Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
Dealing with customer service is one of the ordeals of modern life. I hate those automated phone menus. Most of the time I shout “customer service” or hit “0” so I can talk to a real person. I had a few customer service stories this past month, which ran from exasperating to excellence:
• AT&T: Apparently the underground phone lines in my Upper Valley neighborhood tend to get compromised by water from the irrigation ditches. That results in poor landline service, sometimes cutting off service entirely. Fortunately, it’s easy to file a service request and service is usually fixed in a day or two. The technicians are particularly friendly. They even give you a card with their cell number in case the problem recurs in the next 30 days. Overall, I give the local AT&T folks high marks.
Dealing with the main customer service for AT&T is a different story. I recently had to make changes to my phone plan, and the first call led to more than a half-hour on hold. When I did get ahold of an actual human being, he asked if he could call me back and never did. So rinse, repeat, more time on hold, more transfers to different departments, etc. Made at least one stop at an overseas call center with the usual minor language problems, but then got referred back to someone at a U.S. call center. Finally got the changes taken care of, but the billing for the services is still messed up.
• American Airlines: I booked a flight for my wife and me through Expedia.com more than three months in advance, and was told to check back with the airline for the seat assignments. Silly me, I thought all I needed to do was find out what the seat assignments were.
As it turns out, no seat assignments were made. By the time I called less than a month before the trip, I found out that I would have to pay extra to get seats together. Somewhat disappointing, since we were taking the trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. In fact, I would have to pay extra on one or two legs of the flight just to get any seats at all, because the only seats left were considered premium seating.
I made enough of a fuss that the airline gave us seats together at no extra charge. The recent news stories about other customer service problems probably worked on our behalf — I think the airlines are a little more flexible. And to be honest, I might have mentioned I published a local newspaper!
(Let this be a lesson, by the way. If you book anything though a third party service like Expedia or Kayak, double-check everything with the airline, hotel, etc.)
• Apple Computer: I knocked my 5-year-old MacBook Pro laptop off the desk the other day and broke the screen, rendering it useless. I called a local computer repair shop, and they advised me to take it to the Apple Store at Cielo Vista Mall. The repair service there isn’t cheap, I was told, but Apple is fast and reliable. And their estimate covers any other minor problems they find while working on the main problem.
What I did not realize is that you should make an appointment to visit the “Genius Bar” at the Apple Store. I couldn’t get in the first time, made an appointment and the next visit was very fast and easy. They gave me an estimate, took the laptop and two days later it was ready. Not only was the screen good as new, but as advertised, they found a couple of other minor problems and fixed them at no extra charge. This was one of the best customer service experiences ever.
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Copyright 2017 by Cristo Rey Communications.