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« Another CFA Post | Main | So It Begins... »

Customer Service

The weather's still muggy, but now the monsoons are a little less reliable. So now, it's the triple threat: heat and humidity, and you still have to run the sprinklers.

Apparently, the Sprint-Nextel merger isn't going so well. I went to the Sprint website to pay the bill, and found that while Sprint may have known who I was, Sprint-Nextel had apparently come down with corporate Alzheimer's and I had to re-register. All of which went fine. Except they have you enter your password, and your Social Security Numberin the clear. Apparently, it hasn't occurred to the people who run the company that someone might try to use their wireless internet card to pay their bill, you know, in a public place.

Then, the dreaded, "Double Secret Probation Security Question." You get to choose your question, so I picked, "First Elementary School." Answer: Mosby Woods. Evidently, whatever software, and I use that term advisedly, they're using to run this website, thinks that a space is a special character, which rules out something like half the schools in the country. "Street where you grew up" isn't much better, but since the name of that street was "Northwood-that's-one-word-northwood," I took it.

You get a confirmation text message, enter the secret code telling you to drink Ovaltine, and you're resgisered! Here's the text of the message I got:

Subject: --- Put the subject of the mail here --- ---Put the body here and put a 'VqBvGKmk' where the validation code goes----

How these people survived Y2K without routing all of our calls through Russia is a deep, deep mystery.

So, I decided to call customer service, figuring that of all companies whose bills I could pay by phone, the phone company would be one. Guess again.

Remember that sketch where Mike Nichols tries to get a phone number from Elaine May? This was about the same. *4, Account Information, wanted a PIN, and cut me off when I couldn't remember it. *2, Customer Service did the same, but referred me to *3, Bill Pay.

Which also required the PIN Which Cannot Be Named. And this time, finally, I got to talk to a real person. Who asked for the phone number. And my name.

And the PIN.

It took rounds with two other customer service people before I found someone who could override the damn computer and take the payment for my bill. Yes, remember? They were sufficiently determined not to take my money that they turned what should have been a five minute job into a half-hour adventure.

People, if anyone reading this is in charge of customer service, don't do this.

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