Wednesday, November 8, 2006


Written last night...

One thing about monopolies. You can usually treat your customers as poorly as you can get away with, without the PUC stepping in. However, you can go too far. Point in case...

My wife ordered two DVR's from Cox Cable and even offered to pick them up at the local store. No, no, Cox insists on overnight shipping.

Three days later they're setting on our porch when we get home from work. One of them is missing it's power cord. After forty-five minutes of being on hold, we determine the other (obviously a refurb) can only display the schedule (no video).

One phone call later, we discover that they can't be shipped back, we have to take them in to the local store. This means that I either have to take a day off or burn a Saturday morning to visit the store.

Two days later, I'm standing outside the local store, waiting for it to open. Unfortunately, other people knew I was going to be there so they decided that they had to show their solidarity by also standing in line. Ahead of me.

Two hours later, I'm at the counter, explaining to the problem with the box to the guy behind the counter. He explains that due to a mix up at the warehouse, he cannot replace my box at this time and asks if I would like to schedule a visit to my house. A few questions later, I discover that I would be charged for this visit.

Five minutes later, I leave the store (with a receipt for the box I just turned in) with a promise that we would be called when a new box is available.

After a few stops at the local gas station, burger joint and shopping center, I arrive home to realize that I hadn't called my wife (when I left the store) to tell her "How The Cable Company Was Going To Fix Her DVR".

Fifteen minutes later, she's extracted a refund for the money paid for the service-so-far, a credit for $20, and a promise that the next available DVR would be shipped to the house. (Have I said that I am in awe of my wife sometimes?)

Five minutes later, I realize that the phrase "ship overnight" was used. (Have I mentioned that sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake?)

Of course, three days later we arrive home to find that the delivery guy had left the box on the front porch again (we've asked them not to do that).

Ninety seconds later, we place the box on the dining table and open it to discover that the device delivered was a cable converter, not a DVR.

A split second later, I'm able to actually see the large capital letters as they pass through my wife's lips:AUGH!! (I think I know where Charles M. Shultz got the idea.)

Ten seconds later, my wife has dialed the phone to customer support. After the obligatory waiting period, during which the not-really-soothing hold-music is interrupted a number of times by your-business-is-important-to-us-please-hold messages, my wife has determined that: there are no DVR's available at this time as the ones available are reserved for people already on the list for replacement, there's been another mix up at the warehouse, we still don't want to schedule a visit, there's actually no supervisor on duty in the call center at the moment, the operator is unable to understand why my wife is angry, and, ooh!, a supervisor just walked in.

Two minutes later, my wife has a promise that someone will drive out to the house (from the only store in town) to hand deliver the DVR. (Have I said that I sometimes fear my wife?) Whether or not the device actually shows up remains to be seen. I'm not concerned about it though. In situations like this, I never am. It's always handled by my awesome/fearsome/loving wife who used to supervise customer support for a large Japanese conglomerate.

I will admit that I find these snafu's funny much, much earlier than she does. (I think that it's funny now.)

My advice to Cox: 1) Fire the guy in the warehouse (or the programmer that wrote the excuse generator). 2) Tell the poor schmuck who's delivering the box to smile and back away... 3) ...slowly... 4) ... from my wife. The dog only bites. 5) For lessons learned, write down that there exists an Ol' Girl Network (that didn't come out right but you get the idea), somewhat of a NANOG for current and former supervisors of customer service centers, where members have met at conferences, made friends, and know all of the office phone numbers and some of the home phone numbers of many of the OGN members. I doubt The Kevin Bacon Game works here (there's not that much separation) and, for me, "reach out and touch someone" has taken on a different meaning.

Uh, I did indicate that my wife can be scary sometimes?

Hint for those that still don't get it: my wife makes our Halloween costumes with a collection of t-shirts, cans of black and red spray paint, and whatever vehicle happens to be parked in the driveway. (We go as "road kill".) (The trick is to spray the tire as the vehicle is rolling.)

Update: The box was delivered. I discovered: he has a wife too, there really was a mix up at the warehouse (grain of salt needed here but...), and you can catch cold after getting extremely soggy, standing in the front yard, in the dark, in the rain, talking about your wife.

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