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December 30, 2011 / themrtinney

Customer Service… or… My name is Michael, can i chelp you?

I am a patient person.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my lovely wife .  I did, however, one day meet my ultimate match. Just when I thought surviving some of the big, blockbuster patience tests of life assured me a place in the “Can’t Rattle Me Hall of Fame,” I met:

1-800 Customer Service Personnel Hell  <insert dramatic music here>

I have endured many patience tests over the years, including, but not limited to:

1.  The United States Military Service well-known for making us stand in line for two-hundred hours in order to obtain anything lasting less than 13 seconds, including complete meals. Also known as the “hurry-up-and-wait” system.

2.  My daughter when she was 3-4 years old.  Yes, believe it or not, hearing “no!” six-hundred times per hour in a high-pitched screech does try the staying power eventually.

3.  The Neighbor War of 2006, another article in itself, but suffice it to say that the neighbor’s army of dogs are all finally gone and my wife’s criminal record remained clean, though it was a close call!

4.  Flat tires multiple

5.  Bad drivers daily

6.  Life in general

However:  I may have met my match!  I discovered the one thing that can, and will, cause me to actually yell at someone through the phone.  I have found that one particular call where you are relieved that you cannot actually physically reach the person on the other end of the line because murder is illegal in most states and India.  DIRECTV once assaulted me with:

THE $4.00 OVERDUE BALANCE, PHONE MARATHON, EXTRAVAGANZA! (movie rights are available for a fee)

To make this easy to understand, I have set up the following short list of events leading up to this overdue balance so that we can concentrate on the actual effort taken to remove it:

1.  Ordered expensive pay-per-view MONTHS before

2.  Pay-per-view never actually came on the television despite a phone call actually lasting longer than the event itself with “tech support” person who kept saying “are you sure you can’t see it?” over and over.

3.  Promised credit to account for total amount.

4.  After not receiving credit two months in a row and being told it was “pending” by operator numbers 1034, 4458, and 8288 respectively, was charged late fee for not paying the “overdue” amount relating to said “unapplied” credit.

5.  Whopping overdue fee? $2.00 per month

I then spent approximately one day of my life, if you count all of the calls, hold-times, and tech support from the actual first night, trying to basically avoid this $4.00 fee.  Why not just give in you ask?  Why not just pay the stinking $4.00 you might wonder?

I have an easy answer:  I don’t know.

I digress.  The menu system when you call DIRECTV is a typical one where you can choose “one of the following options” at any time.  However, it is worthy to note that:

1.  You cannot, at any time, actually choose good ‘ole zero for an operator; and

2.  You cannot, at any time, breath or otherwise make a sound because the system is also a “speak to me” system.  If you fart during the call, you will end up with a pay-per-view movie.  Don’t fart.

What this means, for those of you who are not mute, don’t have zero children, no animals, or never breath out of your face, is that some noise, cough, or scream from any neighboring house causes the voice activated system to take over.  The following is what occurs when this happens:

System:  “Hello, and thank you for calling…”

Me:  Small cough

System:  “OK.  You said you want to order Girls Gone Wild? Is this correct?”

Me:  What?  Hello?

System:  “OK.  Can I help you with anything else?”

Me:  No!  I mean Yes!  I don’t want that!

System:  “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that?”

Me:  Operator!

System:  “OK.  But before I connect you with an operator who can assist you, please provide the phone number of the billing account”

Me:  ###-###-####

System:  “You said 334 892-0099, is that correct?”

Me:  Huh?  (Child says something about chocolate milk in the background)

System:  “OK.  That’s Hot Chocolate Babes on channel 150 for $69.95.  Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

After saying “Operator” four hundred twenty-two times in sixteen different call attempts during which everyone in my home is playing “freeze and shut up,” I finally got Otto on the phone.  Good ole Otto! My buddy from, as he said it, “cruchtomer serbice”:

Otto:  “Tank you for calling DirecTV, how may a chelp ju?”

Me:  You guys keep charging me an overdue fee even though I have a credit pending.

Otto:  “Ok. Let me look at your achount Mr. Trimey, sir.  Can I am pleasing to place you on hold pleasing?”


Otto:  “Ok Mr. Trimey, it appears dis credit has been akplyed to chor achounting.  Is there anything elsing I can service to you this day?”

Me:  Huh?

Otto:  “The credit has been akplyed to chor achounting.  OK?”

Me:  Are you sure, because the last seventeen people have told me the same thing.

Otto:  “What?”

Me:  Huh?!

Otto:  Click

Otto did not get the credit applied.  Neither did “Robert”, who’s accent was so severe he confused himself, “Susie” who’s English resembled someone running on a treadmill set on nine while talking, or “Bill” who understood only the word “credit” and hung up on me in frustration.  Sorry about that Bill.

I ultimately, after several attempts, got Oliver on the phone.  Oliver spoke in a clear voice I could understand, apologized on behalf of DirecTV, and presumably, Otto, Robert, Susie, and Bill as well.  I’m not sure how I got Oliver, who was somewhere in Texas, I belive.  I fumbled through the “speak” system to get him by continually chanting “Billing Department” for several minutes and hiding in my office.  I found if you yell “Billing Department” intermittently while placing your hand on and off the receiver speaker you will:

1.  Get through eventually and get an “Oliver” vice a “Susie”

2.  Get a hand cramp

3.  Get interesting looks from your co-workers

If I have learned anything from this experience, it’s these three things in particular:

1.  I hate automated systems and the person who created them

2.  Their stance on outsourcing U. S. Jobs overseas is now one of my major considerations for picking candidates in any political race

3.  I have a headache

So.. the next time you call one of these automated systems and hear the “speak” system take over, remember this important fact:  you are screwed.

G bye


Leave a Comment
  1. super / Dec 31 2011 7:33 pm

    You sound like you have anger issues. Hope you get those worked out.

    Try some therapy. If you have issues with $4, traffic, and neighbors, THOSE ARE RED FLAGS. It is not Them, it is YOU.

    • mrtinney / Dec 31 2011 7:48 pm

      Comments, positive or not, always welcome… there may be therapy for the humorless as well.

  2. super / Dec 31 2011 11:24 pm


    I am totally humorous. I also do not care either way about $4 (I would change providers), my neighbors like me (I talk to them honestly, and accept that everyone has the right to live as they wish), and have no concern about traffic (when I see angry and aggressive drivers, I pity them for their ignorance and angry nature).

    get help,


    • mrtinney / Dec 31 2011 11:30 pm

      You do not strike me as humorous when being so serious about a humor blog. Perhaps BC is more serious now than when I last visited. Try some Seinfeld episodes or Monty Python to loosen up. <> Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

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