Monday morning, I picked up our wireless landline phone to make a call. No dial tone. It sounded as if one of us had accidentally forgotten to hang up. I checked around the house, but our other two wireless phones were in place, and none had a dial tone. So I made the call on my cellphone, then forgot about it until later in the day, when I wanted to make another call.
This time, I called Verizon on my cell. And got stuck with the automated “assistant.” It asked me a few questions to determine the extent of the problem, tested our line remotely and set up a repair visit. The earliest date? Thursday.
Now, I’m fortunate to have a mobile phone. What about people who don’t? Plenty of folks rely on cell phones for all of their telephone communication. But not all. If I didn’t have a cell, and I didn’t have Internet, I would have no way to get in touch with Verizon to report the problem—or any other problem, for that matter, like a medical emergency.
Not long after I set up the repair visit, I decided to check the phone line. By a miracle, the dial tone had returned! So I went online and canceled the repair visit. Picked up the phone to make a call and . . . heard a high-pitched busy signal. Aaargh!
So, back on my cell, I called Verizon. Of course, now they had a record that I’d called and resolved the prior repair issue. “We’re sorry that you’re still having problems,” oozed the automated voice. It recommended trying to test the system ourselves, to save the cost of a service call, because now their remote test indicated that the problem involved internal wiring (before, the issue was external). I was getting more and more frustrated. The steps involved unplugging all our phone jacks, and then systematically testing them with a “corded phone.”
Who has a corded (aka old fashioned, non-wireless) phone lying around the house, these days? Fortunately, yours truly is a pack rat, and I actually had one stashed away in my closet. We tested the line. Still the annoying busy signal. I marched back to my desk and once again called Verizon on my cell. This time, I was literally yelling at the auto assistant, trying to get it to send me to a human being. After another five minutes of annoying questions, the same routine I’d gone through twice before, it connected me to a nice customer service rep in Albany, N.Y. (I assume he told me his location to assure me I wasn’t being farmed out to an international call center, a fascinating response to current politics—but I digress).
While he couldn’t really give me any more information than the auto assistant, at least he was pleasant, attentive, and able to hear the annoying busy signal when I held the land line up to my cell. He also could answer my questions about charges for any repair visit. Still had to wait until Thursday, but so be it.
Within about an hour of that call, our phone rang. The line was crackling, but it worked. Another hour later, it rang again, with a Verizon recording to see if our phone issue had resolved or if we still needed the appointment. The line was crystal clear. I cancelled the repair.
Thank goodness it’s fixed. But I still wonder about the person who can’t wait three days to have phone service restored, if the issue can’t be fixed remotely. What about older adults who may not be adept with mobile phones or able to afford them? What about people with health challenges that can’t wait? I wonder if the line was repaired remotely within a few hours only because I pushed back against the automated system to get through to a flesh-and-blood service rep?
Customer service is no service at all if it ignores the real needs of the customer. Are you listening, Verizon?