Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sneakier and Sneakier, MegaCorps on the March

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We all know that corporate America is doing all it can to off customer service off onto webot pages to handle a lot of situations. For ordinary items, this is a good thing, but when you know you're going to have to speak with a representative, then you should be able to cut to the chase from Menu One.

Now we have a new wrinkle, which I have suddenly realized is a master stroke. If MegaCorp fractionates what each actual human knows about or can do, then each human in turn gets to pass you off to another one, with endless delays to make you go away.

Case in point, me vs my ATT phone bill. My new bill came with a new $5 late fee + 1% of the outstanding balance(used to be less than $1), and it seemed high, so I looked further. I noticed a charge for Vartec which had never been there before, which I've never heard of. I called ATT and waded through endless menus to get to an operator queue where I waited for ATT to hire enough operators to answer the phones in a timely (less than one minute) manner. Then I finally got to a human and asked, "what is Vartec ?" she doesn't know. She is supposed to answer questions about bills, this company name is on my bill. She hasn't a clue, but transfers me to someone who does, supposedly. This person I reached by actually having to call the Vartec number. I asked her what they are doing for me. She doesn't know either. She finally admits that Vartec is part of Clear Choice Communication, my long distance carrier, which charges me $5 a month plus 5 cents a minute, anywhere in the USA. Originally, 1999, there was no $5 fee. Now it seems that they want another $1.70 base fee, so they hide it in a section containing taxes and tariffs. Do they ask or notify ? No.

I tell them to cancel. They are canceling. ATT is also canceling, but they are charging $7.50 a line to cancel.

Bill Cosby calls this "victimization by bureaucracy." I think the good doctor is onto something.

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