against harm? That's his solution? And did you notice the line where he admits that other customers have had the "same issues"? Hello!!   Fingers flying across the keyboard, I typed him a message. "Send a tech to my house and take all your crappy equipment away. I do not want to be charged one dime, and if you took any money out of my checking account for installation I want it returned immediately!"   I stared at the screen, unblinking as 'Eugene' told me that he would gladly terminate my security agreement but I would be charged a penalty fee for breaking the contract I signed when the system was installed a mere two weeks before. He then excused himself, wished me a good day and signed off.   Still holding the telephone in my rapidly numbing hand, I heard the faint but distinct sound of a dial tone. The Supervisor of all supervisors had abandoned me, too.   Hand slightly trembling, I motioned to Bob for another cocktail. But I swear, like the armies of abused and swindled old people before me, I will not let this go. I will fight this battle to its bitter end. You may not hear from me for a while. If things get too nasty Comcast may cut off my computer access. But I'll still be there. Just wait and see.