Tag Archives: customer service

Slow Slog With Sprint

Frontier is not the only phone company Westporters have issues with.

I should have known things would not go well when I called Sprint this morning to cancel my mother’s service. (She got an easier-to-use phone, not that it matters.)

I punched in her number. A voice chirped, “Sorry! I did not get that!” Which did not instill a lot of confidence in this particular telecommunications company.

After navigating the complex (and repetitive) phone tree, I reached an actual — though heavily accented — human being. When I said I wanted to cancel the service, I was disconnected. Instantly.

downloadI called again. Again, the voice “did not get” the number I punched in. Once again, I eventually was answered by an actual person. Once again, when I said I wanted to cancel, the line mysteriously went dead.

I called a 3rd time. This time, I started by saying I’d been cut off twice by a phone company. The representative apologized, and took my number to call back “in case it happens again.”

I asked how that could possibly happen. She agreed it shouldn’t, but said by way of explanation that all cancellations must be handled by a supervisor. Of course!

I listened to gruesome music for 6 minutes. Then — silence.

Luckily, she had my callback number. Two minutes later, my phone rang.

My mother has a Toyota. Perhaps you've heard of it?

My mother has a Toyota. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

To make sure I was legitimately calling to cancel an account — perhaps this is a wide-ranging scam — she asked for the make of my mother’s car. “Toyota,” I said.

“Can you spell that?” she asked.

NO, I COULD NOT, I replied (yes, using capital letters.) I told her it was like the best-selling car in the world. She let it go.

She assured me I would not be disconnected again. When I asked how long it would take for the supervisor to pick up, she said, “One to 3 minutes.” No problem! That’s a sprint!

Eight minutes later, the music stopped. I was — yet again — disconnected by a telecommunications company.

This time, there was no callback.

Angry businessman killing the phone

I went online. I did not have an account, so I filled out a form. The password I chose was “SprintSucks1.”

The next part of the form was “Set access level.” I was happy to, except:

  1. there was no way to do that, plus
  2. I had no idea what that meant.

I clicked “Help.” A popup message said, “Questions? Check out our support site with answers to your questions 24/7, or chat with us.”

Which I was happy to do. Except, there was no way to access the support site from the page I was on.

Once more — a mere 50 minutes after starting — I called again. I explained everything I had been through since I started calling THIS TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY. 

The representative pretended to be sympathetic. Miraculously, he did not need to contact a supervisor. He could handle this exceptionally difficult request — cancel the service — all by himself.

Which he did, after taking down my callback number just in case we were disconnected.

sprint-tether-hotspot-300x274It was a simple process, with only 8 or 52 repetitive questions.

At last, it was done.

He had just one last question. Would I like an upgrade?

Why not? Yes! Of course!

I want Sprint to upgrade their !@#$%^&* customer service. Just kick it up a notch — from, say, “atrocious” to “abysmal” — and I’ll be ecstatic.

But I sure won’t call back to tell them that.

Lost In Cyberspace

It’s my own fault for calling Cablevision about my email account on a weekend.

But a while ago — solving another issue — a technician told me that my “Optimum account” was not linked to my “Optimum ID.” He said that, to avoid a problem in the future, I should take care of that little issue.

Which I did last Saturday, around 4 p.m.

The process went swimmingly.

Until it didn’t.

Suddenly — in mid-linkage — the tech support guy could not seal the deal. Something had happened in cyberspace, he said, and it would have to be solved by someone higher up.

Unfortunately, those people did not work weekends.

However, the tech guy assured me chirpily, he was sure it would be taken care of. In 2 to 3 days. That is, “business days.” Meaning, oh, 4 days from then.

Until then, also unfortunately, I would not have access to email.

For someone who fields 200 or so emails a day — many of them business-related — this was not good.

In fact, this was very, very bad.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. The tech guy gladly got rid of me connected me to one.

Me, if I weighed 150 pounds more than I do.

This man — his name was Akinola — was sympathetic. Still, he said — I could almost see him shaking his head — this issue would unfortunately not be resolved this weekend. He understood that I was a loyal Cablevision customer — I was among the 1st dozen or so cable modem subscribers, when such a thing came to Westport around 1997, and I’ve been a cable TV customer since 1983 — but this was beyond his control. The best he could do was make sure it was taken care of early on Monday.

I asked to speak to his supervisor.

Which is when Stacie Serrano entered my life.

She understood the problem. She understood that Cablevision bore some responsibility for screwing up a relatively simple operation in midstream. She understood that I was angry, frustrated, anxious, and not a happy camper.

And — you don’t find this often in customer service stories — she set about to help.

I don’t know how she did it, but she found someone who — though this was not a “business day” — was actually working. Then — instead of just handing the case off to someone who may or may not have cared — she kept on him.

Me, at 10 p.m. Saturday.

