10/15/2015 05:05 EDT | Updated 10/15/2016 05:12 EDT

Wireless Companies Should Just Call it 'Customer Disservice'

Fotografias de Rodolfo Velasco via Getty Images
Hombre vestido de traje y corbata, mirando un mensaje en el móvil con cara de asombro y gritando.

Like millions of other cell phone users, I've had to suffer the trials and tribulations of my phone company's customer service or what might more accurately be called their customer disservice.

It all started with a text message to my daughter Sarah's phone informing her that she had reached 100 per cent usage for our shared 3 GB data plan. Since I had recently bought an extra 2 GB of data overage, I was surprised to hear this news.

I quickly accessed the company's on-line site and checked on Sarah's data usage to date. We were three days from the end of the billing period and, according to the site, Sarah had only used just under 1 GB of data for the month.

Armed with that information (much like someone carrying a knife to a gunfight), I called my wireless provider and spoke to a pleasant tech support fellow named Nelson. Nelson informed me that Sarah's data usage was almost at 3 GB. He then transferred me to customer service.

Tracy was even more pleasant than Nelson and almost as useless. She informed me that there was a delay in the data reporting shown on their site and that teenagers could rack up a whole lot of data in an incredibly short period of time.

The best Tracy could do was to suggest we upgrade to a plan which would give us an extra 1 GB of data per month for a total additional cost of $30. Since it would only cost us $15 for an extra 1 GB of data under our existing plan, I informed Tracy that her suggestion didn't seem to be the wisest option at this time. Needless to say, Tracy and I parted ways.

After a few hours, I discarded rational thought and called back to speak to an alleged tech support person name Jalaja. Jalaja may be well versed in the technical ins and outs of mobile phones. Unfortunately, I'll never know because we had a hard time communicating.

Luckily, Jalaja did understand when I insisted on talking to someone at the next level and was only too happy to transfer me to Tia, who was employed in something called customer loyalty. She said there was nothing that could be done about the obvious discrepancy in the records until the end of the billing cycle. At this point, I asked what it would cost to switch to another carrier and Tia kindly informed me that we would incur a penalty of $565 for our "loyalty."

Having exhausted my patience, I gave up for the night and decided to try again the next day. The next afternoon, I spoke with André, a gentle soul with tech support who gave me a reference number and advised me to call back at the end of the billing period. I have to hand it to André though. He didn't simply pass me off to another live voice. No, he cleverly insisted on transferring me to a voiceless, faceless live chat with Farooq.

Farooq said we still had 200 MB of data left which jived with neither the advice of the other reps nor with the figures appearing on the company's website. After a half hour runaround with Farooq, I bade him farewell and called back to speak with Adam, the only customer support person in my two-day odyssey who made any sense.

Adam said that the figures on their site were accurate and reliable, that he saw no big daily data spikes for Sarah over the last month and guessed that the discrepancy I was seeing probably had something to do with the 2 GB data overage I had purchased. He, too, suggested calling back after my next bill issued at which time I could further discuss any extra charges.

Much as I enjoyed chatting with Adam and his many colleagues, I don't think I will take him up on his offer. Even if we get hit with the maximum overage charge of $50 at the end of the month, I think I'll just eat the bill and get on with my life. As I see it, if I continue to call up customer service at my wireless provider, it's going to cost me a whole lot more than $50 in psychotherapy and medication alone.


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