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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I'm Pulling My Hair Out Today

I know there are a lot of you who follow my blog just to see what is making me pull my hair out today. Well today's irritant--trying to do the right thing, only to hit a brick wall over and over again.

Like many of you, I pay a lot of my bills online. Today I went to pay one that I knew was due shortly and was surprised to see it said: Amount Due: $0. 

OK, it did not say Total Due $0, just amount due $0. I had not idea why this oddity was occurring so I attempted to call the company. This was my first mistake. It seems companies today have no desire to talk to their customers. Instead they have installed a variety of numbered prompts designed to answer every and any question you might have without having you interact with a real person. OK, I get it, the machine doesn't need health benefits, but still...

Have you tried calling a company with a question lately? Here's what happened. FRUSTRATION! Over and over again, 'push 1' (the number indicated for questions about payments) and it sends me on a runaround through yet more choices with canned responses none of which answered my question: WHY did I have a zero payment due. I was just trying to pay them. But I wanted to know if there had been an error made or if there was a valid reason behind the zero amount. Not an unreasonable thing to ask--but obviously not an option that whoever set up their canned responses had ever considered might be an option needed by their customers.

It told me my balance. It told me my credit limit. It told me my available credit. It even told me what to do if I wanted a larger credit limit. But it still did not answer my question. And there was no option that took me to someone I needed to talk to.

After getting frustrated and finally (OK, I admit I actually did this) yelling into the phone (with all it's canned responses) I finally got a response, 'let me send you to customer service.' THIS was all I wanted to begin with. An ENGLISH speaking representative who had the vaguest idea what was going on. (and believe me the answer was still vague!) I wasn't mad at the customer service rep but I was mad at this company who made it so hard to pay them money!

Yes, I could have simply paid them a 'guess-timated' amount, but I guarantee if I'd done that and it had not been enough, and it was an error, I would have been blamed and charged a 'late fee.' It's just the way it goes.

It seems there were two possible reasons for the $0 amount. One, I'd made a return that was more than the amount of what my payment should have been. Two, they were giving customers in the 'hurricane zone' a month free from payments. If either of these options had been presented as 'if you have a zero listed under amount due it could be because of : .... ' it would have saved me fifteen minutes of frustration and phone bashing. (OK I didn't really bash my phone, but I was AGGRAVATED beyond belief.) Why do they make it so hard to do the right thing?

So if you see a bald woman walking the mall on Black Friday, you'll know it's me. (Or one of the many other people who have run into the 'brick wall of corporate America' when trying to pay a bill online.)

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