Certain things make me nervous. Like seeing eighty-year-olds behind the wheel. Or watching the Blackhawks when Corey Crawford’s in the net. Running out of coffee creamer is enough to spike my blood pressure, but by far the worst is making a call to customer service.

For one, they have the power. As much as we would like to think that threatening to cancel our service would make them tremble with fear and guilt… They don’t care. I know this to be true because I’ve worked in customer service, or rather I’ve worked in places with customers. Most stores emphasize that you should consider the customer king, but at the end of the day, we all know the deal. No one person is going to single-handedly take down Target or Bed Bath & Beyond.

I once worked in a clothing boutique, and for the record, twenty-something women are the worst customers ever. Every week, I would get some chick trying to return a dress that not only looked worn, but also reeked of smoke and alcohol. Apparently you don’t go clubbing in the same outfit twice. So I would refuse the return. And she would pout. And I would just stare at her with a smile. And eventually she would angrily stuff that disgusting dress back into her bag and stomp out of the store. Why? Because I had the power.

Secondly, I hate when customer service representatives bombard you with countless “offers.” It’s like walking into Trader Joe’s for a loaf of bread and being pummeled with apples, eggs and jars of salsa as you’re trying to check out. Doesn’t feel good. The pseudo enthusiasm in a customer service rep’s voice as he informs me with rapid-fire speech about the great price I can get for bundling my bills is both commendable and slightly confusing. Is basic cable really that exciting? Then I burst his bubble and tell him no anyway.

So… I had to call customer service the other day. My internet bill had increased by 20% in the last two months, and I wanted to passive-aggressively express my disapproval. The first guy I got on the line was your classic CC rep. Way too excited about his job and way too eager to sell me services that I didn’t want. After a series of polite yet firm refusals, I finally got him to explain what was going on with my bill. To my surprise, he then told me that I could decrease my bill by getting rid of an unnecessary feature. Before I knew it, he was transferring me to another department to make the change and thanking me for my business.

However, my conversation with the new rep started off a little rocky. She went through the same spiel as the first guy and again I responded with “no,” “no” and “no.” Was this some kind of bait and switch situation? I knew it was too good to be true. Yet before I could hang up, she asked that I hold while she consulted her supervisor… A few minutes later, she got back on the line and informed me that they could reduce my bill to less than half of its current price!

Needless to say, I was highly suspicious. I hadn’t threatened to cancel my service once, so why was she being so nice to me? That’s when she asked what I did for a living, and we got to talking. I found out that she lived in Orange County. I mentioned that I had attended grad school there. Then we started chatting about how bizarre the entertainment industry can be. She told me about a trip she took with her daughter to see all the fancy shops on Rodeo Drive, but unfortunately it was cold and rainy that weekend… That’s when it dawned on me that this woman wasn’t just a customer service rep. She was a real person. This was merely her job, and as it is for many of us, it didn’t define who she was.

We ended up having a perfectly lovely conversation. Also, I’ll now be saving over $300 a year on my internet service. Thanks, AT&T!

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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6 Responses to “How May I Help You?”

I was wondering how that story was going to end… 🙂

Bun Boy
April 12th, 2012

Your posts have been oozing optimism lately. You must be in love or something! 😉 Keep this happy tone up and you’ll put that “People Suck” tag outta business!

April 13th, 2012

Well done! I have had similar experiences, even with the dreaded IRS. It can be extremely frustrating dealing with company’s customer service department, but you hit it on the head when you realized that these are just folks doing a job and that it sometimes takes a customer’s best customer service skills, or really his/her best personal skills, to break through with a customer service rep.

Also, I am an ATT customer so I’m going to call right now to get my bill reduced. 🙂


Kevin Vandever
April 14th, 2012

I do love writing those cliffhangers… 😉

April 18th, 2012

Heehee… Or I just have a ridiculous amount of amazeballs people in my life to make me this happy! 🙂

April 18th, 2012

Thank you so much for the kind note, Kevin! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post & hope you have as great an experience with the fine folks at AT&T! 😉

April 18th, 2012