John Y’s Musings from the Middle: AT&T Customer Service Line and Making New Friends.

jyb_musingsI like making new friends as much or more than anyone I know.

But not on AT&T’s customer service line where I am hoping to get a quick resolution to a small and annoying phone issue.

Questions like “How is your day going so far?” and “How is everything else?” and “Are you enjoying your day so far today?” just don’t seem …spontaneous and, well…, genuine.

In fact, when I get disconnected and call back and talk to a completely different person, that new person, as fate would have it, asks me the exact same friendly questions about my day and me and the general state of my well-being. I am appreciative of these solicitous inquiries and I am always friendly in return —but I do try subtly to steer our conversation back around to the primary reason for my call which is mostly to get my phone working again.

I don’t mean to sound crotchety and think it is wonderful to be polite and friendly– especially with a stranger on a routine customer service call. But if you have to make regular calls to customer service, hearing the canned buddy chatter over and over can make you question how genuine the AT&T rep really is. Especially if you are trying to cancel a line you cancelled last month but continue to get charged for. And the rep tries to help out her new friend (you) by saying on three different occasions, “I noticed you are taking advantage of the Friends and Family Plan and I can’t recommend you cancel a line and I want to tell you about better options you are missing out on.”

Having a new friend is always a little awkward at first. You are just getting to know one another and when you have asked politely not to be sold a new line but just please cancel and stop charging for the line you cancelled last month, you tend to think a friend would understand. But I have found that my new AT&T friends don’t really “get” me when it comes to asking for their help. They tend to be what I would call “controlling.” They act like they know what is best for me better than I do myself.

And that does get annoying. Even between friends. Especially if my same new friend wants me to stay on the line at the end of our little chit chat to answer a bunch of questions about what a great job they did helping me (even if they really didn’t). Of course, I don’t ever say anything ugly in one of these question and answer segments about my new friend, but I can’t help thinking they are being a little self-absorbed —and needy. For a friend anyway.

Let’s just say I am sure glad that my non-AT&T friends don’t end our phone call conversations this way. And if they ever start, I may eventually begin giving them bad reviews for making everything “all about them” instead of just being a friend. Or acting like a good customer service rep.. Because that’s how real friends treat one another.


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