January, 2012

Jan 12

Automated Calls Make Me Crazy

Hats off to anyone working in the customer service industry. These people need to have more patience than anyone else on the planet because the majority of those calling to speak with them have a complaint to lodge. And the complainers, generally with good reason, are ready to vent. Such was the case with me the other day…

Customer service reps deal with angry customers more often than not.

I received—correction—my husband received a bill in the mail for using Highway 407 ETR (the world’s first all-electronic open access toll highway). The highway is located just north of Toronto. The bill arrived just as the flurry of December activity and all things holiday began. I normally take care of paying the day-to-day bills but, admittedly, I let this one slip. Seriously, life is too hectic at that time of year to stop and pay a 407 ETR bill!

Anyway, I dutifully sat down at my computer on December 27 and paid the now slightly overdue 407 ETR bill. A few days after I paid the bill in full, we started receiving daily automated calls telling us to pay this overdue 407 ETR bill. I ignored the calls for the first little while because it was the holiday season. I figured things were probably slow in the 407 ETR accounts department and that they’d soon see the error of their ways. The daily automated calls did not stop.

The automated phone calls kept coming... day after day after day.

The last call we received stated that if we did not pay our bill by 4 p.m. that day, our account would be moved to a collection agency. Seriously? One month in arrears, add two weeks for their mistake, and we’re talking collection agency? I was livid!

I picked up the phone and dialed customer service. I could barely punch the numbers into the phone because my hands were trembling out of sheer anger. A female 407 ETR customer service representative with a nasally voice answered. Our conversation went something like this:

407 ETR Rep: How may I help you?
Me: We keep receiving calls, but I paid our bill. Ok, it was a bit late. But I paid. Online. Please check to see that our bill has been paid.
407 ETR Rep: What’s your account number?
Me: Blah, blah, blah.
407 ETR Rep: Your address?
Me: Blah, blah, blah.
407 ETR Rep: The name on the bill?
Me: Ian MacArthur
407 ETR Rep: Your name?
Me: (crap, I’m done) Sigh. Anita MacArthur
407 ETR Rep: You are not Ian MacArthur. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of Mr. MacArthur’s account with you.
Me: (blood boiling, teeth beginning to clench) I realize that I am not Ian MacArthur, but I am his wife and I personally paid the bill in full, so I am asking you to check and make sure that the automated 407 ETR calls stop!
407 ETR Rep: Again, you are not Ian MacArthur. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of Mr. MacArthur’s account with you.
Me: (I am now hissing into the phone) I am not asking you to discuss the details with me. I am telling you that the bill was paid by me with my credit card—the credit card used to pay this bill is in my name: Anita MacArthur. I am asking you to verify—no need to tell me the answer—and mark this bill as paid so the automated phone calls will stop!!!

I hear nothing on the other end of the phone while the very patient-yet-obnoxious 407 ETR representative is listening to a lot of heavy breathing from my end of the phone. Then, after a long pause…

407 ETR Rep: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

I thought my head might explode.

I hung up.

The automated calls, thankfully, have stopped.

Can you relate? Do automated calls make you crazy? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by,


Jan 12

New Year’s Resolution: Did You Make One?

Happy 2012!

With the flip of the calendar to a brand new year, the words NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION are seen and heard everywhere.

Whether you’re listening to the radio, watching television, chatting on Facebook, tweeting, or standing by the proverbial water cooler at work, these words are inescapable at this time of year. They follow you everywhere, like that annoying piece of bubble gum stuck to the sole of your shoe.

If bubble gum looked like this after you step on it, it might not be so annnoying.

I don’t know about you, but the New Year’s resolutions that I make generally have failure written all over them. And so, on December 31st, as I celebrated with family and joined in on the countdown to the New Year, I resolved to not make a New Year’s resolution.

I decided to go against the grain and not make a New Year's resolution for 2012.

I was happy with my decision and fully prepared to see it through until my
nine-year old daughter Ava came home from school yesterday. Her homework assignment was to come up with a New Year’s resolution for herself and list the ways in which she could help herself achieve this resolution.

True to her nature, Ava’s mind was racing with questions:

What’s a New Year’s resolution?
What kinds of New Year’s resolutions do people make?
What should she do to better herself in 2012?
What steps could she take to help herself achieve her resolution?
What is my New Year’s resolution?

Oh boy. This last question caught me off guard. How do you tell your nine-year old daughter that you decided against making a resolution? Especially when you’ve just finished explaining that a New Year’s resolution involves making a promise with yourself to make a lifestyle change that will ultimately lead you on a path to becoming a better person?

We make New Year's resolutions to help ourselves evolve into better human beings.

What to do? Do I make something up? Do I tell her the truth? Or do I go back on my decision and make a resolution? Maybe there’s a way around this… If my New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to not make a resolution of any kind, isn’t that a resolution in and of itself? In other words, if I chose to not partake in this yearly ritual that is practised the world over, does that in effect make me an active participant?

What to do?

Yes! This answer might work—except for one… big… glitch. How does one better himself/herself by not making a New Year’s resolution?

Ding-dang! I better come up with something quick!… What’s your New Year’s resolution?

Thanks for stopping by,