Monday, July 12, 2010

Hell is on the Line

T-Mobile has a nifty feature where you can have your agonizing conversation with a representative emailed to you. This saves me a lot of work. If only all incompetent/malicious corporations were this user friendly.

~Jason G: Hello and welcome to [the newest ring of the Customer Service Circle of Hell]. My name is Jason and I will be glad to assist you today. First, please allow me one moment to review your question.
Me: ok
~Jason G: I understand you are asking about the $19.99 Shipping charge?
Me: correct, as well as the tax that goes with it
~Jason G: Ok. The $19.99 was for express shipping.
Me: right, that seems to be in error
Me: i had a defective part that i had replaced
Me: under warranty
Me: it took several weeks to arrive, however
Me: and i was never told i'd be charged for shipping, nor do i think i should be if it wasn't in any way my fault
~Jason G: Ok. Sorry that you were charged. We can look into see if it can be adjusted. One moment please.
Me: thanks
~Jason G: Sorry for the wait. I have requested approval from my supervisor, and what we can do is credit back half of the shipping charge.
Me: why half?
Me: i need the entire charge refunded
Me: i never authorized it
Me: and the express charge is preposterous
Me: it took three weeks
~Jason G: There are unfortunately no supporting notes in your account saying about the charge, so as a result, we can give half back.
Me: that's your clerical error, not mine
Me: i have a very clear memory of the event
Me: i'll remind you that i've been a customer for seven years
Me: this seems particularly shoddy customer service
Me: if you're not authorized to refund the entire charge, please put me in contact with someone above you who can
~Jason G: We do thank you for your loyalty with T-Mobile. As there are no supporting notes mentioning the $19.99 shipping, we can adjust half of it back.
Me: what do you think "as there are no supporting notes mentioning the $19.99 shipping" means?
Me: because to me, it means nothing
Me: surely, you can see the charge
Me: so what's at question here?
~Jason G: I can see the charge yes.
Me: i didn't agree to the charge, the charge was never mentioned to me, the charge is twice your fault (once for the bad part and once for an oversight)
Me: so in what universe would it make sense for me to pay any of it?
Me: i don't blame you, personally--obviously, you aren't responsible
Me: but i'd like to think it should be clear why i shouldn't be either
Me: it would just be paying for corporate incompetence (at best)
Me: or willful robbery (at worst)
~Jason G: In order for us to send the device, it does require a shipping cost.
Me: ok, let's break this one down:
Me: 1) you sent the device, because it was broken (your fault)
Me: 2) you never mentioned a fee to me (your fault)
Me: 3) you sent it express shipping (allegedly), and yet it took several weeks (your fault)
Me: 4) the last time something was shipped to me from t-mobile (a much larger package), it cost 7.99, and yet this somehow cost 19.99 (your fault)
Me: how about you absorb the shipping cost, as the reason for its being shipped is entirely your responsibility?
Me: the item was shipped because it broke within two weeks
Me: that's a bad product
~Jason G: Ok. One more moment please while I inquire about it.
Me: by any estimation
~Jason G: O, sorry for the wait. I have re-requested approval, and we will be able to adjust the whole amount back.
~Jason G: *Ok
Me: that's good
~Jason G: The adjustment for the shipping and handset assessory tax was r efunded.
Me: so the 19.99 plus 1.72 tax are being refunded, in other words?
Me: should i wait for a new bill then?
~Jason G: That is correct yes. The adjustments will show up on your next bill.
Me: so i should pay the full bill this month, and expect a 21.71 refund next month?
~Jason G: No. the adjustments that I just made are balance impacting, which means the amount you now owe is $70.59. Showing the adjustments were done will appear on your next bill.
Me: ok, so when i login, it says i still owe 92.30
Me: will it take a while to adjust?
Me: because my bill is withdrawn automatically
Me: and i'd like 70.59 withdrawn, not 92.30
~Jason G: It may take up to 2 hours to reflect online.
Me: ok, so i'll check back in two hours

Hell's Angels

Flying from New York City to Detroit is quick, only about an hour in the air. So you can understand how frustrated I would be when I arrived 13.5 hours late. Here's the time-line:

Flight #1: New York to Detroit (Delta): Canceled

I'm thinking, well, stuff happens. Weather, mechanical, best to be careful. Surely, they'll put me and my wife on a later flight since it's mid-afternoon. Wait, what's that? You want to send us the next day? Through Minneapolis, which is several hundred miles past Detroit? And you believe this critical information should be delivered via a robot that doesn't leave a phone number where I can ask follow-up questions? Eventually, I found a phone number and an android who would confess, when bullied, that it had lied about (minimum): 1) there being no other flights that day, and 2) their ability to place me on another airline. Eventually, we were placed on an American flight leaving 75 minutes later. It had a connection in Chicago (again, going past Detroit), but at least we'd only arrive four hours late. Why the flight was canceled remains a mystery.

Flight #2: New York to Chicago (American): Delayed

My attempt to get a meal voucher (since we're missing dinner with our friends) is dismissed with something between indifference and abject hatred. To be expected, but I'm getting a little worried because that 75 minute window between when one flight lands in Chicago and the next flight takes off for Detroit is shrinking. And the delay stretches. And now the best case scenario is that the plane lands 20 minutes after the connecting flight is scheduled to take off, and my wife is weeping on account of not being able to see her friends, and hating to fly, and having to spend the night in Chicago for no good reason.

Flight #3: Chicago to Detroit (American): Delayed

Hooray for this delay! After sprinting through O'Hare with despair in our hearts to catch a connection that had surely already left, we find that the plane is still there and the kind attendants are willing to let us board it, even though boarding is over and the doors are sealed. But wait!

Flight #3: Chicago to Detroit (American): Canceled

Two flights--on two different airlines--canceled in one day, surely this is a personal record. There is no mystery here, though. The flight was canceled for the trivial reason of not having a pilot. Hotel and meal vouchers for all, leading to this exchange:

Me: May I have a meal voucher for my wife, as well.
Attendant: This voucher is for you and your wife.
Me: $10 each?
Attendant: $10 total.

We'll dine like kings in Chicago for $5 each! We'll split a "Chicago-style" dog and bottled water--who are you to ask for more? Later, this conversation happens:

Other passenger: You can use that voucher almost anywhere in the airport.
Me (inside my exploding skull): ALMOST ANYWHERE? Thank God, it's only five hours until our next flight leaves because I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight!

Flight #4: Chicago to Detroit (American): On time

This was a relatively painless flight. They did try to move my wife across the plane but failed. We had a nice time in Michigan.

Flight #5: Detroit to New York (Delta): Lost reservation

We're not in the system. The several confirmation codes I have are meaningless. This is confirmed by the attendant behind the desk. My wife explains most of the bad things that happened, while the attendant makes phone calls and whispers things like "this is strange" and "it's just not there." But wait!

Flight #5: Detroit to New York (Delta): Delayed

We're there, after all. You only have to look capable of crying or screaming for long enough. The flight is about 30 minutes late, but by this point, the delay seems positively generous. When the very, very bumpy flight is over, there are other planes at the gate, but this scarcely matters. We're home, and our hatred of domestic air travel cemented.

Final Stats!

Actual flights: 5
Delayed flights: 3 (remarkable since we only booked 2 flights)
Canceled flights: 2
Lost reservations: 1