Are There Any Live Humans Out There?

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Whenever you call the phone company, Internet provider, or even the doctor’s office, you often get their voice menu. 

By the time, you figure out which number is the one you want you to forget why you called or you do not have time to wait and talk to the representative because you might be late for work or an appointment.

worldDoes anyone remember calling information and getting an actual person?  Does anyone remember calling the doctor’s office and having him answer the phone?  What about 911? You even have to wait for them if they are busy.  Calling a charge card company is an adventure in futility.

By the time, you decide whether you want a representative or to just pay your bill you can become so frustrated that you decide to forget about the whole thing and mail in your bill and maybe attach a complaint.

What really bugs me about charge card companies and phone companies is they charge you a fee to pay your bill over the phone.  It is called a processing charge because someone, namely, you the consumer, would rather pay the bill over the phone and get a direct confirmation number rather than chance having the bill not get there on time.

What about if the mail carrier puts your bill in the wrong mailbox and you never receive it?  Is that your fault?  What happens if the mail carrier does not see your name on the mailbox and decides to send it back to the charge card company who would never think to call you and ask if you moved or see if a mistake was made?  This happened to me too many times but I made sure to tell the charge card companies when I realized the bills never arrived that it would have been nice if someone had called to see if I had moved rather than assuming since I do have good credit and I am never late with any payments.  That would be too easy.

All too often we try and call a government agency or a credit bureau to try and find out why we were denied a card or we need some information to get services for a parent or loved one.  You can stay on hold forever.  You almost never get the credit bureaus without a long wait and when you do, the worker is so annoyed that he or she was stuck with the call that to get the answers you want can be impossible to get.  Except, if you know how to defuse their attitude before they have a chance to respond.  It is to these people when they finally get on the phone that I say thank goodness I finally got a great or nice person who is going to help me because I am so frustrated with the situation I do not know what to do.  This usually works because now they know that you consider them the expert and the answer to all of your woes.

Paying bills or checking my accounts online is out of the question since I had my identity stolen not too long ago.  At least if they stole mine they could have given me another person who might be richer and we could have agreed on the change.  What did happen is that in one of the banks the teller changed the address on the back of the charge slip when a payment for an account was being made and decided she would love me to move to Chicago.  I had no idea that she did this but I found out when I received a letter from the bank congratulating me on moving and where did I want the cards sent and what was the new address- but they already had that from the person who wrote the information on the back of the slip.

It took a long time and many different police departments in many states and in other countries to finally straighten this mess out.  However, I learned a hard lesson.  If you decide to mail your payment make sure you black out the change of address portion on the back of the slip so that no one can do that to you.  Put a fraud alert on your Social Security number so that no one can take out a card in your name without having the charge card company that you want the card to call you at home or on a given number that you provide at the time you apply.  Of course, that means you will not get your card approved on the spot, but so what.  Better to be safe than sorry!

I think the worst thing is when you call for an appointment for an exam at a doctor’s office and you have to wait until you get the right person’s button to press who takes those appointments.  That is really upsetting especially if you are sick.  What is bad is when you finally get the person and they put you on hold.  Then, I just show up and pray that anyone will see me.  Even when you call a doctor’s service you have to pray that, the person who takes the message actually gives it to the doctor and that the doctor calls you back.  What I really hate is when they do call you back and they tell you to go to the emergency room because they cannot do anything because you called after hours.

Does anyone really want to go there and sit for days and days and hours and hours?  Of course, sometimes that is the only solution, but at least they can give you an answer to a question before sending you off to see an unknown overworked ER doctor who often has no clue who you are or about your case.  This doctor is only going to call him anyway to consult.  Why not consult with you first?  I think the one thing that made me angry was when my husband got sick and the ER doctor told he needed to see a doctor about what was wrong with him.  It was at that point I very blatantly asked her what she was a doctor and if he needed certain tests why not do them in the hospital rather than wait for an appointment that might take weeks to get.  The only good thing was that I have a friend who works for a heart doctor and she was able to get him an appointment within a few days.

I really get incensed when someone leaves a message for you to call them back regarding test results or other urgent matters and they leave you hanging for twenty minutes on hold to find what they should have right in front of them. I really become angry when the person giving the results is not the doctor. I realize that they are busy and their time is valuable, but so is ours and sometimes you want to ask a follow-up question or when you might need to have these tests done again and you would rather speak with the person you are paying to give you the answers.

Not every doctor’s office is the same. Not everyone has a voicemail for you to guess which button to press in order to get a real person. But, most do and it gets scary to think that because of this system you might not get the care you need as fast as you might need it. What I really can’t stand is when you call during the first part of office hours and the line is busy because they have the phones off the hook in order to get their day started or to retrieve the messages that might have been left for the doctor.

I think the thing that irritated me the most today was going to a particular store which opens at ten in the morning and having the manager say that everyone had to wait outside because they were not opened yet. I decided not to wait because I am a stickler for time and when the sign says 10 I don’t think I want to wait until 10:30 for you to decide to let the customers in.

With the economy the way it is and people stressed enough afraid of losing their jobs and retail sales that are not that great, you would think that when people come into shop in your store they would be greeted with a smile and a proper welcome like they do in JC Penny in the Bronx and Dress Barn on White Plains Road in the Bronx too. As a matter of fact, when I go into any store in my area I get a warm greeting and how glad the owner or person working there is to see me.

I recently learned that if you call my cell phone provider and keep pressing zero at least four times you can avoid the dreaded voice mail menu. I also learned that if you do the same with cable and several others you might eliminate the wait time too. When asked questions I say representative loud and clear and never answer. The most frightening experience is when calling the doctor’s office and you are really sick, the doctor is sitting right there by the phone, you hear him on the phone and the nurse says he’s not in. Not into you or just not in at all. The frightening part is that if you are really sick and need immediate attention you have to wait until this person decides to allow you to speak to the person who is supposed to care for your health or go to the ER where you will have to hope they take you at all.

I know that everyone has complaints, but I refuse to let them just be complaints. I tend to do something about anything within my power that can be solved.

My Dad told me growing up that if you worry about something that you can do nothing about- do not worry it is out of your hands. If you worry about something you can do something about- Stop Complaining and do something about it! Thanks, Dad for being the smartest person in my life growing up. I really miss your wisdom and sense of humor today.

The next time you call anyone and get a voicemail ask how the representative if there is a way to get where you need to go faster. They usually can tell you what to say to the automated machine that no one wants to listen to.

Be strong-Have faith and maybe people, not machines, will rule the world in the future.

1 Comment
  1. Jack Eason says

    Here, here Gabina. You know what’s worse than the highly impersonal recorded voice? Call centres based in foreign countries where English is at best a second language. 🙂

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