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So you just got blasted with a late fee, should you bother calling in to try to get gigantic company x (my evil 3 – phone company, cable company, bank)? Before the answer might have been “fuck it,” but no more! Lucky for you, I have taken the time to provide you with a comprehensive guide to get your fees overturned without pulling your hair out.
Step 1: Find the light at the end of the fucked up series of tunnels that is any and every automated phone system
While I long for the days of old, when a customer service phone number led directly to a customer service agent, in today’s technology-dependent world, you will most likely be tasked with navigating through an automated system. You should understand that these systems are not efficient. From what I’ve gathered, the intent of companies is not to establish an easy to use system or comprehensive system meant to serve customers as well as possible. Instead, these systems are designed to confuse the hell out of you, and repeatedly feed you back into the beginning of the loop in order to minimize the number of calls their representatives actually speak to. Yes, it promotes the use of the automated options by those people who can be helped by those options but for those of us with issues that go deeper than “tell me my balance,” it can feel like chewing on tin foil.
Now, when combining the fact that you probably feel like you got screwed when you got hit with some fee in the first place along with the fact that you are inevitably faced with navigating an automated system with numerous menus and outrageously slow explanations of your options, using a voice command system very well may be the same one that was in use in 1995, you are probably going to be pretty damn worked up by the time you get to a live agent. This can be a huge problem, or it can be a useful exercise. Let me explain.
As you should be able to deduce on your own, if you want to actually accomplish something with your call, you need to approach the customer service representative who you speak to with a level head. By actively accepting that any individual agent both has the power to help you, and withhold help from you for exactly as long as you choose to stay on the phone with them, you beat the system.
For me, after all of the hassle finding a phone number for customer service and navigating the inevitably outdated automated system, the only way to return to a place where I can make calm and logical arguments requires me to either rant a whole lot, or make a new friend with a Xanax prescription. So once I get somebody on the phone, I absolutely let loose. (If you are going to take the approach, it is important that you pay close enough attention while battling the automated computer devil that you can easily find your way back to a live agent without paying much attention during a subsequent call.)
Step 2: Let out all that displeasure on a random, unsuspecting operator
Now I don’t blame the person who is unlucky enough to take this first call of mine for my anger, that’s just illogical. That’s why I always take the time to preface my angry rants with a brief “hey, this isn’t about you, I’m sure you’re a nice enough person, but someone has to hear this, pass it along if it will help some other poor soul who should never have to deal with this shit,” before I allow the rage to overtake me.
Once it begins, I find it best to just go with the flow; allowing myself the freedom to bitch about the fact that the automated system disconnected me twice, or that (unrelated to my fees) the closes branch of the business closes early on Saturdays…really just whatever organically pisses me off the most. Of course eventually my outbursts cover the actual topic of my call, and I do my best to identify any holes in the “story” which I will use during a second, more-likely-to-succeed call. While this might seem like an unnecessary step when you know you have been totally and blatantly screwed over by a company (that really happens too much, where you at BBB?), you might be surprised how vital it is to your success. Arguing with someone with the ability to check your facts with a database, which you don’t have access to, can take the wind out of an argument mighty quickly. So remember to multitask: rant and plan!
Step 3: Explain yourself like a big kid
Now that you have gotten all your profanity out, hang up and call again. Once you have found your way back to a live agent, do your best to calmly explain your issue, starting with the earliest (chronologically) necessary bits. Don’t worry about including every detail of the blasphemous policy that screwed you over, but instead be sure to remain calm and articulate in explaining the most important facts. After having said your piece, close by asking if there is any way they can help you out this one time, and (if possible) offer to take a step on your part (setting up an auto-pay, paying the next payment today, or if you have no other options, a backhanded threat to take your business elsewhere in the future can suffice) to avoid making the same mistake in the future, and hope for the best.
While you can always push to speak to a manger if you don’t find success with the initial representative, I have found that taking these simple steps have provided me with a greater return than speaking to a superior ever did. Hopefully it works for you too!
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