Francis Meyrick

Citizen Kane versus Centurytel (round 1)

Posted on May 31, 2009

Photo by imagesniper

Citizen Kane versus the twenty-seventh floor of “Indifferent, Inc. “

Part (1) Target: CENTURYTEL

or: “an exercise in treating Internet customers with cynical contempt “

I just love it when corporate America demonstrates once again that they really don’t give a rat’s a***.
And that they hope troublesome customers -who demand fair treatment– will simply give up and go away.
Consider that well known Communications giant, CENTURYTEL.
About a year ago, we had a different Internet provider. “Charter “.
The service was not too bad, and we could play YouTube videos and watch video news broadcasts. But it was unreliable when bad weather hit. Just when you really wanted to know what was going on, the Internet would die. Frustrating.
About every week, we could get a phone call at home from some little girl at CENTURYTEL. It got to be annoying. I had to answer the phone, in case it was a work related call. And there would be a little girl from CENTURYTEL again.
Polite requests from us to go away were always ignored. A week later, they would be back on again.
Eventually, we were really frustrated with Charter’s Internet service. It had left us in the lurch once again. The weather had turned sour, and ‘Poof!’ no Internet. Maddening. And of course, there was the seventy eighth phone call in two months from a little girl at CENTURYTEL.
“Well “, I said to her, “You must understand we watch YouTube videos and news videos. We absolutely MUST have that capability. ” She assured me she fully understood. She assured me I would have NO PROBLEM. I emphasized the point. She emphasized it would work just great. I told her I would kick up merry hell if it didn’t. She told me, simultaneously swearing on the Bible, the Koran, the Constitution of the United states, and the latest copy of Mickey Mouse’s Adventures in China, that it would work just fantastically. And that a team of dedicated monastic technicians, working around the clock, would rather commit ritual hara-kiri than allow me to be without my YouTube videos for one second.
Okay, I exaggerate. But only slightly. The point is: she swore to me it was gonna be just fine and dandy.
And the introductory price was cheap. I hesitated. I was suspicious. I had some sixth sense saying it was going to be a total nightmare.
A little voice within. If only- I had listened…
We agreed. We switched internet service provider.
That was a year ago. Since that, we have been played for the Simple Simons we were.
Needless to say, we could not play YouTube videos, or watch news footage. A YouTube video would run about two and a half seconds before stopping. To play a three minute song, you would have to put up with thirty three long pauses. Talk about losing the beat. The service was not just terrible. It was a killer. It just wasn’t worth the frustration.
So I complained.
Then came the run around. The Great CENTURYTEL game their executives on the twenty-seventh floor laughingly call:

“Just baffle ’em with B*****SH******T. “

And that is precisely what they did.
I would call.
They would be so, so sorry. Sympathetic. Promise to look into it and call back.
Nobody would call. The service remained terrible.
A week later, I would call.
They would be so, so sorry. Sympathetic. Promise to look into it and call back.
Nobody would call. The service remained terrible.
I would call.
Amazingly, they would have no record of my ever having called. They would have no record of there having been any problems. So I would have to explain the problem all over again. And again. And again.
They would be so, so sorry. ETC.
Eventually, I demanded to talk to a supervisor. Explained my whole story to her.
You guessed it. She was so, so sorry. Promised to look into it and call back. ETC.
I called back again.
Asked for her. She came on the phone, and quickly dispatched me through to service and repairs.
They fiddled with something while I was on the phone, and told me there was nothing wrong.
I got frustrated.
This whole sorry saga repeated itself over and over again. I would be placed on hold for five minutes, ten minutes, and shuttled around and around. Until I ended up back exactly where I started. The service remained absolutely terrible.
Then,one day, I was put through to service once again. Eureka.
I spoke to a bored, but honest technician.
“Well “, he said.
“I’m not supposed to tell you this, but with the service packet you have, you will never get YouTube videos to play properly. I get calls like this all the time. I’m supposed to refer you back to sales… “
Now I was really ticked off. Back to service. Yes, for an extra $$$$$ per month, they could do blah-blah-blah.
I was friggin’ well promised that service when I signed up!
Oh, NO! said the supervisor frostily. That would NEVER have happened.
Yes it BLOODY well DID, I said.
Well, she said haughtily, as if she had finally got proof that I was a dirty low-born liar, “all our phone calls are RECORDED. We can play it back and see! ” There was a note of triumph in her voice.
I said: “Great! ” With undisguised satisfaction in MY voice. “You DO that! And call me back! “
She must have picked up on the level of confidence in my voice.
For, quickly, she added a caveat.
It might take her “a few weeks “to locate the tape!
And, yes, you guessed it: she never called back. That was months ago.
So I decided on drastic action; I stopped paying the bill.
After two months, I had run up a decent bill.
Now I phoned customer service and told them I was not paying the bill until I got satisfaction.
(There is a great song about that…!)
A young lady by the name of Letitia was polite, but also confirmed she could see nothing on the file about my ever having called before with complaints about the service. Of course not. But the fact that I was withholding payment, that got me transferred re-mar-kably quickly to a gentleman called Trey.
He explained to me that he represented “the next level of escalation ” in the “internal resource center “.
Amazing what happens when you refuse to pay the bill…
I explained the whole sorry saga to him. A year’s worth of misery and frustration.
He kindly explained that there are different levels of bandwidth:
the lowest being 256 K “high speed Internet ” (a definite misnomer)
followed by:
512 Kilobyte
1.5 Megabyte
3.0 Megabyte
6.0 megabyte
10.0 Megabyte

