As I was speaking to my friend, my phone line (mobil) just got disconnected and it would not ‘pick up’ the signal for the next 1 hour. I tried moving within my house, a few blocks in all 8 directions of my house, nearby states and even to the moon once. I had to call my carrier (using my friend’s phone) and talk to them for the next 50 minutes to get it sorted out.

IMHO, customer service has always been a myth, atleast in the US. Lets take for example, you bought a “highlighter pen” from the office product store nearby for $3 and you had a problem with using that. You call that toll-free number listed in the 80-page product manual that came with the pen. With the best of training given, the same person who would be ready to help you with a technical snag you faced with your highlighter pen (blue ink), will “feel very sorry” to tell you that she has been very unfortunate to not be able to help you with your highlighter pen (green ink). She offers to transfer your call to another department which specialized in taking calls for green ink pens. While you wait on the phone, the system tells you a 100 times that you are the most important customer of theirs and you will soon fall in love with the person the voice belonged to. And Yes, you guessed it right, you will be forced to participating in their 12-minute telephonic survey of the products. This is better because the system announced that your waiting time can be longer than 17 minutes.

The person she transfers your call to, will tell you that their company stopped selling highlighter pens years ago. She will suggest that you please ship the highlighter pen to their factory in Nebraska and they would fix the issue within 6–8 weeks of receiving it. All this even without asking what problem you had with your pen. You would have the bear the service costs since you did not sign up for the comprehensive warranty/ insurance of just $.10 a day ($36.5 p.a.). At this point, if you had atleast one of the six senses, you would sense that shipping the pen for $6.00 and waiting for 8 weeks made lesser sense that setting the pen on fire. During the next week, you would get atleast a pile of emails and snail mails offering to give away new pens for $1.00 less.

By now, you are irritated about your long wait and agitated, you throw the pen against the wall. You just realize that the pen cap fell apart and you are now able to use your highlighter pen (green ink) to do what you always wanted — highlight your pen model number in the rebate form for $1.25 (37 cents for postage and 4–6 weeks wait time)

I know one thing for sure. If your question with a product you bought, is any more complex than what a perfect moron would ask, chances are that, none of the idiots on the other end of the phone would actually have an answer. By saying moron’s doubts, I mean questions such as — How do I switch on my TV? Where is the “OK” key on my computer keyboard? Can I have sex while driving on the freeway? Why is my mobile phone Bluetooth headset not working? (Answer from the specialist: I figured your mobile is kept inside the microwave. Take it out and switch it on)

I heard of one of the credit organizations in the US, whose customer care phone system actually gave two options. If the customer chose option (1) call will be routed to a domestic call center, the SLA (Screwup Level Agreement) was 3–4 days and if they chose option (2) they would speak to somebody from the India-based and the turn-around time was less than a day.

Wonder how many got screwed.

So the next time you have a weekend, when you are done with all your house chores, have lots of time and nothing to do, drop your phone in water and call your customer care at 1–800-FOR-MORONS

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