Friday, May 01, 2009

Down the rabbit hole

. . . or making sense out of Jabberwocky . . .

I received a letter in the mail this week from ABC Office Supply [name withheld]--one which I'm sure many of you also received if you have an ABC credit card. The letter stated that after May 13th, I will no longer be able to use said plastic payment method for purchases of any sort. I received an apology for any inconvenience this might cause me, an expression of appreciation for my business, and a coupon for 10% off my next purchase in the next month-and-a-half. The letter also provided a toll-free phone number if I had any questions about this matter.

I said to myself, "Hmm. My bill is paid online, on time, all the time, and I've never been late, so what's going on?"

Let me state up front that you should never invite me to call you if you don't really want to talk to me. I called the toll-free number.

After punching various numbers (9 for if it's Tuesday, 6 if you're of the female persuasion, 2 if you really think you're going to get an answer, 1 to return to the main menu, and finally 4 to talk to someone who's alive), I finally reached Bunny, a courteous (if somewhat dim) customer service representative.

Bunny: Thank you for calling ABC Office Supply. How may I help you?

Me: Well, I received this letter in the mail that I didn't understand, and was hoping you could explain it to me. The letter said to call this number if I needed an explanation.

Bunny: What did the letter say?

Me: The letter said that after May 13th, I can no longer use my ABC credit card for purchases, but no explanation was provided.

Bunny: Would you mind if I put you on hold for a couple minutes while I look into this?

Me: Of course not. Thank you.

Bunny [3 minutes later]: Are you still there, Ms. Nolan? I'm sorry this is taking so long.

Me: Oh, that's all right. I'm sure you're doing your job.

Bunny [3 minutes later]: I'm sorry to keep you waiting. My computer is really slow. You say you can't use your credit card?

Me: Well, actually there is no problem in using the credit up until May 13th. But after that, I no longer can do so.

Bunny: When did you first learn that you can't use your credit card anymore?

Me: Today. I got a letter in the mail.

Bunny: What did the letter say?

[I read the entire letter to her, including the signature block, wondering when Bunny will stop me. After all, these people are paid to answer questions quickly.]

Bunny: Will you excuse me for a minute or two?

[I read my e-mail while Bunny looks for the computer screen that tells her how to answer my question.]

Bunny [3 minutes later]: Are you still there, Ms. Nolan?

Me: Yes.

Bunny: I'm sorry about the wait. My computer is really slow.

Me: That's okay, as long as you find the answer to my question. [What I'm actually thinking is that if she doesn't answer my question soon, I'm going to excuse myself to go to the bathroom.]

Bunny [3 minutes later]: I'm really sorry. My computer is still being really slow.


Me: Okay, I'm still here.

Bunny [3 minutes later]: I'm still waiting for my computer. In the meantime, would you mind answering a question?

[I'm thinking, "Sure, let's get this show on the road."]

Me: Okay.

Bunny: Did you try to use your credit card?

Me: No, not lately.

Bunny: How do you know it won't work?

Me: Actually, it works just fine. It will work just fine until May 13th, when the letter I received said I can't use it anymore. What I'd like to know is why not, since I pay my bill on time, and always have.

[I'm wondering whether she wants me to read the letter again. I'd be happy to comply.]

Bunny: Oh, that's very good. Can I ask you another question?

Me: Sure.

[I really have to visit the bathroom now.]

Bunny: Do you ever check your credit rating?

Me: Yep. Every six months. No problems to report.

Bunny: I'm really glad to hear that, Ms. Nolan. That's really very good. I really want to tell you about this program that--

Me: Thanks for sharing, but I check my credit report for free, and there's no problem. By the way, that's not what I am calling about.

Bunny: Oh. That's really very good. [She pauses.] Did you hear that ABC Office Supply is closing?

Me: Why, no. I hadn't heard that. You mean the stores are going out of business?

Bunny: Well, no. Not exactly.

Me: I don't understand. When you tell me the stores are closing, that means they won't be around, and that you're losing your job. Are you going to be out of a job soon?

Bunny: No, not exactly. What it means is that they're closing. You can still make payments to your account, though.

Me: I'm sure I can, too, if there's an amount due. How about if we get back to that letter and my question? How's that computer screen of yours coming along?

[I'm thinking to myself that we're really not getting anywhere today.]

Bunny: I'm still waiting for my computer screen to come up.

Me: You know, I really appreciate your trying to answer my question, but apparently your computer is not cooperating, and you don't know the answer. How about if you transfer me to a supervisor who probably has a little more information about this?

Bunny: Okay. Thank you, Ms. Nolan. If you ever need assistance in the future, don't hesitate to call 1-800-DUMBBUNNY because we really appreciate your business.

[Really?! Dumb Bunny transfers me to her supervisor, surprisingly quickly.]

Supervising Rabbit [grumpily]: What's your question?

Me: I received this form letter in the mail from the Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer of your company, telling me I can't use my credit card after May 13th.

Grumpy Rabbit: Uh-huh.

Me: Do you want me to read the letter to you?

Grumpy Rabbit: I know what it says.

Me: The letter said to call you if I had questions. So, I'm calling.

Grumpy Rabbit: What's to question?

Me: Well, the letter had no explanation, and it said to contact you for one. I pay my bills on time, and always have. Is there a new policy in place that I'm not aware of?

Grumpy Rabbit: It's nothing personal. Nobody can use their card.

Me: Do you represent ABC Office Supply or 123 We Charge You Maximum Interest?

Grumpy Rabbit: 123.

Me: Thank you, sir. You just answered my question. Apparently 123 is ending its credit card arrangement with ABC, and that's why I will not be able to use my card after May 13th.

Grumpy Rabbit: That's correct.

Me: Well, sir, that's the answer I was looking for. I sure wish that's what I had been told in the first place, or you wouldn't be talking to me. Just a suggestion--why don't you inform your call centers about this fact so that you don't have to take these kinds of calls? The person I talked to before I reached you was very courteous, but she was clueless. She told me ABC is closing.

Grumpy Rabbit: We'll take that into consideration the next time.

Me: Thanks for your information. Have a good day.

I finally go to the bathroom, wondering whether I should laugh or cry. What I want to know, however, is when a door is closed. Really closed.

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.