Guess what I was on?
256 K. The lowest level of bandwidth…
Surprise, surprise.
He told me flat out that “streaming video ” was an impossibility with a 256 Kilobyte so-called “High Speed Internet ” connection.
So what’s so “High Speed ” about it???
So, Mister Trey, I said. I’m a Dufus. An admitted Dinosaur. But:
1) why didn’t the little girl at the very start of this great big long sorry saga NOT bother to tell me there were different levels of bandwidth?
2) why did she repeatedly assure me I could play YouTube videos and news videos?
3) why did that supervisor not explain to me about the different bandwidths?
4) why did that supervisor never call me back when she promised to go and look out the audio recording of the initial sales call??
5) Can you understand I feel that CENTURYTEL have treated me with complete contempt?????

Yes, he said, he could understand that perfectly. It wasn’t right. This type of pressure marketing was downright misleading. Well, he could do something for me. For the same money, he could change my package, and give me 1.5 Megabyte of bandwidth.
Hmmm…. I said. And then I can play YouTube videos and watch news reels?
Yes, he said.
Hmmm…. I said. Do you have an extension there?
No, he said. Unfortunately not.
Yeah, right.
My Trey, I said, I will take your word for it. And here’s my credit card number, and I will pay the two months arrears on my bill. BUT. If this goes pear shaped AGAIN, I will raise merry hell. Anyway I can.
Oh, No, I assure you, he said. It will work just fine.

That was a week ago. It worked just fine for five days. We could play YouTube videos, and enjoy the music.
We watched CNN news footage. We even had a drink to celebrate. I felt emotional. It had taken us a year of frustration, but -by jingo- we had finally gotten there.

Until yesterday. The weekend. I’m home, and I want to relax. I don’t want to be back to stuffing pins in VooDoo doll effigies of CENTURYTEL execs… But all day yesterday and today the YouTube videos I tried to watch stopped every two or three seconds. Try listening to music that way…
I seem to remember my old 56K modem connection – a century ago- being far faster than that.

So CENTURYTEL made a monkey out of me again.
Well, I look forward to the phone call I shall be making tomorrow.
And the nice little girl, all puzzled, who will in vain search the computer screen for any mention of any problem EVER BEFORE for my account.

I wonder who I will get tomorrow? And what the story will be then?
After one year of CENTURYTEL.
Who deserve my Gold Star Award.

Stand by for Part TWO….

Francis Meyrick

(alias Citizen Kane)

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 4, 2009, 10:41 pm

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2 responses to “Citizen Kane versus Centurytel (round 1)”

  1. OH, heavens to Betsy. That is horrible. But you tell it with such a heroic humor, that I can both empathize with your pain, and be amused by the repeated trauma enforced by all the lying bastards going up against your stubborn and acute justice. Attack!

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