By Rob Long
Martini Shot, broadcast on KCRW
If you’ve called me any time since early last week I probably didn’t get the message. If you left a message there is no way of knowing I have a message waiting for me. My visual voicemail isn’t working. Now this has meant long calls to AT&T customer service during which I’ve been treated politely and with a robotic commitment to the language of customer service.
“It’s my intention to deliver excellent service today”, said one person on the end of the line. “I understand how frustrating your problem can be and I do apologize for the inconvenience”, said another before launching into the same speech the first one did about how we can, “go ahead and perform some trouble shooting actions to better determine the source of the problem”.
Now, I’ve been thanked for my years as an AT&T customer, I’ve been surveyed and questionnaired and thanked again; I’ve been placed momentarily on hold, asked if the customer service representative can call me “Robert”, apologized to for asking for the last four digits of my social security number, twice; thanked for being patient, told that AT&T values my loyalty, educated on the benefits of an international data plan, and asked if I had received excellent service today.
What hasn’t happened, what seems unlikely to ever happen, is getting visual voicemail back. Apparently providing customer service isn’t part of the customer service training. Now, when pressed near end of the fourth call and half way between one of the “thank you’s” and one of the customer satisfaction surveys, I was told this about my voicemail problem: “it’s a known issue”.
A known issue. Meaning it’s a problem, it’s network wide, it’s random, and they know all about it. Being a “known issue” means never having to stop saying “sorry” long enough to fix the problem. Personally I’ll take rude-and-effective over polite-and-impotent any day of the week. But, on the other hand, I’m gonna start using “known issue” in the rest of my life.
“Rob, we think the script could use some work in act 2.” Yes, that’s a known issue. “Rob, we’re not crazy about the opening sequence”. Yes, that’s a known issue. “Rob, it seems you owe a huge amount in back taxes.” Yeah, yeah that’s a known issue. “Rob, you hit my car pulling out of Whole Foods!” Yes, that’s a known issue. “Rob! There’s a dead body in the room and you have a knife in your hand and you are covered in blood!” Yes, that’s a…. known issue. Well, obviously that last one is a step too far. For the rest of the week, at least, I’m gonna see what I can get away with by saying “it’s a known issue”. I mean I’ll have the time.
It’s not like I’ll be returning any phone messages.