Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Techno Denial


Yesterday I had a blood-curdling phone fight with United Airlines. A long-standing Gold Card member, I had hoped for some deferential treatment with a complicated request and instead was treated as if I had entered their office with dog crap on my shoe. And why beat around the bush? It was Ms. Velasquez, a supervisor in Chicago, who began the conversation with a tone that made Hard-Hearted Hannah (the Vamp of Savannah) seem like peaches-and-cream. (I hope some United Airlines Executives are reading this. Fire her!)

But here’s a bit of modern wisdom. If you get the Supervisor from Hell, simply hang-up and call again and you’ll get someone else. Keep going until you find someone with an actual heart in their body. All it takes is one person to say, “Sure! No problem!” And so three hours into multiple conversations that crippled my immune system, shortened my life span and made me consider never boarding a plane again, I found her. I could tell from the musical tone of her voice that I had a winner.

But even here, I never got to properly thank her, find out her name to recommend her for Employee of the Century or even feel confident that our transaction was completed because—you guessed it—we got cut off before it was finished. But apparently, it was finished enough to rebook the flights—or at least that’s what my e-mail said. Whoever you are, please know that I love you!

It took me another three hours of vigorous walking, tree hugging, helping other people with directions and retrieving tennis balls hit over the fence for all the angry chemicals that flooded my system to finally fade away. Of course, all those chemicals are just hiding around the corner. The moment I re-tell the story, I re-enter my emotional state at the moment (this is scientific fact) and out they come again. In lesser doses, to be sure, but there nonetheless.

So today the phone rang and I got one of those annoying recorded messages with the fake cheery voice asking me how satisfied I was with my recent service. A ha!! Normally, I’d hang up, but here was my chance to give feedback.

“Rate your answers from 1 to 5, 1 being ‘very dissatisfied’ and 5 being ‘extremely satisfied.’ Are you ready? Okay, here we go?

Was the person you talked with courteous to you?”

“One,” I said without a moment’s hesitation.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat that?”

“One.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat that?”

“ONE!!!!”

“Was the person you talked with helpful?”

“One.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat that?”

“ONE!!!!”


“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat that?”

“OOOOONNNNNEEEE!!!!!!”

“Were you satisfied with the result?”

“One.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat that?”

And here I said the same thing (unrepeatable in public) that I said to Ms. Velasquez before hanging up.

So there you have it. Machines can’t take criticism. They ask for feedback and pretend they can’t hear you if they don't like the number. And when they went on to the next question, it was never clear that they actually registered the “one.” They just gave up on asking me to repeat it.

We think of machines as soulless, but apparently, they’re in deep denial about their shortcomings and unwilling to register constructive criticism. 

Of course, I’m talking about Ms. Velasquez here.

1 comment:

  1. P.s. based on my United experience from this summer, you just might want to give another call and see if they changed your "fix" when you weren't looking. It's been known to happen says the girl who almost lost the 6 inches of business plus that she paid for on a trip to Switzerland.

    ReplyDelete