And — are you sitting down? — Stacie called back several times to update me on Cablevision’s progress. So too did my new friend, Akinola.

By 10 p.m., the problem was solved. My account and ID number were now, apparently, linked. More importantly, I once again had access to email.

Well, most of it. Anything sent between 4 and 10 p.m. Saturday was apparently lost in cyberspace. I was assured it would turn up soon in Cablevision’s lost-and-found.

So this is one of those rare stories: the consumer equivalent of snow in October (it happens). This is a public thank-you to Cablevision, for outstanding customer service. And a hug — through the interwebs — to Stacie Serrano.

PS: 24 hours later, my missing emails came through. Well, most of them, anyway.

Great Customer Service (Jewelry Store)

blog - watchMy watch crystal broke, so I went to the jeweler I always use:  Francois Du Pont, on Main Street.

It’s changed owners and is now called Pandora Jewelers, which shows you how often I go downtown.  But that’ s not the point.

The owner could not replace it.  Yet rather than stopping there and sending me away, he directed me to New England Jewelers.  Then he made sure I knew where it was:  a few steps up the street, down the stairs just before J. Crew.

He didn’t have to send me to a competitor — a store that might treat me so well, I’d always go back.

He didn’t have to.

But he did.

One More Great Customer Service Story

Several years ago, the mother of a Staples athlete volunteered to help sell team t-shirts as a fundraiser.  Naturally, she went on the internet; isn’t that where you find the best deals?

Sure enough, internet vendors sold shirts for $3.49.  But — surprise! — there were other charges:  design, set-up, shipping, you name it.

AThletic Shoe FactorySo the team mom checked out Athletic Shoe Factory.  Though hers was a low-profile item — nothing like the high-volume gear bought by Westport Soccer Association or PAL football players — manager Chris Buchner spent hours helping the mom with the entire process.  She received more patient help from Tim Nash, ASF’s designer (and a Staples grad) who’s earned praise from teams in countless sports, at many levels.

Recently, I saw ASF’s magic first hand.  Traditionally the Staples soccer captains design their team t-shirt.  Tim worked with our captains to create a compelling look.  It was great on the computer screen — but when the shirts came in they didn’t look right.  Without waiting for a complaint, Chris initiated a fast re-order.  The replacement shirts were in by the start of tryouts.

The start of fall sports — and Homecoming — are crazy times for ASF.  Teenagers order mind-boggling custom shirts and hoodies.  Meanwhile, stressed-out parents and little kids clamor for shoes, shorts and equipment.  ASF is a scene of controlled chaos.  The staff is always cheerful, never harried — and very helpful.

ASF is the 1st business to buy a program ad, donate a raffle prize or do whatever is asked.  The response is the same:   “We’re happy to help.  What else do you need?”

No, ASF’s t-shirts are not $3.49.  Then again, neither are the $3.49 t-shirts on the internet.

And when was the last time any web vendor cared about Westport kids?

asf Hoody

A sample of the logowear designed and sold by ASF.

And One More Great Customer Service Story

blog - Westport Auto CraftI probably drove past Westport Auto Craft 10,000 times without noticing it.

In decades of driving, I never needed a body shop.

This month, I did.

A guy in a leased Lexus hit me on Main Street.  Visions of insurance company hassles and car rental headaches filled my head long before the cop arrived.

A visit the next day to Westport Auto Craft eased my mind completely.

Ron Bowler took care of everything.  He made calls to the Lexus dude’s insurance company — and knew all the secrets (including evading voicemail) to make sure they honored the claim.

He told me I had the right to a rental car, on the other guy’s dime (or hundreds of dollars).  He made sure I got the rental — even calling to arrange for it to be delivered to me when I dropped off my own.

Ron did it all with a smile, and good humor.  And, a few days later — exactly the day he’d promised — he called to say my car was ready.

It was as painless a collision experience as I could imagine.

All except leaving the shop.  Backing out onto busy Riverside Avenue was a near-death experience.

I almost became a return customer, 6 seconds later.

More Great Customer Service

ToyotaToyota of Westport had a checkered reputation.  Some customers swore by them.  Others swore at them.

New owners re-named the dealership “New Country Toyota of Westport” — what is it, an emerging African nation? — but the changes go beyond the front door.

The high, imposing desk that separated service agents — sitting, Oz-like, in their own world — from lowly customers is gone.  In its place are low, friendly desks, the kind bankers now use.  (Not the best analogy, I know, but you get the picture.)

My appointment was 8 a.m.  On the dot, my car was whisked into a bay — another new concept for the dealership.

And not only did service consultant Jessica Sandri arrange a courtesy ride home — she offered to bring me back too.

When I’m ready to buy a new car, I’ll start at New Country.  Unfortunately, thanks to Toyota’s reputation for quality, that will be around 2019.