The advancement of technology has certainly brought us a lot of good stuff in recent years. Unfortunately not all of it is good, and some of it is down right annoying. Take for example the automated customer service systems.
I personally have a love-hate relationship with them, this morning is purely hate.Ã‚Â I'm referring to the systems companies use to cut costs and not have to give you a live person to talk to. Sometimes they're great, you can call your bank punch in your information and do some major transactions, quickly and efficiently. For example Bank of America is awesome at this, I can check my balance, transfer funds, make payments in a matter of a minute or two. Most times I don't ever have to talk to a customer service representative that wants to know how the weather is in California, or what I think of our Governor... but we all know they are just going through standard small-talk questions just to fill in the awkward silence while they look up your account.
The problem comes in when you NEED to talk to a person, and you can't. Going back to Bank of America as an example, they are great at this, at any time you can choose to be transfered to a live representative thats ready and willing to dish out all the small talk you can handle and hopefully help you solve the issue. However there are certain systems that just don't allow you to ever get in touch with someone. I suppose if I had a multi million dollar company and was trying to cut costs, I would implement something like this... but as a consumer it sucks big time.
Take for example Columbia House. Yeah you know them... the DVD club mailings you get every other week in the mail, offering you a gazillion movies for 3 cents plus $12.00 in shipping. each. They also offer you another bunch if you get all your sucker friends to sign up.Ã‚Â Well Columbia House sucks ass at customer service. The first problem I had today when trying to get a hold of them was exactly that... getting a hold of them.Ã‚Â Their numbers are not publicized on their website. I guess they probably have them printed in their contract papers you get, but since I wasn't at home when I needed them, looking for this information in those papers was was not an option.
So I went on to look for them online. I eventually succeeded at finding their toll-free number (I have links at the bottom), but it wasn't as easy as it should have been. To my disappointment, the number was useless. I called and ended up in one of those loops that ask you for the same thing over and over. Then eventually the phone system gives you, in a condescending smug tone a little statement to the like of "I'm sorry you're having problems with the easy-to-use phone automated system, please call back later to try again" and it hangs up. This is so frustrating... Geez! why would I want to try again later if I know its not I that has a problem. The problem is that the phone system is poorly designed, or they simply don't care to talk to you. After all, if you are calling this number they usually already have your money anyway.
In this case I had to put my hands down and fall back to the only way of communicating my issue to them. I went to their website, filled out a stupid form and hit send, hoping that someone will actually read it and understand my problem and try to help. One can only hope.
Thanks for reading my rant, and I hope that my time was at least well spent if I can provide you with the links to find other hard to find toll free numbers. There are sites all over the web with this information, here are a few that I think are pretty good.
tollfreenumber.org (airlines, government, health, irs, hotels, education, forum style)
hardtofind800numbers.com (listed alphabetically by company, tons of them)
internet 800 directory (searchable by state and company)