Archive for the ‘Corporations’ Category

Service of Too Big to Work Well in a Country where Big is Best

Monday, March 6th, 2023


Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay 

My last post was about the trouble I’m having reaching Verizon to update my credit card info to continue the Auto Pay service on my business account. Verizon claims to be the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 142.8 subscribers.

Following are some more examples of organizations that may simply be too big to work efficiently.

Lights please

Con Edison describes itself as operating “one of the most complex and reliable electric power systems in the world, serving 3.4 million customers throughout a 604-squaremile service territory.” Last week I asked two men in the hallway on my floor what they were doing. A sliding door by the elevators was open revealing the meters for the tenants. Seems the meters weren’t communicating usage information so the technicians were retrieving it the old-fashioned way apparently typing the information into a laptop. I grumbled about technology gone wrong and one worker told me that lately his mobile phone has dodgy service, constantly dropping connections.

Can you hear and see me now?

Two weeks ago the fiber optic connection between my apartment building and the Verizon FIOS operation was interrupted causing a blackout with my high-speed Internet, TV and phone service. I wasn’t the only person here whose service was disrupted. Could have been due to something as simple as a finger smudge on a lens.

Love letters lost

A friend sent me a Valentine card from Westchester, 18 miles from where I live, postmarked February 9. It arrived on March 1. [Photo below.] I mailed an envelope to an address within my zip code that hadn’t yet arrived in five business days.

Oops

There seems to be a spate of almost plane related incidents in the U.S. and on March 1 CNN reporters Gregory Wallace, Pete Muntean and Jordan Valinsky wrote about five “recent near-collisions on US runways,” in Boston, Burbank, Austin, New York and Honolulu.

I agree with a comment by Lucrezia, a loyal reader, about the earlier Verizon post which addresses this one as well. She wrote: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that these corporate behemoths are taking on more than they can handle. In order to properly serve their clientele, they will either have to enlarge their staff or downsize. Being the greedy entities that they are, they’ll probably do nothing unless or until they face collapse.”

Do you think size and/or greed are the reasons so many procedures between giant entities and their customers are falling apart? Is technology put to use before it’s ready for prime time? Are there other reasons so much is running aground these days?

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 Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Thank goodness all giant corporations aren’t leaping into bed together to share respective expertise and information although some are inching in that direction and others are raring to go. It won’t be long.

But first a digression: In arriving at the topic for this post I counted seven fuzzy attributions in one newspaper article. Isn’t that a lot? Laced throughout a recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal I read: “According to people familiar with the conversations; the people said; a person familiar with the discussions said; some of the people said; said people familiar with the matter; some of the people said and people familiar with the matter said.”

Nevertheless I believe the topic is valid and am troubled by its implications. The title and subtitle: “Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users. Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement data.”

Reporters Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote that Facebook had spoken with people at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.” Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and platform.

What did “people say” about the conversations? “Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts.” In addition, “Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.” Messenger has 1.3 billion active monthly users according to the reporters.

Timing could be better for this outreach. The reporters reminded readers about current investigations in which Cambridge Analytica accessed data on some 87 million Facebook users without user OK. “‘We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,’ [Facebook] spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ‘We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.’”

Banks are tempted by the digital reach and doing business with online platforms with healthy and growing businesses. Even though Facebook has introduced what it says are safety features, “Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use.”

While PayPal and Square have beaten banks to the punch in the world of mobile commerce many customers continue to be comfortable with traditional ways of paying such as credit and debit cards, cash and checks.

Some deals between big players are already struck though I question their purpose: American Express members can reach a rep through Facebook. [Why would you need to do that?] Paypal users can send money through Facebook Messenger and Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet lets customers place online orders with some merchants.

Before all these mergers of communications, customers and data happen, shouldn’t there first be a firm grasp on digital customer privacy? Why are we becoming so lazy: Is it so onerous to check a balance on your bank’s website that you need Facebook do it for you? Can you believe that AmEx members can’t reach out to a company rep but instead need Facebook to do it for them? These “benefits” appear to potentially favor everyone but the consumer—do you agree?  Do you pay for things via mobile wallet, credit or debit cards, cash or checks? And last, does an article with more than a few generic attributions disturb you?

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