Friday, January 28

MBNA America: Who Am I?

Our credit company, MBNA America, suckered us into one of those free trials for some credit protection thing. The trial period ended long ago. Jared swears he canceled it months ago, but it keeps showing up on our monthly statement. I called today to cancel it once and for all.

After I made it through the phone tree, it asked for the "4-digit reference number" for my questionable charge. On my statement, next to the charge, it says "500F." Well, I typed in 5-0-0-3, the 3 being the "F."

"I'm sorry," the recording apologized, "that is not a valid reference number. Please enter the 4-digit reference number now. It appears on your statement next to the charge." It was then that I realized none of the other charges has a letter in the reference number. Of course, the system is not equipped to handle them. (I overcame this little hurdle by entering 4 random digits and waiting.)

After 15 minutes on hold, I finally got through to a warm body. And . . . wait, you can guess this part. Yup-- she had to transfer me!


Got a human being again. He asked to verify my credit card number. Never mind that I had to enter it when I dialed and got put on hold, AND verified with the woman I orginally spoke with. Third time's the charm.

"Your name?"

"Megan Clarke."

"Verify your birthdate."

I did.

Silence. "Uhh, is there another cardholder on this account?"

"Yes, my husband."

"Verify his birthdate please."

Silence. "What's his middle initial?"

Gave it.

Pause. "Okay, I have the right account here, but those birthdays don't match. Can you verify your billing address?"


"Hmm . . . and phone number?"

Here ya go.

Another pause. "Well, none of this information is matching what I have in the system."

"Are you sure you have the right account?"

Turns out he did. With our mailing address and phone number of 18 months ago, and completely wrong birthdays to boot. (And we're not talking a little wrong, like month and day reversed. No, we're talking different months, different days, and 20 years off.)

I had a little question. "If you have an outdated address, how am I getting bills at my current residence?"

Of course, HIS department doesn't send out bills. HIS department does only this credit protection crap. My next question: "Considering your information is so wildly incorrect, isn't it possible that my husband actually DID call and cancel, and this is just another error?"

Oh, no. Not possible. They record every customer interaction. (I'm thinking yeah, probably about as well as AT&T does . . .) But alas, my spirit has been broken. I used up my Righteous Indignation with AT&T Part VII yesterday.

So this is supposedly canceled, anyway. Stay tuned.

P.S. Part of this credit protection is a sort of "insurance," where in case of hospitalization or involuntary unemployment, we are not responsible for our monthly CC payment. Gee, wish we'd known we were still paying for that during the 3 months Jared was involuntarily unemployed last year. Naturally, it's past their claims deadline. My new motto: pay twice, get screwed all day!

Thursday, January 27

Return of AT&T

I don't believe it. Oh, well, yes I do. It's me, after all!

Today two AT&T bills came in the mail. Remember, I canceled our accounts and our last day of service was December 20. I opened my bill with trepidation. Billing cycle Dec. 21-Jan. 20 . . . $0.00. I let out a big sigh and giggled. Let them waste their pennies sending $0 bills to former customers.

Then I opened Jared's. Amount due, $39.85.

*Darling* Gabrielle the Supervisor apparently canceled *only* my account, despite my VERY clear desire to cancel both. Totally incompetent or vindictive? Does it matter?

The first person I spoke to tonight, Ekara, listened to me explain rather abruptly that this bill was in error. She pulled up my account and said, "There are no notes here indicating this account was canceled." Wrong answer. I informed her that her that this was merely another example of her company's sheer incompetence and repeated poor service. I invited her to review the bill and observe that the phone was not so much as powered "on," let alone used at any point during the billing cycle.

"I have to transfer you," she finally said.

"Of course you do," I retorted.

Finally I got Cecelia (ID # 729) in Customer Care. I explained the situation, more irate than before. She put me on hold while she "reviewed the situation and made a final decision." Fortunately for all involved she canceled the account (this time, one hopes, for real) and reversed the charges.

HOWEVER . . . because the new billing cycle started January 21, and today is the 27th, I will receive ANOTHER bill for the charges of Jan 21-27. There is nothing she can do about that now; she can make a note on my account and I have to call AGAIN when the next bill comes.

You should see the doodles I made on this bill while I was on hold. Among the nicer things are the little entry I made into the "Amount Paid" column of the "detach and return with your bill" box . . . it says "C-4."

Wednesday, January 19

Wendy's: Where the Magic Word is "No"

"Welcome to Wendy's, would you like to try a combo?"

"Yes, I'd like a number two with no bun and no mayo, with a lemonade to drink." Pause to let her get that. "I would also like a mandarin chi--"

"Wait, I didn't get that. Hold on."

