If I hear one more technical support person parrot, “I apologize,” and not mean it at all, I may run for Congress on a platform to hold all call center executives accountable for consumer torture. Surely, I am not the only person in this country who is sick and tired of being treated as if my time has no value whatsoever? Surely, others of you out there are as frustrated as I am about call center hell- and other technology service issues?
You know the drill, the incessant recordings, repeatedly answering the same questions once you finally get a live person, being put on hold and helpless, talking to people with thick foreign accents in remote locations with shoddy connections, the tech support person without the skill to solve your problem, wasting not only minutes but days of time to solve a problem. Or worse, not being able to solve the problem at all.
So here’s what happens: You and I get sucked into
buying technology on the cheap. A couple of hundred bucks for this or that. Then, it busts or is screwed up in some way. And we can’t get it fixed – without a heap of hell. At the prices we want to pay, well, by the time you figure into the cost structure the cool ads and the hype, there just isn’t much left for service. So, I pay $200 for the technology and about $3,000 in my time to fix a problem.
No where was the frustration more evident than on my recent trip to the Apple Store. The iPhone I bought a month ago went postal during the huge Dallas snow storm. When the power went out and the house temperature reached 40 degrees, my dog started hyperventilating. Time to leave with blankets and dog food in hand. I spent three nights in a friend’s house on the couch. About the same time, my iPhone croaked. The trippy touch-your-skin-to-the screen-so-the-magical-electrons-open-the-door technology crashed-among other things. I could see the messages popping up that people were calling me, but I couldn’t do anything to answer them. No land line. No cell. It was like being partially under anesthesia, unable to talk even though the surgeon is cutting. Another way of describing helpless.
A few days later, I gather the courage to go to the Apple Store. Dozens and dozens of hypnotized customers talked to a battalion of blue tee-shirt uniformed Apple-ites. These are highly indoctrinated employees who speak Apple and only Apple. If you bring up any word or mention any item not in the official Apple dictionary, they go mute. Just like the French-or the Borg. Occasionally, a manager notices you have not drunk the same cool aid, because he sees you standing around with a furrowed brow rather than in a trance. He stops to ask if anyone has helped you. Once he knows you are indeed in the fold, because you are signed up for an appointment at the Genius Bar, he moves on. He couldn’t care less that you are pissed as hell. How could he care? There are hundreds of stoned people completely addicted to Apple. Meanwhile, for an hour, you sit and wait and watch. Finally, Genius Joe flashes his smile at you. He perkily informs you that he’ll have to take your phone back to factory settings – meaning you’ll have to spend another week fixing the email and other stuff on your phone so it works, resetting every app, and all the ins and outs you don’t remember a damned thing about.
It’s been a long week and I’m frustrated. Fixing technology is not my idea of a good time. And clearly, I need to vent. So far, I haven’t worked out a solution for all this yet. I fear Toyota’s recent cars with a mind of their own are only harbingers. If the current climate is any indication, technology challenges are going to get a lot worse before there is any relief.