Is there actually virtual ‘customer service’?

Have you ever picked up the phone to call a customer service line just to be put on hold, told, “your call is important to us” and then when you do finally talk to someone, they explain it’s not really their fault?

Virtually every business has some sort of marketing plan that includes promotion and customer service.

With local businesses for example, there is some type of advertisement to let you know what goods or services they have to fill your needs.

When you call a business — let’s use landscaping for example — there is someone to explain what they can do and how much it will cost.

If you go into a store, once again, there is a person who can help you find what you are looking for and perhaps even suggest a better alternative.

For better or worse however, many Americans have been trending toward buying many things on the internet.

Now if you’re dealing with an actual person here in the area and something isn’t right with the service or merchandise you purchased you have the opportunity to personally see that individual or store and hopefully rectify the problem.

From recent experience, I have found that dealing with online companies isn’t always so easy; in fact, they can actually multiply as you go.

Let me relate my latest tale of unrequited customer service.

Several months ago I received a notice that a credit card I was using was going to be cancelled because they didn’t have all the information on file they needed.

This particular card was the one that I used for my relaxation activities and just happened to be “the one in my wallet” so naturally I called to take care of the perceived problem.

I was told that they didn’t have a physical address on file and “that is required.”

Hmm, “I have had this card for numerous years, I supplied the physical address when I applied and there has never been any difficulty before,” I explained.

No matter! I promptly supplied the address and quickly explained not to use that as a mailing address because there was no home delivery by USPS in Chester.

“You’re kidding me?” was the reply.

No, I explained, the street address is good for shipping, but the Post Office box is the only way I get mail.

After a very short conversation with this person from somewhere in the world I got the distinct impression that they didn’t believe my explanation, but they were going to submit the information anyway.

Here comes the good part as we flash forward to last week.

I had been looking for a merchandise order that I made almost three weeks ago (early October) by going online to my credit card account to see if it had been charged. (Therefore sent).

I find that the account for the credit card in my wallet is restricted and hence there is no charge and therefore, nothing has been shipped.

My first call is to the credit card company customer service.

This voice from somewhere in the world tells me yes, they see where I called in July but there is still no “physical address” and therefore the card was cancelled.

I am transferred to someone else and again I explain what had happened in July at which time this new voice from somewhere in the world replies roughly, “Sorry about that, I’ll re-submit the information, but I can’t guarantee it will be reinstated.”

No big deal! I’m not positive I want that card in my wallet after all.

My Second call is to the catalog company I had made the undelivered order from.

Sure enough, my order was cancelled because the credit card was declined.

Yes, I know as I quickly explained the circumstance and as I’m about to reorder I mention it would have been nice to get a notification about the cancelation so I could have taken care of this weeks ago.

To this comment I am rapidly informed that I had been notified by e-mail. “It’s automatic.”

Hmm! Here we go again.

I do a quick e-mail search, nope, nothing from your company back to September (pre-order).

The paraphrased response from the Customer Service supervisor, “That’s not possible, it shows right here it was sent. Besides you should be checking your order status online to make sure everything is OK.”

Now that I realize that all customer service for online sales is the responsibility of the customer, I really don’t know what to say, so a simple thanks for your help? And good-bye are in order.

I can only surmise that when you are talking to a “customer service” voice on the phone somewhere in the world about a glitch in your dealings with that company you should never let your expectations get too high or you risk being sorely disappointed and feeling like you’ve let yourself down.

Or maybe it’s just that virtual technologies don’t always work in a real world.

For me the solution is very simple, if you find that good and faithful company, local or even online, stick with them.

When you come across a business that fails to take care of you as a customer and you feel like a virtual being, avoid them like the plague.