I know that someday you'll find better things.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Highway Robbery

Among the many joys of living in the thriving metropolis of North Texas is our toll-road system. For the most part, the two main toll roads are state-of-the-art superhighways with speed limits of 70+ miles an hour with nary another vehicle in sight. If your timing is just right, it’s the equivalent of the Autobahn mixed with a closed-course car commercial. The reason it’s such a dreamy, lonely driving track is the hefty cost to use it. Picking up company at the airport? Nine dollars. Delivering out-of-town guests back to the airport? Nine again. Did I mention that the airport is only thirty minutes away?

This is truly highway robbery.

After procrastinating as long as I possibly could—mostly on principle, because I just can’t wrap my mind around paying those huge fees to a website that ends in .org-- I finally had to bite the bullet and get current on my account.

I tried to login to the webpage (stupid .org) but unfortunately, I guessed my password incorrectly one time too many.

Security question? Favorite song.
What year did I establish this count? Was that during my rap phase?
Nevermind. Time to reset.

Creating a new password was a rare and special variety of hell:

Your new password must be 8-15 characters.
It must include a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and at least one of the following symbols: @#$%*.

Oh, I’ll give you @#$%* all right.

The instructions continued.

For maximum security strength, consider using a phrase with personal and significant meaning.
Note: please do not use the examples listed above. Doing so may compromise the security of your account.

Oh good grief.

Once THAT was done, I was prompted to make changes to my account.
Did I have any vehicles to add? Why yes, I do. Click, click. Enter. Submit.
Your new tolltag should arrive in 7-10 business days.


Did you need to update your account info?
Hmm. Let’s see.
Oh, schnitzel. Old address! Old last name!
My mind went bonkers imagining the trouble a scoundrel could cause using MY new tolltag.

I had no choice but to call the company.

Every time I’ve ever called the toll tag customer service line--which is twice, I think--the wait to speak to a representative exceeded forty minutes. This is where my procrastination was going to pay off, though, for today was a special day: Election Day. Surely the masses would be so busy waiting in line at the polls that they wouldn’t have time to trifle with the tolltag folks. THIS was going to be my reward for early voting, I was sure of it.

And it was.
I was only on hold for 21 minutes.

Most people are probably not this enthusiastic about speaking with a customer service department. For the last decade, it seems like our society’s biggest gripe in customer service calls has been the strong accent of the representative. As so often happens with cultural-trends-cum-stereotypes, radio DJs snark about it and Saturday Night Live pokes fun, and eventually somebody (usually Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler) makes a movie about it. (Actually, this time, Josh Hamilton starred in the movie. The film Outsourced was a tender, touching little comedy with far more heart and compassion than its NBC spinoff series of the same name.)

My customer service representative spoke English without even a trace of an accent.
He had a deep, rich, beautiful voice.
I could barely understand a word he was saying.

Barry White’s voice is a full octave higher than this man’s. My phone could not sort out the sounds of the words, and huge chunks of his sentences blended together in a deep, fog-horn bellow. I wasn’t sure what to do. Accents and lisps can be blamed on technical difficulties (“I’m very sorry, my phone seems to be cutting out. Could you repeat that, please?”) but in this case, it didn’t matter how many times he repeated himself, this difficulty was going to continue.

I did the only thing I could do. I tried to use context clues and logic to respond to each request.
In short, I guessed.

“Could I have your hhhmmmppphhmmm-ber?”
“Sure. Is it somewhere here on the statement?”
“No, ma’am. Your hhhmmmppphhmmm-ber.”
“Whoops, sorry. It’s 214…”
“Ma’am, your driver’s hhhmmmppphhmmm-ber.”
“Oh, of course! My apologies. I just don’t know where my mind is today.”

It was a very long and awkward conversation. He was very patient and professional the entire time.

After our call ended, my thoughts of this mysterious baritone brother persisted.

Surely I can’t be the only one who had this type of encounter with him. Are there people out there who ask to speak to a different agent? Are there letter-writers who complain to his supervisor?

My prediction is that if there are other people like me out there (please let there be others!) who try to limp through the conversation graciously guessing, it must be very frustrating for this fellow. Can’t you picture the conversations in the breakroom?

“Man, what is up with the callers lately? It’s like they don’t know their phone number from their driver’s license number! And it took this one lady six tries to answer me when all I’d asked for was her name…”

And—this is probably not very nice—but for heaven’s sake, no wonder it takes so long on hold if each conversation follows the path that mine did.

No comments:

Post a Comment