Archive for the ‘Hiding’ Category

Service of When a Communicator Can’t Connect with a Communications Company

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

I’ve done well helping clients communicate with consumer and trade audiences. So why can’t I get through to Verizon Wireless, a communications company? And how can a vendor expect a customer to spend as much time as I already have, simply to accomplish a routine thing—and still not succeed?

I tried on and off for three days to update my credit card information for auto pay on my business account. Every time I feel a sense of relief because I successfully navigated press 1, press 6 to get a person, I’m disappointed. What have I accomplished?  I think that I’ve paid twice for March service.

I was promised a callback that never happened. Why did I need one? The customer service rep told me there was something wrong with the system which didn’t accept my information and she’d get back with me. [Reps aren’t able to take credit card numbers over the phone for security reasons.] CVS and Trader Joe’s had no trouble with the new card.

After countless misfires I finally reached someone to send me the link to input the new information and she said it went through. I did a happy dance that turned into a scream when after the call I received a Verizon notification that I’d discontinued Auto Pay! Huh?

To rectify this I tried Verizon Chat—to get to it I went through another time consuming rigamarole–and soon learned that Alex handled personal not business accounts. She shared a few more toll-free numbers.

I’d already tried all sorts and if I got a person he/she was inevitably in the wrong department. When promised to be transferred to a person, I’d wait on hold for minutes and find myself back to the automated voice asking me to “press 6” which meant what I needed done didn’t match any of the options. I tried yelling at the phone and hitting 000000000000000 and #######. Or sometimes I’d hit number 1 as instructed—which promised me a live person–and it didn’t register so soon after punching in my phone number and responding to a link texted to my phone proving I’m legit, a computer voice would say “You didn’t respond. Goodbye.” My phone is new, by the way.

I’ve written to the CEO of the business division. I figure I have a month to work it out. How can my phones be disconnected when I’ve probably paid twice for this month? I’ll find out.

Think of the millions who must do the same thing because their card was lost, stolen or updated. Why is the staff clueless? How come a communications company in the phone business makes it so difficult to speak with someone?

Have you been frustrated trying to accomplish a routine operation at a giant corporation?

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay 

Service of Brief is Best

Friday, November 4th, 2011

In a New York Times “Common Sense” column in Business Day, James B. Stewart observed that Paul Volcker wrote the President a three page letter with an approach to curbing banks’ risk taking and “reckless speculation.”

The Volcker Rule took up 10 pages in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Stewart reported in “Volcker Rule, Once Simple, Now Boggles.”

The regulations for public comment were published in mid October. The text: 298 pages with 1,300 questions on 400 topics. Stewart noted: “Wall Street firms have spent countless millions of dollars trying to water down the original Volcker proposal and have succeeded in inserting numerous exemptions. Now they’re claiming it’s too complex to understand and too costly to adopt.”

My first thought was this quote, often attributed to Mark Twain but written to a friend by 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal: “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter” or “Je n’ai fait cette lettre – ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.”

And then I realized that the example of words on steroids reflected obfuscation, had nothing to do with good, concise writing and everything to do with pulling layers of wool and goodness knows what else over the public’s eyes.

As I envision hundreds of foxes in countless henhouses, I think of another saying from an unknown author: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” And then I think of the Occupy Wall Street Protestors about whom many complain because they don’t have a clear message. Maybe they have so many messages and so much to complain about they are undecided as to just where to start.

What do you think of the Protestors? What examples can you share of overlong copy with the primary purpose of tripping up, hiding information or confusing readers?

Service of Hiding II

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

I was driven to write about businesses hiding from customers last August in “Service of Hiding.” Must be that time of year!

The obvious reason for hiding is if you’ve done something wrong, unless you are a young child playing hide-and-go-seek or peek-a-boo.

You’d be flabbergasted just how hard it is to find a person to speak with at certain companies. Take major search engines–the kind you use every day. Need to ask a person questions for a client? Good luck!

Two seasoned researchers spent 10+ hours using social networking and traditional techniques, knocking on the doors of a prolific list of contacts and filling out countless online contact forms. Result? Zero. I was one of those researchers. This has never happened to me before. More important: I don’t understand why companies whose reputations and missions are built on providing information insulate themselves this way.

They are working in precisely the same environment in which a GPS system can track you through your cell phone whether or not you want to be found and cookies trace what you buy and where you buy it. People like Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, post secret war records that endanger our soldiers and Afghani friends and supporters yet venues such as those we were trying to reach won’t let you in to ask a question of a person and–as noted in the first Service of Hiding–feel very comfortable not to respond to queries posted on web site contact forms.

The biggies aren’t the only ones. Have you searched a whole bunch of blogs that cover a specific topic recently? Most have contact forms or if you noodle around long enough, they indicate an email address should you want to reach the bloggers or the blog.

I’m astonished at the number of blogs that have no way to reach anybody, save jotting a comment to a post. But it would be inappropriate and poor etiquette–tantamount to spamming–for a PR person with news to send a blogger to jot an irrelevant comment to a post such as, “How can I reach you to send news on behalf of ABC Company, my client?” Why go to the trouble to write a blog and conceal who you are? Doesn’t this make the information on the blog less credible with nobody to hold accountable for the reviews or points of view?

In another instance, I reported a dead phone at our house last Thursday. It took me ¾ of an hour to reach a person. The voice activated solution to make an appointment for a repair person to come to the house six days later, didn’t fly. But at least I reached someone. I fell for a bill of goods. The phone wasn’t fixed in the promised time nor did anyone come to the house when we were told they would and it took until Saturday afternoon to get back a dial tone. The subject of expectations and telling customers what they want to hear to get them off the phone is for another post.

My business was in a law firm for its first 10 years. One of the lawyers left clients in the waiting room literally for hours. They’d call him and he didn’t respond to phone queries either. Sometimes we’d see the same client waiting for hours a second time. I always wondered why they’d come back for more. I’ve heard about lawyers who never get back to clients nor do they update them about a case or situation as promised. Amazing they stay in business.

Why do you think corporations, bloggers, lawyers and others get away with hiding? Do you know of other or similar examples?

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