Monday, April 09, 2007

Comcast and the Call Center Universe....

There's something else I'd rather talk about than having heard the interview on radio this morning.

When I first got up, I wandered out to the computer room with my eyes half closed and my usual stumbling around like I'm drunk routine. Glancing over at the computer, I noticed that there were only 20 emails waiting which is about one fifth (okay.. no more drinking references) of what I usually have.

The Internet was down.

I have Comcast High Speed and there has only been one time when it had anything to do with our network here. It's usually an area-wide outage.

I got on the phone. Not always the best idea when I first wake up. If I'm going to be cranky, it's always first thing. Getting up, being half blind and trying to orient myself to time and place is a challenge. I admit it.

After getting through the multi-layered call distribution system (yes, I want to speak English, yes, my Internet is down, yes, I booted my modem, yes, I rebooted my system.. you bloody bastard!), punching ones and twos and using the f-word a time or two, I finally got a human being, a real person and he was in this country.

Glory be! Blessings abound!

I told him the situation and he suggested a few things to me. I tried them. Still no Internet. He told me that he could send out a technician tomorrow.

"Not an option," I said. One of my housemates is a tax preparer and she needs the Internet to e-file for her clients.

We went 'round and 'round about that for a few minutes and he finally flicked a switch or something. For some reason, he was able to find me an appointment for this morning.

Glory be!

But the interesting thing about this interaction is that we began chatting off-topic. Since I know something about call centers, I told him to turn off the recording device since I know supervisors listen in unless the customer says he or she does not want to be recorded.

He caught on. He's a sharp .. dare I say it? ... dude.

He told me how he had been an executive level credit department manager until a few years ago when his company outsourced. He lost his job. His wife is ill. His son was murdered a few years ago.

This guy has tolerated more in 3 years than most of us can tolerate in a lifetime!

He's 60 years old. Due to corporate outsourcing, he has lost his pension, lost his house in Southern California and now finds himself in West Texas working at some lousy call center for 9.00 an hour.

"That's just plain wrong," I said. "It's worse than wrong. It's amoral!"

He knew what I was saying and we continued talking in an unspoken code. He knew I understood his situation and he knew how incensed I was about it. He appreciated the understanding. I could tell. It was something in his voice.

"How's your wife doing with all this," I asked.

He told me that his wife has had a very hard time accepting the death of their son. She's attempted suicide more than once.

She's bipolar.

She's trying to get SSDI.

SSDI would make their world such a better place to live. Even a measly $1500.00 a month on her end would make his salary and her income into a liveable financial situation. As he said, "At least I could take her out to dinner occasionally."

I should mention here that I am a fairly decent judge of character and I believed every word this guy said.

I asked about his wife's SSDI process and how far along she's gotten, etc. He told me.

When I went through that process, I had an advocate. I recommend it to anyone who has to go through it. He had no idea how to get one for his wife.

"I'll do it," I said. I still don't know where that came from! It was instinct. I will call her on the phone and I will walk her through the process.

At any rate, I told him to stop talking, pick up a pen and get ready to write. I gave him my personal email address. He wrote it down. I told him to write me soon and I would talk with his wife, give her some pointers on how to deal with the Social Security folks.

After all they've been through, they deserve a break. Truly. I believe that! If I was rich, it wouldn't be an issue. I'd more than gladly write them a check every month.

Meanwhile, my stomach is still burning with disgust and fury over the way corporations are permitted to treat employees. Like Kali enticing us to the rocky coast, they paint a beautiful picture and then lead us straight to disaster. It is immoral. And it's amoral. And it's unacceptable.

There's got to be a special place in hell....




meno said...

Thank you for talking with that man like that Chani. I hope he contacts you and that you can help him.

I'm glad you were there.

Our internet is down too, i am at the local library.

Lucia said...

I imagine he was grateful just to have real human contact since call centers are set up from clipped conversations about one topic. You're a good woman. I keep thinking if we all just keep taking small steps in the right direction, we may make a difference with all those little ripples.

Anvilcloud said...

Remind to stay on your good side, eh?

flutter said...

I wish I knew what to say.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Social Security turns down everyone the first time in hopes of discouraging them from trying again. It is a difficult and time-consuming process because our government really does not want to help its citizens.

It is far more interested in destroying those of other countries with our money.

I hope that with your help, these people can get what they need to survive.

Has it occurred to you, Chani, that perhaps you are not yet in Thailand because you are still needed here?

Thailand Gal said...

Susan, I know how difficult Social Security can be. Jeez. I was awarded on my first try but that is probably because I had an advocate. I was told what to write, how to write it and what words to use.

I hope, truly, that I am able to help Jim's wife. That would feel very good to me to know she is okay.

Needed here? Scary thought, that! I can't imagine anything I can do here that I couldn't do from Thailand. :)

There are times when it seems strange to me. Yes. Definitely. Thailand is home. I belong there. Not here. This place drains my energy.




jen said...

imagine the gift you gave him, chani...amidst all the other people he has to deal with, you stuck out like a beacon.

you get 100 emails a day? wow.

Thailand Gal said...

Jen... Yahoogroups. :)


Laurie said...

Your kindness probably changed a families life, Chani. You are a great woman and I am proud to know you.

QT said...

Chani - God, kudos to you! I just feel like it shouldn't be so hard to just live.

Anonymous said...

There's a very simple way to help that man and millions like him. Vote out the Republicans.

Penny. said...

There was a reason your internet was down, Chani.

Blessings to you.

I can't wait to read more.

Pam said...

The forward motion of personal helps to balance the corporate crap.

slouching mom said...

What a wonderful thing to do. What a wonderful person you are.

Caro said...

I love stories like this. And I am still naive enough to believe that sometimes, these random acts of kindness can set a chain of kindness in motion.

When I have conversations with my Conservative friends, I always refer to cases like these to validate my point...

Thailand Gal said...

Meno, I hope he contacts me, too. One of the things that concerns me is the need for "pride" in thsi culture, something that might make him reluctant to contact me. That unfortunately hurts all of us.


Lucia, my thinking exactly. If we just help each other, we won't have to depend on corrupt power structures that will never serve us well.


Anvil, as much as I hate to admit it, I have a strong impatient streak.. especially with those things I consider to be stupid... like call distribution software that intentionally discourages people from calling and getting solutions to their problems.


Flutter.. whatever you're thinking.. that's what you say. :)


Jen, I get all those emails from Yahoogroups. Nope. I will never be the sort of person to get 100 personal emails a day. LOL And that's probably a good thing! I'd get overwhelmed.


Thanks, Laurie. I appreciate the sentiment. What made me write this is just that I can not believe that we all stand by and let these toxic, sick, twisted and evil corporations treat us like this.

It drove me insane at one time. Is that what it will take before people wake up?


QT, amen.. amen.. and amen! It shouldn't be so hard. Truly.

The seventh rung...


Anonymous, it's not just an American issue.. and god save us from an American solution!


Penny, I think things like that, too. It's just weird how that happened. When I got off the phone, the Internet was back up.


Pam, I hope so. What concerns me is that they have so much power.. and can bully or entice so many people to support them. Geez, talk about the AntiChrist!


Slouching mom, thanks for the compliment. I am not any more wonderful than anyone else. :)


Caro, in a sense, it is compassionate conservatism. Compassionate conservatism has some merit.. as long as people will practice it.


Thanks, everyone... very much :)



KC said...

Wow. I can't believe your conversation. Yes, Jim is blessed to have you on the other end. I hope you can help them.