Recently, we made what may or may not have been an incredibly terrible decision to switch from our satellite provider to :::gasp::: cable. And if you’re keeping up with the news and the corporate monopoly that is your cable and internet provider, you probably have an idea of who now has our service. But, for the sake of my head not exploding with rage and the avoidance of a lawsuit, the service provider shall remain nameless.
We switched because for the next two years (yes, a contract, I am aware of the red flags) we’ll save $120 a month, and after that, we’ll still be saving $80 a month. Of course I attempted to negotiate a similar savings with our satellite and (separate) internet provider, but they just couldn’t match this. And so, after an eight year affair with DirecTV, we broke up…I still have a case of the sads.
It’s been 30 days of cable, and after my first “customer service” experience, I can fully understand why we’re saving the money we are…there is no customer service.
Look, I work for Corporate America, so I am familiar with the complaints of clients and consumers when they feel whoever they are trying to call has gotten “too big.” Our company went through a merger in 2009; some clients thought it was awesome, some thought it was sucky, and some thought it was just another corporate conspiracy. As an employee, I can tell you that for the most part, bigger is better (TWSS) because it equates to better benefits, a pension plan, and eight weeks of maternity leave, among other things. But on the client side, I understand that loss of a “personal touch.” And after dealing with the Cthulhu of customer service, I totally get it.
Part of the problem with today’s world is the lack of human interaction (hence Cthulhu). We needed some help with ordering a movie. I tried to find out what the error code meant (answer: it means there is an error with your system) and with no luck, I thought I’d try giving them a call. It was 8pm on a Saturday night, meaning the window of time to order and watch a movie was dwindling for those of us who go to bed at a normal time (kids, remember?) An analyst would be happy to assist me…after the estimated wait time of three hours. THREE HOURS? Either there’s a mass outage of service, a million other people who want to watch “Runner Runner”, or you have two people working the Saturday night shift. Spoiler alert: two is an overestimate.
I decided against having an actual conversation, and opted for the online chat. The wait time was considerably less at a mere 45 minutes. The window to watch a movie continued to narrow.
We finally connected with an analyst, who was as helpful as…what’s the phrase…tits on a boar? Yeah, that helpful. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling of the words of wisdom we received:
Analyst: “We will need to send a reset signal to your device. There are occasions where this can take additional time for the box to receive the signal. This is because of the length of time it takes the signal to reach your box.” (Did your eyes just glaze over reading that?)
Analyst: “May I have your callback number? I may need to escalate your request to the highest department of escalations, and a network engineer will resolve the matter.” (I am convinced “Escalations” is a book the in Cable Bible, and it comes right before the book of PLEASE CANCEL MY CONTRACT!)
I was also given helpful advice on how to reset our cable box (answer: unplug it from the wall…that’s a good sign, right?)
I gave up. I abandoned the chat (still in process). We watched Food Network and I went to bed. The next day, we ordered the movie. Additional spoiler alert: save your $5.99, unless you like seeing Ben Affleck with an insanely awesome spray tan.
The lack of human interaction today has led to these situations. And it’s most certainly not limited to customer service; when I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see posts from friends and family that I haven’t spoken with (we’re talking actual words) in months, some even years. These are people who, before social media, I would have connected with on a semi-annual basis. But it’s so much easier to click “like” or to type “LOL” and move on with your day, right? I mean, you made an effort, so that counts for something…right?
No, it doesn’t. It’s one thing to keep up with friends and family via social media, but when it becomes your only source of interaction, there’s a problem. Posting “Happy Birthday” on someone’s wall isn’t the same as sending them a card or – heaven forbid – picking up the phone and calling them. Are we so busy that we can’t even call each other? We must resort to a text message? A wall post? An Instagram photo? We’re only as busy as we make ourselves; if I have time to watch an hour of HGTV, then I most certainly have time to make a couple phone calls or drop a card in the mail.
As we watch Miles grow and learn new things, we are filled with excitement…and at the same time, I’m sad for the friends and family who aren’t getting to witness this in person. Not for those who are spread far and wide; where traveling isn’t an option. For that we have Skype, and I am thankful. But for those who are within driving distance, watching photos and videos on Facebook, while acceptable, just isn’t enough. When we were kids, we spent time with aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors and friends. We made time. And we want our children to experience the same joy that comes with spending a Sunday afternoon with loved ones.
Don’t be a Cthulhu. Get out from behind your screen, laptop, tablet and phone, and make time for each other. Days are rapidly passing, and I wouldn’t want to look back and have a single regret when it comes to spending time with the ones we love.