Holding. One, two, three minutes. I could resist. "I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?" Silence.

"Okay, a number two with no mayo and no bun. With what to drink?"

"Lemonade. Also a mandarin chicken salad with a Frosty." [That was for Jared, the nut who wanted a frozen dessert in 20° weather with 3'' of snow on the ground.]

"Chicken salad and what?"

"A Frosty."

"A what?"


"Okay, that'll be [total] at the window, drive around."

"Could you repeat that back to me, please?"

Pause. "No."

At this point we just looked at each other and broke out laughing. Sooooo classic.

"You can't repeat my order?" I asked again. Silence.

WHATEVER. I pulled up. I was greeted with a grunt, paid her, and waited. Drinks handed over. Then she stuck her head out and asked, "Did you want anything on your burger?"

I repeated, "No mayo and no bun."

"Yeah, but do you want the other stuff?" At least she asked.

"No MAYO and no BUN. Everything else is NOT included in 'no mayo,' is it?" (I couldn't help it. Repeated crappy service does this to a person.)

It took awhile, but the food was correct when handed over. I did have to ask for utensils with which to eat my burger. I don't understand-- do they think I'm going to lick it out of the bowl? And for the record, their menu clearly states that low-carb diets can be accomodated by requesting a sandwich without the bun, so this is NOT out of nowhere.

(Also for the record I am not on a low-carb diet, hence my penchant for fries. I breastfeed a baby who is allergic to wheat.)

Next time I am tempted to bring a mini cassette recorder with me so I can upload the evidence. If Crank Yankers made it big . . .

Sunday, January 16

Burger King & Wendy's

I just wanted fries. Mmmmm. BK has the best. So I hit the Burger King drive-thru today. 25 minutes later, I pulled out without having reached the service window or received my food. So did 3 cars behind me. Apparently nobody thought to have the car in front of me pull over while they finished her order. I saw them hand her drinks . . . and five minutes passed. Then they handed her food . . . and apparently something was wrong with the food, because she was trying in vain to get the attention of somebody (anybody) inside the restaurant to come back to the window by honking her horn for another five full minutes. (They just ABANDONED the window.) Then they took back one of her bags, and more time went by . . .

Screw that. Thank goodness their drive-thru is "open" without a curb or anything keeping the cars trapped. On to Wendy's, a few blocks away.

"Welcome to Wendy's, would you like to try a combo?"

"No, but I would like a burger with no bun and no mayo, and a large fry."

"You want a drink with that?"

[Internal monologue: "Why yes, yes I would like a drink to go with my burger and fries, but no, no combo."]

They got the burger right this time, but I did have to beg for a fork, and I didn't get any napkins.

Saturday, January 15

Wow! Starbucks Comes Through

I guess it's only fair to blog the good stuff, too. (That way you can see the pathetic ratio of good:bad customer service.)

Tonight we went through the Starbucks drive-through. I ordered Jared's grande decaf skinny cappuccino (my God did I sound like a yuppy ordering that!) Then I asked for a tall Chantico (the new "liquid drinking chocolate." I felt adventurous. And chocolate-desirous.)

"It only comes in one size, a 6-ounce cup," said the voice. "It's really rich."

"Hmm," I said. "Okay, I lost my nerve. Make it a grande decaf mocha no whip." (YUPPY! For the love of PETE! I even blushed.)

I pulled up to the window and the young man held out a small cup. "Would you like a sample of the Chantico?" he asked. "This is the actual cup size," he explained. I thanked him excessively-- especially when I realized the cup was about 2/3 full. Very nice "sample"!

As we pulled away, Jared said in disbelief, "Wow. That was . . . customer service. I'm not sure how to process this."

"I know!" I exclaimed. "Who AM I?!"

Incidentally . . . screw the mocha. Chantico is bliss!

Friday, January 14

Archives: Cingular, 6 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

Well, FedEx sent me a tracking number today. Seems AT&T/Cingular didn't see fit to ship my Ogo until TODAY. It was supposed to ARRIVE today.

So I got on the phone. Remember, Adrian told me I could simply ask for "Adrian in Customer Care" and speak with him again. So I tried that. The dude on the phone LAUGHED and said, "We have over two thousand call reps here, ma'am." Long story short: he gave me another number to call. When I dialed, I got the "this number is no longer in service" message. Naturally. So I started back at Square One.

Finally got another rep. I calmly but firmly explained that I needed to speak with a manager. After about 40 mins I got Gabrielle.

