Saturday, March 14, 2009

A study in stark contrast

Today I had two administrative tasks on my “To Do” list. I had to call AAA, my home insurance company, to discuss with them some moisture near one of our doors and hopefully to get some advice about capable contractors who could diagnose and fix the problem. I also had to call LL Bean to arrange for a merchandise return. I spoke to each on back-to-back calls and was struck by the difference between the two organizations.

Reaching a person at AAA required a first attempt that I aborted after spending forty minutes on hold followed by a second attempt where I had to navigate an automated voice menu including the entry of my long, alpha-numeric policy number on the key pad (a task I find aggravating for some reason). Once I reached a live person, I was required to repeat my long, alpha-numeric policy number and state my home address, home phone, cell phone, and work phone. Once all of my contact information had been collected, ostensibly for security purposes, a brief exchange with the fast-talking, script reading, customer-service representative ended abruptly with her conclusion that I had reached the wrong department. She transferred me to another fast-talking, script reading airhead who required that I repeat my policy number (third time they collected it during one call) and all of my contact information. I am skeptical that any of this information has been retained in a manner that will allow its retrieval on my next call. Forget the fact that the rest of the call was entirely fruitless, let’s just stop here and reflect on how many hoops I had to navigate before explaining the point of my call and seeking assistance. It is experiences like this one that have helped me develop my geezer quality muttering skills which, I can assure you, I practiced a bit after hanging up the phone.

Once I finished muttering, I called LL Bean and was greeted on the first ring by Bonnie who asked how she could help. I responded thusly, “Hello, this is Dennis Fortier and I am calling about an exchange”. I said nothing more and nothing less, did not spell my name and gave no other identifying information. Without so much as a pause, Bonnie inquired “Do you still live on Broadhorn Drive?” which, of course, I do. She asked a couple of brief questions and offered a clear and satisfying solution to me in about a minute. No muttering required.

I found the contrast striking. Triple AAA doesn’t know the number on the policy they wrote for me even after I punch it into a phone and repeat it to a live human being on their payroll. LL Bean knows where I live as soon as I mention my name.

1 comment:

  1. mama bear3/17/2009

    your profile picture is perfect. i think of it as two great minds probably thinking in silence the same as you suffer in silence.