Marketing Propaganda != Customer Service

May 10, 2006

Last month I blundered and ordered a new phone from Amazon before determining if I could transfer my existing cell phone account to it. The terms of the offer, when I bothered to read them, specifically said the phone was for new service only. As soon as the phone arrived I return shipped it to Amazon; without even opening the box. It turns out that returning the phone and canceling the order did not trigger a cancel transaction at Cingular as I got a bill for the new phone number in the mail today.

Calling 611 resolved the issue but not until I had been subjected to over fifteen minutes of marketing propaganda while on ignore. To my way of thinking there are several levels of "Please wait for the next available service representative" hell.

Level 1: Dead Air While you can't always tell if you've been inadvertently cut off, at least you don't have to listen to incipient music, or worse marketing hype.

Level 2: Music This level really breaks down into two sub-levels: music that you can at least tolerate, and music that should be used in those illegal torture locations the US has scattered around the world. If I had wanted to listen to crappy elevator music I'd have gone to Wal-mart.

Level 3: "Please continue to hold as calls are answered in the order received" This really isn't a level as much as it is an extra lobbed into the other levels just to make you think a human has come on to the line to assist you. Every 15 or 30 or 60 seconds the dead air/crappy music stops and you think, "It's finally my turn!" only to realize you've been duped again.

Level 4: Propaganda The worst of the the levels of "I'm-being-punished-for-needing-your-services" hell is the marketing loop. A cheery voice tells you over and over again about all the great services they offer and how you can solve all your problems simply by visiting their web site. Over and over again. Usually the loop has randomly placed gaps to make you think the connection to a live person is going through; but it's just the propaganda reel restarting.

Marketing hype, crappy music, and stupid please continue to hold messages do not equal customer service.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.