Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Close It - Please

I swear on my Mama's grave - I did not make this up. Let's face it, even I am not this creative.

Yesterday, I was trying, in my role as Administrator of my mother's estate, to close some of her accounts so we would not continue to be billed for services we did not need or being paying for anything my Mama, bless her heart, no longer was using. My first call was to the company that handles the senior phones  (You know the ones designed for senior citizens - ten large buttons, cushioned handset, and preset numbers. It resembles something Playskool would have designed for kindergartners except this one really works for the "old folks" who don't know how to use it as opposed to the pretend ones they design for the 5 year olds who know how to operate a real one but are only given a play one. But, I digress.)

I reach a rather surly operator, I guess Nancy, the friendly one on all the TV ads is with someone else. This one may as well be Peggy with Discover Card. I explain the reason for my call. Her first comment, "There is a balance on the account." "I realize that. We just found the bill." "You cannot close the account until you pay the bill." "That's fine, I'll pay the bill now. Can I give you a credit card?" "Is the card in your name?" "Yes." "We can't accept that card. The payment has to be made by the person who's name is on the account." "But she has passed away." "You told me  that."

"Can I be transferred to customer service?" "Mam, this is customer service." "Do you understand that this is my mother's account and she has died, therefore she is unable to pay the bill at this time." "That is unfortunate." "And, what is your policy when a customer dies?" "Oh, their account must be paid in full." "And, how are they supposed to pay it?" "We accept Master Card, Visa, and Discover Cards." "I just tried to give you a Visa Card." "But that was your card. If she is unable to provide her card, then you will need to complete our Form 41, and return it with a certified copy of a death certificate and a check for the full amount of the bill on the estate bank account." 

"Then the phone account will be closed?" "If it is paid in full. However, if the next billing cycle starts prior to the correct forms being received and processed then it will  not be paid in full." "Seeing, we are very close to the start of a new billing cycle, can we just make the check out for an additional month's amount?" "You can. However, if it is received and the amount is incorrect, the system will void out the transaction and you will be notified that the account is in arrears."  I'll spare you the remainder of the painful story.

One would think this company, given they market to folks 65 and older, would be prepared to deal with loved ones of customers who have passed on. This "lady", and I use the term loosely,  acted as if she was offended that a customer died and even more so that we wanted to close the account.

And, this was just one call. AT&T insisted (through their computer voice system) that I must hold for the next available operator to handle my request. However, every 30 seconds during my 25 minutes on hold a recorded loop played reminding me that most services could be handled easily on www.att.com and that I should go the Internet to get faster customer service. 

Naturally, while I was waiting for a live voice, I tried the "more efficient web site". All I found there was an on line Chat Customer Service Rep named "Charlie" who kept saying that he could not understand my request (to cancel an account.) 25 minutes with continuous loops suggesting I consult a web site which is telling me it does not understand my request is more that I can handle. Since AT&T does not have a brick and mortar store (for home phone service) I will try one more time and if that doesn't work, I may just send them a check with a polite note. (Their policy is "Make the Impossible Possible" - folks, communicating with you is still impossible.)

The irony here is that both Time Warner and Direct TV (the "evil cable and satellite companies") were most sympathetic, both offered their sympathy for "the loss of my loved one", quickly took the information they needed, made payment easy, prorated the accounts back to her date of death, and the transaction was finished in less than five pleasant minutes each - go figure. 

Meanwhile, "Peggy" is still reading from her script annoyed that customers have the audacity to die and customers of AT&T (whose problems cannot be resolved online) are languishing daily on hold going into a hypnotic state with the company's loop about their web site that runs every 30 seconds. 

1 comment:

Linda Medrano said...

Oh Ann, you have the patience of a saint.  I would have lost it with that cow named Peggy for sure!  I mean, seriously, you are going through enough losing your Mom.  Did that heifer have to add on to the trauma?  Bitch!  AT&T ought to be ashamed.  I went through all of this when Mom died and I'm aghast that people are so incompetent!