8.28.2006

The soothing automated female voice that drives me to despair

Abandon hope all ye who enter here” -- sign over the gates of hell.

We never stop working for you” -- printed on each page of my Verizon bill.

I told Verizon that I was moving on July 31, which was only seven days in advance of my moving date. They offer “moving services”, however, and assured me that I would have dialtone on August 9, the first day in my new place. Due to confusion about the correct street address, however, the new service didn't happen until August 15. The confusion may have been partly my fault so I can't get too worked up about this, though it was a major pain, I don't use a cell phone, so no dialtone meant no phone service at all.

The dialtone situation, however, pales in comparison to my misadventures with getting a DSL line provisioned. It was originally scheduled to be installed on August 21st. Because of the confusion with getting dial tone set up, it was never apparent – though it should have been – to Verizon DSL that I had telephone service at all: An internal error on their part. So the 21st came and went with no sign of Internet service.

To call Verizon's customer service numbers is to sink into an automated voice response unit guided by a deliberately soothing, very calm female voice. My guess is that this was developed by someone with a degree in industrial psychology who did some testing and determined the following:

That callers are mostly male
Are likely to be angry about something

And designed the system accordingly. This voice has become the equivalent of the disembodied voice of HAL in 2001 to me... Asking me what I need and why I am calling and “thanks for choosing Verizon”.

The soothing effect only works the first couple of times. When the order gets lost and nothing happens and answers are not forthcoming the last thing I want to hear is a disembodied voice asking me to confirm my number and what my problem is. The lack of human contact only adds to the frustration. Put me in touch with #^*@#! person... I don't have the patience for this.

When I have spoken with Verizon staff, for the most part they have been professional as to customer service protocols... but pretty clueless as to why I am having problems.

One said “I don't see your order (for DSL).”
Another (on the DSL side of Verizon) said “We don't have a customer service record (showing I had dialtone), you need to call the telephone side and tell them this” -- broadband and telephone service are two separate entities-- I suggested that she was telling me to do her job for her.... & she admitted that this was the case!

I've spoken to three other live people and no one has taken ownership of this situation and I've been given all sorts of contradictory information (including an assurance that I would have service on Friday August 25th – which didn't happen). The connection is now supposed to be turned up on Sept. 1st.

It's been a learning experience not having an Internet connection as I use email more than the phone to stay in touch with people and as my main source of news and information. There's plenty to do with getting settled so it could have been worse but still I feel the phone company did a pretty bad job with my order – which still isn't in place. It's like they try to maximize the frustration. In retrospect I would have set up a dial up account for a month just to tide me over.

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