She was unsympatheic and told me she "couldn't magically make FedEx appear." I said no, but you can further compensate me for this hellish experience. She said, "Look, lady, they already gave you a $25 credit, I'm not about to give it to you free or something."

I said, "What sort of compensation do you think is appropriate then?"

She said, "I can give you 15 courtesy minutes on your cell phone."

HAHAHA. I said, "I am not trying to get something for nothing. I am trying to be compensated for poor customer service and what is, as far as I'm concerned, false advertising on the website."

I walked her through it and she saw the promo herself.

She said, "Oh, well, I can't speed up shipping NOW, and I can't compensate you for free shipping."

I said, "What holds the company accountable, then? What keeps Cingular from offering deals on their website and not following through?"

"Oh, well, I can offer feedback to the web designers."


I said to her, "Obviously, since Adrian offered me compensation he felt was appropriate, but you aren't, it's a matter of discretion. I would just like to make it clear that after 5 days and 3 hours on the phone, complete with dropped calls, downed systems, and an order that STILL has not arrived, I am extremely unhappy with your company. I am giving you the opportunity to give me another $25 credit and mollify me slightly. If you are unwilling to do that, I will cancel two cell phones, which is $100 a month, and there will be no $20 Ogo activation fee and no $18 a month Ogo monthly fee. So, for your discretion in not crediting me $25, your company will be losing almost $120 a month. Just to be clear."

She said, "That's fine ma'am, I'm sorry you're upset."

I said, "What would you do in my position?"

"Well I wouldn't think I deserved a free device, but I guess that's just me."

So I canceled my cell phone and Jared's cell phone, and I guess when my Ogo does finally arrive, I get to kiss it good-bye and sell it on eBay or something. Or maybe I'll keep Ogo but take our phones elsewhere. Or maybe I'll have Jared call and give it his best shot at getting resolution with someone else.

And I don't believe it, but my baby's diaper leaked as I was typing this and that nice warm sensation is spreading aaaaaall over my lap.

Archives: Cingular, 5 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

Well, I finally got things "resolved." My Ogo (singular) will ship tomorrow and arrive Thursday. They gave me half off the promo price ($25) and activation WILL be $19.99. This according to Adrian. If it doesn't happen, Adrian's in biiiiig trouble!

Archives: Cingular, 3 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

Ha ha ha. I can't even think of a witty way to preface this!

So of course nobody ever called me back yesterday. I don't know why I thought they would. Ha ha ha! Holiday optimism?

Oh well. I decided to live with the stupid charge on the debit instead of credit since it was past the time they overnighted it anyway. That's part of the deal, you see-- free overnight FedEx.

Well, FedEx hasn't shown up today. And when I check the status of my order online, it says my order is "being processsed" and "will ship on or before Saturday." PARDON ME? Furthermore, it says that there will be a "$36 activation fee" when the website CLEARLY says it's only $19.99 to activate.

So 40 minutes ago I pick up the phone and call Cingular. I immediately ask to speak to a manager, telling her that so far, seven people and the Internet have failed me, so rather than be frustrated with her, I can take out my anger on somebody in a position to rectify the situation.

Still no manager. But I have been transferred twice and disconnected once (fortunately for my sanity, she had pulled up my phone account info and called back on my cell phone, rather than make ME call THEM yet AGAIN.) I am on hold now. I have given my web order number three times. When she finally said, "Okay Mrs. Clarke, I have Adrian on the line to discuss your order," Adrian did not answer. HE got disconnected. On hold again.

Now he just picked up and said, "Yes, your order is currently being processed. You can actually check this online, you know." I explained I know, it should be SHIPPED already, and told him a bit of my difficulties-- how the phone order didn't work, either. At which point he informs me . . . actually that order DID go through, he can see it on my account! So when I called back the first time and they told me the lady "didn't do it correctly," they didn't know what they were talking about. Now I have two Ogos being processed and not shipping per the promo.

I just asked to speak to a supervisor. Closing in on 60 minutes for this particular phone call, not counting yesterday's 30+ minutes and the hour+ from the day before.

Shoot me.

Archives: Cingular, 4 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

I had to call back today to cancel the order I put on my debit card and place a new on on the CC per Jared's wish. After 15 minutes, the THIRD person I got transferred to informed me that the system was down and told me to call back in an hour! I stopped being the polite long-suffering customer and told him I knew it wasn't his fault personally but this was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS and demanded to talk to a supervisor.

I never did get the supervisor, but he took my name and number and said THEY would call back ASAP rather than have me call to check back/wait on hold. However, it's now 2:30 (closer to two hours, 2.5 hours now) and because Ogo has next-day shipping, I'm sure it'll be too late by the time they call back. Whatever.

