Friday, May 2, 2008

The Last Forty-Minutes . . .

. . . have been spent on the phone listening to a Southside Irish woman argue with a Russian Nihilist.

The projector mounted squarely above my bed went out two nights ago. It was at the most inopportune of times. I'd finally scored a copy of Aliens V. Predator 2: Requiem (or, AVPR as it's known on the streets), was blazing some prime cheeba, and was in the company of a woman of ill-repute. (So what if only the first is true?) When the unit failed to power-up, I spent fifteen minutes pantless, trouble-shooting. We were forced to watch it on a black and white TV in the kitchen. She sat in the sink.

I brought the projector into the office and have spent the entire morning trying to bring this thing back to life. I called Toshiba Projection Support (it's an actual department) and spoke with a tech. He had me lay a hand on the unit, ensure I have a positive blue aura, and transmit my chi.

No dice.

He gave me the name and number of an authorized Toshiba Repair agency on the south side of town. He also informed me that the warranty expired four days ago. Minutes are spent trying to persuade him to extend the warranty through to today. To do so, I have to speak with the Warranty Department.

The Warranty Department are fucking assholes.

Amy is a very pushy woman who took no less than three minutes before brutally condescending me. On average, it takes eight minutes before one is able to successfully play that card on me.

"Since the unit is only four days out of warranty, and the issue isn't the bulb I was hoping you'd be able to grant me . . ."

"Oh, it's not the bulb? When did you become a technician, A.v.E?"


She tells me to take it to the Service Center on the south side. If it's the bulb, I have to pay for it. If it's anything else, they'll issue an exemption to the repair facility. This exemption states the cost of all work and serivce will be covered by Toshiba.

I call the Service Center, High-Power INC, and explain that Toshiba is asking me to drop off this unit, find out what the problem is, and contact them to decide if they're going to pay for it. The woman at High-Power INC, Deena (I only provide her name because she is fucking awesome) confirms my suspicions that this isn't protocol. If they don't have the exemption number from Toshiba before the unit is dropped off, they'll immediately ask for a $135 non-refundable deposit.

I call back Amy, to tell her that her plan is faulty, and that it leaves me completely unprotected in the event Toshiba decides not to issue an exemption. Amy isn't there, instead it's Matt - the Crazed Russian. (I know, Crazed Russian is redundant.)

I tell him the repair facility won't even look at the projector unless they get an exemption number. Otherwise, they'll demand a deposit, and I doubt High-Power INC or Toshiba are going to be fighting eachother to refund me that expense. He places me on hold to talk with Amy. Moments later he returns.

"Jesus, A.v.E. It's so simple, I don't see how you're not getting it. You take it down there, and you tell them you have an arrangement. They'll look at it, tell you what's wrong, and then you call us back. Then we'll issue the exemption."

"They won't look at it until I pay, or you give them the exemption," I argue.

He snickers. "We're Toshiba."

I hated doing this, but given that I'm at my office and speaking on a phone with third-party capabilities, I call Deena.

I give her the heads-up. "Deena, it's A.v.E, again. I'm on the other line with Matt at Toshiba. He's not really picking-up on your service policy. He keeps insisting I can just drop stuff off and have someone put work into it for free."

"Yeah, this happens all the time. Go ahead and put him through."

I join all lines. It's a party.

Conference calls have to be one of the most uncomfortable situations. You're entering into a conversation in which the other parties are privy to information you're not. The amount asymmetrical information is overwhelming. It's like walking into a room where everyone is laughing, only to have it stop as soon you enter.

I introduce the parties, Instantly, they have at it.

Deena tells Matt the Service Center Policy.

Matt tells Deena he's Toshiba, their Service Facility should do everything he demands.

Deena asks to speak with the manager.

Matt claims he is the manager.

Deena apologizes to me, and says that their Toshiba Rep who could easily resolve this is on vacation.

Matt claims he is Toshiba.

Deena is making a valid point to Matt. If they take in this equipment for free and without an exemption, begin working on it, then are told that there will not be an exemption issued they're out both the time and cost of labor that was put into servicing that equipment. "And, last I checked, nobody works for free," Dena concludes.

I'm sending Deena one of those bouquets made out of fruit.

Matt, in my imagination, is looking at the stars tattooed on his kneecaps. Calmly dragging a toothpick across a tiny cup of tea.

"Yes, Dino. Nobody works for free. By which, who do you work for?"

"I work for High-Power, INC," she says. knowing full well where this is going.

"Yes, but who does High-Power, INC. work for?" He lays the toothpick on the saucer.

"We provide service for many electronics companies."

"Toshiba, correct?"

"Yes . . . we do provide . . ."

He interrupts, "That's right, you work for Toshiba."

Damn. That was violent. It wasn't a statement of synergy. It was one of straight dominance. I was expecting the next line of questions from Matt to be frank and explicit descriptions of her past sexual encounters.

And like a pendulum, this exchange went back and forth.

"Why don't you send the exemption, and on the section where it lists 'comments,' specify that only work not involving the bulb be covered?" It sounds like a fair compromise.

"We don't do things like that," his response, dry.

"Are you kidding, I've got a stack of them from Toshiba right here." Deena reads off the labor details from several forms.

For the first time, silence from Matt. We have him. Or, at least we think.

"That's just not something we do."

I reach for my dictionary and open it up to cantankerous, curious to see what this asshole looks like.

Deena leaves the conversation. She'll talk to her boss and call me this afternoon with what I should do. As she's getting off the line, Matt delivers one last kick to the ribs, "Dino, I will be suggesting that we look for a new Service Center in Chicago."

The slam hurts both our ears.

Matt sips from his cup. "A.v.E, I don't know why she was being so difficult."

The tragedy is, I laud bad customer service almost as much as I do good customer service. There's something beautiful in giving up. Apathy is a gift.

In a later post, I'll share the winner of the Best/Worst/Best Employee, ever.

1 comment:

Moaning Myrtle said...

"I'm sending Deena one of those bouquets made out of fruit."

You could ask babbles to make a vegetable bouquet. I'm not sure how fresh it would be by the time it arrived in chicago though.