Rage Against the Machine

The campaign to bring back Telecom starts today.  The grand vision of a privatized entity, moulded by market forces to serve your every telecommunications whim and desire, can now be dismissed as a noble theory, thoroughly disproved by the cold hard truth.  The dream is over.

    A couple of weeks ago, I had cause to complain to a major telecommunications company (who, for the sake of anonymity, I shall refer to as the Smurfatron Mega Corporation) after they left me on hold for an entire hour.  Whilst an hour may not be that much using whatever method the people at Smurfatron rely on to measure the space / time continuum, the choice of music meant that the time on hold was better calculated in terms of dog years.  Upon reflection, it was not so much a complaint as an outpouring of frustration – fevered but basically transitory in nature.  In the first instance, I received an automated reply.  This, as it turned out, was a much better response than the one that followed a few days later:   

‘Webform: Business Complaint  (KMM80945265V32735L0KM)

Dear Mr. McCullough,

Thank you for your email dated 26/8/10, regarding High bill for your Internet.

Unfortunately we cannot process any complaint due to insufficient details. If you could provide us with the service and account number we can investigate and escalate through to complaints if we are unable to resolve the issue.

Yours sincerely,

Smurfatron Mega Corporation – wholly owned subsidiary of Wastrels Inc.

I am not one to take these things lying down, standing up or any other way you can think of.  Determined not to be defeated by organizational gobbledygook, I was quick to respond.

Dear computer,

Insufficient details?  Touché.  If anything, I was concerned that I had provided too much detail rather than not enough.  Hopefully you’ve not confused my complaint – KMM8094565V32735LOKM – with another complaint, such as KMM8094565V32735LOKL or, heaven forbid, KMM8094565V32735LOKN.  I appreciate that it may be hard to tell them apart.

Incidentally, I can only say that the sheer weight of numbers and letters suggests that lots of people feel as I do and have made complaints to your office.  For my part, I’d made a complaint in a moment of frustration.  In the cold light of day, I was prepared to consider that being placed on hold was surely an aberrant outcome that does not represent the normal workday operations of a telecommunications giant.  Your magnificent email, however, leads me to reconsider.

I was trying to respond to messages from the Smurfatron Business Centre to call and discuss my Internet account. According to the messages, I am on the wrong plan. For my part I confirm that, in layman’s terms, I am presently being ‘charged up the wazoo’.  

If the provision of a name and number is too much of an exercise in vagary for your company to cope with, then Lord have mercy on us all.  Please try harder.  I look forward to hearing from someone, indeed anyone, soon.

Upon sending it, I received yet another automated response to add to my steadily growing pile.  But these were desperate times that did not so much call for, as flat-out demand, desperate measures.  Willing to throw caution to the wind from a vehicle moving at high speed, I dialled the number for Smurfatron.  This time, perhaps only by chance, somebody answered.

    The operator calmly explained that my current Internet plan allowed 400 megabytes to be downloaded per month which I was exceeding.  Until that moment, I had thought a megabyte was a kind of dinosaur, much like a Triceratops but with wings and the ability (hopefully) to shoot lasers from its beady reptilian eyes.  It is, apparently, the computing equivalent of a horse and buggy.  Whilst I was busy taking my surrey with a fringe on top for a spin on the information superhighway, the world had moved on.  So much so that it was no longer possible to sign up for the piddling Internet plan I had – the least you could now ask for was, at 2 gigabytes, five times larger.  And, just to sink the boot in, slightly cheaper than my current plan.

    It begged the question – how could I possibly be on a plan that no longer existed?  That the Smurfatron Mega Corporation thinks that it is somehow appropriate to charge me for a product so inferior that it no longer survives is surely the corporate equivalent of a snatch and grab.  Leaving aside my own sense of righteous fury at having been the subject of a telecommunications punking, part of me can’t but help admire a mind so purely evil.   Genius aside, I just can’t be their customer any more.  Come back Telecom, all is forgiven.

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