Customer service – Is it a lost art?

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It seems nearly every day in some sort of situation we are on the phone asking for some help with something, and the person offering help is from another country. I know because I ask them where they are located. Often their accents are so heavy, they can’t be understood. This happens with airlines, car rental agencies, tech-support firms, even Sirius XM radio representatives (who hung up on me when I asked them to repeat several times). Much of the time this results in poor customer service.
Then there’s the unfriendly, free offer. I know someone who got “sucked into” an Amazon Prime membership. They were offered a free two-month trial and obviously did not read some “fine print.” After the trial time, the charge of $105 appeared on their credit card. First, that person was wondering where did they get the credit card number? It seems there was an automatic sign-up after the free two-month trial and there’s no one to call at Amazon…no phone number, just lots of choices on the Internet for help, which means only answering questions that might be commonly asked. They found they were stuck with Amazon Prime for the next year. I sure hope they find it useful.
On the topic of never talking to a live person, the recording will say push one for this or two for that, but sometimes even up to the six choices, none that you want. Sometimes you can push zero and a person will come on, but other times that actually disconnects you after it says sorry.
I didn’t understand that or that’s not a valid choice! No human voice to talk to can be very frustrating.
So now, the incident that brought me to this tirade. I recently left my debit card (much worse than leaving my credit card!) at a restaurant in the little holder in the black folder that is brought back containing the receipt. Let me say right now, I have never done this before. My excuse is that I was distracted, talking to my friends while I was filling out the tip. After signing my receipt, I forgot to grab the card. That will, hopefully, never happen again. The first thing I’m going to do is grab the card before signing. You might say, I’ve learned my lesson.
At any rate, I discovered my problem about five hours after I left the restaurant. I opened my wallet for another reason and saw the card was gone. Immediately, I knew what had happened. The restaurant was the last place I had been.
I frantically searched online for the phone number. I could’ve found it from my receipt which I still had, but remember, there was some stress involved here. Finally, I spoke with a manager who told me he looked in the safe and my debit card is not there. My next phone call was to my bank to block the account. If this had been a credit card I would not have been so concerned, because I know I’m only responsible for a relatively small amount there. All I could think of was that someone was now cleaning out my account.
Once my card was blocked I felt better. After thinking more about it, I decided to call the restaurant again to describe my server, maybe getting some help there. This time I spoke to a  different manager, who was much more interested in helping me. He also told me they had hundreds of cards there as people left cards every day. OK, whatever, I still didn’t have my card.
After I described the server and where we were sitting, the manager agreed to look for it and call me back. Two hours later the call came; he had found my card. It was down between some liquor bottles in the bar. That didn’t make me feel any better. He assured me that he would put it in the safe and keep it for me. At this point that wasn’t quite so important since I had already blocked the card, but that was good customer service!
I spoke to a bank representative the next day and told her the situation. She pointed out that someone could’ve copied my number in all that time, even though the card was still there. She offered to unblock it, but I chose to forgo that and have them send me a new one.
She told me it would take 10 business days. Now that’s basically about two weeks by my count. I probably use that debit card every day. I told her I realized it was my fault but asked if she could do better then 10 business days. Why yes, she could, but it would cost me an extra $25. What? They want to charge me? Is that good customer service?
I decided I could live without the card for another two weeks and give up easy access to my hard-earned money in the bank. There is always the check writing possibility, but it seems so antiquated now. What kind of service is that? If you can do something in two or three days why would you charge extra? Would someone be overworked printing my new card?
Obviously, it’s a way for my bank to make money!
More customer service stories next week!
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)



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