Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sometimes I forget the point

It's been a hectic two weeks - and no letting up in sight I fear.

Today's post is prompted by

Heads Or Tails

Today is HEADS: Point ... and oddly timely. Let me recap how I spent most of last Friday ... but as usual, I have to provide a little back story.

Back Story starts here ...
On December 15, 2008 - I remember this clearly, because it is my cousin's birthday and my very dearest friend was in the hospital having surgery. I was on the phone with her husband to see how she was when I glanced out the front window and saw two truckloads of men ... with jackhammers, and other implements of destruction ... in front of my house (driveway specifically). After assured that my friend was in recovery and the surgery went well, I trotted outside to say hello to the pack of men.

"Good Morning!" (I said with a bit of fear and trepidation).
"Hey." (Along with some grunts, and head nods).
"Can I get you guys any coffee, tea, water?" (Said with beaming smile and attempted oozings of charm).
"No, thanks - we're all set."
"Great! Can I ask what's going on?" (Said with a smile and still a bit of trepidation).
"Well, y'all reported a gas leak and even though it's your neighbor's pipes, we're going to have to break up your drive way to fix it."
"WHAT?" (Trepidation resolved into angst at this point)
"Didn't you report a gas leak?" (I'm guessing my mouth still agape made the supervisor ask this).
"Uh, my husband did ..." (great, thanks honey - sure, I know you were being all helpful ... but...)
"Well, we have to fix the leak and to do that we will need access to the pipes, which are under your driveway." (Said with just a hint of patronization).
"Fine. Who's going to repair the driveway?" (All trepidation gone at this point, along with the charm).
"Oh, we are, ma'am. Someone will be out in a two weeks to pour the cement. Before we leave today, we'll put in a patch so you won't have a gaping hole in your driveway."
"Uh huh, great, can you give me a number to call just in case there are any issues?" (Trepidation now has returned - still smiling, only with gritted teeth).
"Just call the gas company."
"And you guys will replace the entire section of the driveway, not just fill in the patch, right?
"Sure, ma'am. I'll make a note of it."
(Said as he turned away).
"OK - let me know if I can do anything for you - " (Said as I turned away).

Fast forward to Friday ... uh, that would be not 2 weeks, not even 2 months, but 3 - count 'em T-H-R-E-E months later and POINTLESS follow up phone calls.

End of back story - Friday's happenings start here ...
I glanced out the window about Noon ... to see some men in my driveway with tools and a dump truck. I thought to myself, great - they finally came - so I ran upstairs to put on my shoes and go outside ... only to get there while the truck was driving away (less than 2 minutes since I first saw them). So I looked at the front door - no little "tag" or "note" saying "HEY! WE WERE HERE" ... nothing. HOWEVER, they did leave a giant hole in the driveway - think about 9 square feet in the center of the front section (the gravel and chunks of concrete and asphalt that comprised the infamous patch were now gone). Oh, and they left a barrier gate ... so as to indicate a type of warning. Brilliant.

I don't mean to whine about it, but it would have been slightly helpful to have had someone let me know what they were doing so that I could get my car out of the garage - but OK - clearly they're coming right back ... but more to the point, they did not rip up the entire section of the driveway - which was about twice as long as the 3 foot by 3 foot hole (approximately three feet on either side of the hole). And, they must have been quite stealthy because I didn't hear them prior to my happen glance out the window.

I don't think I mentioned that the driveway, prior to the patch, was in great condition, it's not more than a few years old - no cracks, no pits, no blemishes of any kind. So, I called the gas company ... again. When I called over the last 3 months, they just made a note of my call and said someone would be out soon. Apparently, soon is 3 months. I had no idea.

The calls always start out like this:

"Please press 1 if you are calling to report a gas leak, Press 2 if you would like Customer Service".
"Please press 1 if you meant to report a gas leak the first time, press 2 for all other questions."
"Please press 1 if this is an emergency and you are reporting a gas leak".
--->Insert expletives and hitting the phone against the wall (as if that would help).
"Press 2 to contact billing, Press 3 to contact repairs ... AHHA!!!!"
"If you are calling to report a gas emergency ... "

And so it goes, until finally, they figure that they will give you a break (since you've been on the phone for 15 minutes pressing buttons) and get you to a real person.

Back to Friday... I speak to the very polite but clue free CSR from India who routed me to four different contacts. However, rather than just a simple transfer, I have to go BACK through the PHONE MAZE ... can you feel the frustration building? Then the real fun begins, so now after going through the voice prompts, I now have to explain to each person what my problem is ... and after they hear it, they send me to somewhere else. So 45 minutes later and still no further along, I get sent back to where I started ... polite but clue free CSR.

I explain to him, yet again what my problem is and he suggests I call another 800 number directly for repairs. I am elated ... and want to hug him through the phone.

I hang up, call the number ... gleefully go through the PHONE PROMPTS FROM HELL and talk to someone who tells me ... that this is the repair line for gas APPLIANCES.

I am sorry to say that I hung up rather abruptly. It's now been over 90 minutes since I started this little dance.

So I call back the first number again ... working my way through the maze, and ending up with another outsourced Customer Service Rep. This time, the CSR asks me to spell driveway. I was tempted to provide an alternate spelling (briefly) - but held back somehow. Brimming with frustration, blood vessels popping out of my forehead everywhere, I said, somewhat incredulously ... "I apologize for having to ask this, but I'm not sure I can take much more ... and I mean no offense ... but, do you understand what I mean when I say, 'driveway'?"

He replied, "No ma'am, I do not. But I would be most pleased to help you if you could explain."


I attempted an explanation of a driveway - frustration mounting, tension building, ready to erupt at a moment's notice ... when the rep finally gave up trying to understand and suggested that he transfer me to his escalation supervisor.

No, really?

Within 2 minutes of speaking with her (she was an Atlanta native and very calming soul) to provide a reader's digest version of the events to date - she said, "You mean they left a hole in your driveway and didn't tell you?"

"YES!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!!!!" I exclaimed with delight - and more jumping. "But not only that, they didn't remove the whole section which is what I asked for initially because the driveway is (or was) in great condition."

They came back ... within an hour of my phone conversation with the understanding escalation supervisor and assured me that they would return on Monday to remove the entire section and pour new concrete. In the meantime, they filled the patch with concrete so there wouldn't be a giant whole over the weekend.

So what's the point? You know, at this point, I really have no idea. I'm open for suggestions.

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Anonymous said...

OMG! That is just awful! I can feel your frustration.

Barb said...

Oh NOOOOO! Is it ok if I giggled just a little as I read this? :P

I know those mazes of phone prompts so well.. and they are extremely frustrating. And what about the ones where you have to speak your response?

My husband went through about ten minutes of pushing 1, pushing 8, pushing 513 once. THEN he was told all lines were busy and to try later. (It was the IRS.)

I'm glad your persistence apparently is beginning to work.

Tumblewords: said...

Oh! Good luck on this one. I had a similar situation which required hours of phone contact, no personal contact and at some point in time, I gave up. Maybe I'll restart it just for 'fun'. Good post - lots of humor in here even though it has to be a pit of frustration.

Tricia said...

I admit, like Skittles, I was forced to giggle as I read this. The horrifying sense of been there, done this was just too overwhelming. I just cringe every time I have to call a no help line of any kind.

Tabbikat's Thoughts