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Customer Service - Cardcall rep telling me what I am 'supposed' to do.
July 21, 2003
Today I tried to recharge my calling card. It is a 'Go Talk' phone card, which I believe is owned by a company called 'Cardcall.' I dialed the access number I normally use and entered my PIN. The computer told me my balance was something like 19 cents. It said to press 1 to recharge or 2 to make a call. I pressed 1. After waiting on hold for a minute or so I heard a recording say 'two minutes.' I assumed this meant the approximate waiting time till I would be able to talk to someone. I thought to myself, 'Ah, they have finally added that option so you won't have to wait in line without having any idea of how long it will be till you get a live person.' Some companies have this option and I have suggested it to the Cardcall employees several times. I thought maybe my suggestions helped change things, and this was a satisfying feeling.
I put the phone down and did a few things. I came back and waited a while and it said '30 seconds.' I was beginning to wonder what this meant. I didn't think a computer would be so precise as to be able to predict the hold time this closely. Also, it didn't say 'The estimated wait time is..', it just said, '30 seconds.'
It sounded almost like it was telling me I only had 30 seconds worth of time left on my calling card, but I was waiting for customer service, not making a long distance call, so this didn't make sense. Then it said something like 'I'm sorry your account balance has been exceeded' and I was disconnected. I called back using their 800 number.
In Australia they have '1 800' free call numbers and they also have '1 300' numbers that are charged at a single flat rate. For example, if you want to call QANTAS airlines, the leading airline here, you have to dial a 1 300 number. This number will cost you a flat 40 cents at a pay phone. If you are at a payphone and you don't have 40 cents, you can't call QANTAS or a lot of other large companies whose executives are making hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars a year.
The first time I called Cardcall to recharge my card, I used the 1 300 number. Cardcall has three price structures, depending on which access number you use. The cheapest rates are with local numbers, which they have for cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra etc. The next cheapest rates are using the 1 300 number which you would use if you have 40 cents and are in a little town out in the boonies. I am not even in a little town out in the boonies. I am further out than that! So I have to use the 1 300 number. If you don't have 40 cents you have to use the 1 800 number, but it is a lot more expensive. There is a surcharge of something like 18 cents. That makes a call to Canada about three times as expensive for me, so I avoid it like the plague.
Because the 1 300 number costs a flat rate, I decided to call back and try to recharge my card with the 1 800 and not enter my pin. This way I wouldn't pay for the call in any way. When I did this, I asked about the previous call and what the 'two minutes,' then '30 seconds' thing was. I was told that, indeed, I was being charged to wait on the line for customer service so I could recharge my card! She sounded apologetic about it though and quickly said she would be happy to give me credit. I suspect they are told to do this because so many people scream about what I might call 'sneaky little trick'.
After she recharged my card, I said, 'You know this idea of charging me to wait for customer service so I can recharge my card is still bothering me. Could I talk to a supervisor?' She said sure and soon a woman answered. This is when it got more interesting.
I started out by asking if the first woman had explained my concern. The woman, who called herself Tanya Jones, a name I suspect is one they just give to the irate customers, immediately attacked me by saying, 'Yes, she said you called the wrong number.'
I was quickly put on the defensive by this. I said just somewhat sarcastically, 'I called the wrong number?'
Now let me explain this again, because it might be a bit confusing.
I originally called the 1 300 number. Actually it is 1 300 30 20 50. This costs me a flat rate of 40 cents from a payphone or about 25 from my home phone. I intended to recharge card, and then stay on the line and make a long distance call. I knew that the computer would tell me that I only had a little money left on the account and ask me to press 1 if I wanted to recharge. I did want to recharge, so I am not sure why TJ said that I called the 'wrong' number. But I know that I felt attacked and offended from her first few words to me.
I decided to start making notes as we spoke. I am so fed up with this kind of treatment from people who are paid to be in the customer service business! And I am hoping, one day, some huge company, will say, 'Gosh, this guy has some good points, let's hire him to give some customer service training about how not to offend and piss off customers.' Then I can take the money and help some more teens.
So anyhow, here is more of our conversation.
Tanya tells me that I am 'supposed to' to call the 1 800 number. 'Supposed to?', I ask. I am thinking, what am I, in kindergarten? (Or highschool, given that most teenagers seem to be treated about like 5 year olds.) She went on to say, 'Yes, you are not supposed to use the 1 300 number to recharge the card.' So am I a naughty boy now, because I did something I wasn't 'supposed' to do?
I was having a hard time believing she was using words like that. After we hung up I was thinking, 'I hope you don't have kids....'
Then she gave me a lecture about how it tells you what to do on the back of the card. I tell her that when a customer calls the 1 300 number and it asks if you want to recharge your card, it would be nice if they would tell you that you are going to have to pay for the time you are on hold and talking to the person who takes your credit card number.'
Then we debated about this for a while and she asks me defensively, 'Well, what do you want us to do?'
'I'd like you to change your system.'
'We can't do that.'
Shortly after that she says, in an interrogating tone, 'Why are you using the 1 300 number to make your calls?'
I tell her I am starting to feel a little defensive.
She says, 'I'm not... I am just asking why you are using the 1 300 number.'
Then I add that I feel a little underestimated. I asked if she thinks I would be using it if I didn't have to. She says, 'Whereabouts are you calling from?'
Then I ask if I can talk to her supervisor. She says, 'I am the supervisor.' lol
So I ask her in a different way and she says, 'She is not available.' (They almost never are! - Telstra, by the way, the main Australian phone company tells its employees to say 'There are none here.')
So I get the supervisor's name, Patricia, and her title, Customer Service Manager. Then I say thank you and good bye.
Maybe I will email this to them and see if anyone writes back.