Archives: Cingular, 2 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

Well, I went back to the website-- credit card said no, debit card said no. So then I tried Jared's debit card, which is linked to the same account but ends in 4 different numbers, and it went through!

However, Jared is mad b/c we're still on a paycheck lag and he wanted me to put it on credit, NOT debit, so tomorrow I get to call and cancel the order, then reorder using the CC . . . AUGH!!!!!!

Archives: Cingular, 1 of 6

--Some of you may recall my AT&T/Cingular saga. I have decided it is too good to waste away in the archives of the message board where it was originally posted. Join me for my trip down Memory Lane. Bring an umbrella. With me, it never rains but pours.--

Jared consented to letting me get my wireless IM gadget for Christmas (Ogo.) They are having an online special: only $50. Well . . . the website kept giving me errors ("WE CANNOT PROCESS YOUR ORDER AT THIS TIME. YOUR NAME MAY NOT HAVE NUMBERS IN IT.") Um, well, no, I didn't type M35AN CLARK3 or anything, so that is NOT it. Then it told me my credit card was declined (which it should NOT be) so I tried again with the debit card and it said they were still having problems and to call THIS NUMBER.

I dialed THIS NUMBER. I got a message saying their service line was closed, call back tomorrow.

I tried the website again. This time it said YOU DID NOT ENTER THE ZIP CODE OF THE AREA IN WHICH YOU WISH TO RECEIVE SERVICE. Well, it didn't ASK for that information! This time it gave ANOTHER number, which I called.

The person answers. I explain, "I want to buy an Ogo but the website gives me errors and tells me to call this number." "Okay, let me transfer you to the person who can help you," he says.

You guessed it. The next person to answer the phone is NOT the right person. He transfers me.

So do the next TWO people.

Finally I get someone who says she can help me. She pulls up my account information (I have an existing phone account with them, as does Jared.) She types and asks for my area code. "310?" she repeats. "No, 410," I correct. "Okay, do you know what city that's out of?" (Internal monologue: Do I KNOW? Do I KNOW what city I live in? Um, yes.) "Baltimore."

"Okay . . . do you know what state that's in?"

(Internal monologue: YOU DON'T?!) "Maryland."

"Okay." Pause. Asks me how many accounts I want (one) and which IM provider (Yahoo.) She is MUMBLING through half of this and I keep asking her to repeat herself. Finally I said, "I'm sorry, it's difficult to understand you. You're not speaking very clearly."

"I know," she replies. Um, WTF?! OHHHHHHkay.

Then she says, "Okay, I'm going to transfer you over the the recurrent billing department to set up your billing." Click, click.

Recording welcomes me to Ogo recurrent billing. Please enter my confirmation number.

Um . . . confirmation number? She didn't give me ANY information. I hit 0 for Operator. Nothing. I wait, hoping a real person will help me. Nope. The recording explains that I must call back when I have my confirmation number and . . . disconnects me.

So I dial back. This time I get transferred to three live people, the third of which informs me that, looking at my account, there is NO Ogo attached to it, so apparently the Clueless Mumbler "placed the order incorrectly." At this point I exclaimed, "I know it's not YOUR fault, but for heaven's sake, I am trying to give your company my MONEY and they are NOT making it easy on me!" She sympathized, "I know-- and you are not the first person to complain."

Anyway, she put me on hold to try and reach the correct department to place the order . . . after a long pause (at this point I have now been on the phone for 17 minutes AFTER being disconnected AFTER finally getting to the Clueless Mumbler AFTER at least 20 minutes of random, useless transfers to people in the wrong departments) . . . she comes back and informs me that the service department has JUST CLOSED FOR THE DAY and I will have to call back tomorrow.

--To Be Continued...

Thursday, January 13

A Regular Offender: Wendy's

I probably eat at Wendy's far too often. That notwithstanding, tonight we drove through for our dinner. (Desperately in need of a supermarket trip. I digress.)

I ordered my usual: burger combo, no bun and no mayo. I peeked into the bag to make sure things looked correct (fast peek, I saw mine was in the little pastic bowl rather than a wrapper, which is half the battle) and asked for a fork as well. She looked confused. I said, "A fork? To eat the bunless burger?" She said, "Huh?" I repeated, "A FORK please?" She said, "I heard you," and handed me a fork. (Well gee, I guess I thought "Huh?" indicated, well, "huh.")

We got home, where I discovered that apparently "no mayo" means no mayo, no ketchup, no mustard, no onion, no pickle, no lettuce, and no tomato. We were not amused.