Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | July 19, 2011

Finding Humor When Dealing with Customer Service at the Cable Company

During the past year my parents dealt with some monumental changes to their lifestyle.  None of us is ever truly prepared for these changes.  We may anticipate that the day will eventually arrive, but it still catches us in unsuspecting ways.

Suffice it to say, that one parent’s health radically affected their day-to-day living and the other parent was totally unprepared to handle the changes.  Anyhow, that’s not really the subject of today’s blog posting.  That, in itself, could be the topic for many separate posts.  Actually, I often wish I’d been able to blog about all the changes as they happened, but unfortunately caring for both of them became more than a full-time job throughout the year.  Time was at a premium.

Remarkably, they are both doing much better – – almost unheard of, given all that transpired.  While my responsibilities have lightened, there’s still plenty to do to keep a watchful eye on both of them.  Yesterday was one of those days.

It wasn’t a major issue, but as with most of these events, they still manage to be time-consuming.  My father called, mentioning an issue with his cable bill.  It was quite a lengthy discussion before I could grasp what had occurred.  In a nutshell, apparently his cable bill had a sudden mystery charge on it. He had already called the cable company, and they provided an explanation, making little logical sense, and informing him that he needed to come in and exchange his cable box for a different one (a few towns away), or continue to incur the charge.  Optionally, he could have the technician come by the house to exchange the box, for a hefty fee.   How could this be?  He never requested the service for which they are suddenly charging him.  Of course, to me, this meant either my husband or I would be driving the 30 minutes to my parents, unhooking the system, driving 30 minutes to the Cable office, waiting on a long line, and driving the 30 minutes back to reinstall it.

I told him I’d try calling the cable company to see what I could garner. As I’ve learned during the past year, rarely will these companies speak with the person not listed on the bill.  It’s not unlike how HIPAA makes it virtually impossible to request info from a doctor or nurse for any family member other than yourself. HIPAA, that’s a whole ‘nother post!

Well, fortunately they were willing to speak with me at the cable company, so I managed to straighten out the mess.  After 3 different explanations from 3 different representatives, none of which matched, I began to believe my father was sold a bill of goods. I wondered if they were taking advantage of a senior citizen. After all, he’s well in his 80’s, and sometimes the language of technology can put the best of us in a tizzy.

So, here’s the funny part.  Finally one of the customer service people explained that it had been a free service for the first 12 months of his contract, but now he was responsible for a monthly fee.  Meanwhile, he never used the free service for the first 12 months, so I asked that it be discontinued.  What made me laugh was that the customer service representative was trying to tell me that it had been on his bill all along, noted as $0.  He asked me why we hadn’t called during the year to question the service and the zero dollar charge.  I responded that I imagined most people wouldn’t call to question a billing amount of $0. (Did I really have to say that?)  It would be more likely for someone to call and question an amount greater than zero and unanticipated.  He went on to tell me how he would definitely call, whether it said zero or not.   Well that was enough for me. This phone call was getting more irrational by the moment.  It was time to ask for a supervisor.

Suffice it to say, the supervisor, after yet another explanation, ultimately agreed to eliminate the charge, and send a technician, free of charge to swap the cable box.

So, after a lengthy negotiation, I was proud to have put out yet another fire, which probably shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.  It’s all in a day’s work.

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

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