Friday, June 28, 2013

Customer Service...Call Me!

As quality customer service slowly declines across this great nation and perhaps all of north america every now and then an experience comes along that puts a smile on one's face. I called AT&T with a question about my bill. After traversing the numerous yet joyous prompts I made it to level two. Not familiar with level two? Oh, allow me: level two is the fun experience where the customer enjoys a 12 second piece of muzak. This little ditty loops relentlessly until the representative comes on the line or the customer briefly slips into insanity before dying a very slow death. After 9 minutes of the 12 second loop of Lady Ga Ga's muzak-ed Poker Face, I got Tina.

We do the 'who are you?' dance which entails password, phone number and partial SS# and voila I'm at level three...or perhaps four. Either way I'm at the level where I'm granted the glorious privilege of asking my question. Tina was very helpful and even answered my 'small talk' question. (This would require her to abandon the company script. Oh, yeah I push boundaries like that).

After much ado about much ado, we were approaching the finish line. My question answered; I felt a pleasant time was had by all. It almost felt as though we'd gone on a first date where dinner was scrumptious after which I received a tender goodnight kiss at the door. As the 'good byes' were about to be exchanged she hit me with a curveball which naturally I was forced to run with. Below is how it played out with close to 95% accuracy. Enjoy:

" AT&T we strive to bring you quality (blah, blah, blah)--"

"Ok, thank you," I reply.

"Is there anything that might come up within the next 30 days that I can help you with now?"

I heard the question loud and clear and baby did I need to play with it. "Excuse me?" I reply coyly.

She repeats the question in the exact same way to which I respond, "Are you asking if I have a question in the future would I like the opportunity to ask it now?"

"Yes," she said.

"I know what's going on here you're tired of my shit, y'all don't want me calling for a month, is that what's going on?"

"No," she giggles. "I was just wondering if there was anything I could help you with now that may come up within the next thirty days?" Clearly she didn't think I was grasping the concept of her question. Clearly this called for more playtime.

"Is this call recorded for quality assurance?" I ask.

"Yes sir."

"So that means I'm on record saying the word 'shit'."

"Yes sir, you are."

"Shit, oops I did it again," I said which brought more giggling. "Let me get this straight baby doll, you're wondering if I can look into the future, have a problem and figure out my question now, is that it?"

"Well no I was just--"

"What if a guy like me has a question two weeks from now, are you telling me I have to wait another 14 days before I can call you people back?"

I really had her laughing now. "No sir not at all. What I mean is--"

"Suppose I have an extremely urgent issue 29 days from now can I call one minute after midnight or do I have to wait until the following morning--day 30?"

"No, no you can call anytime we at AT&T are happy to have you as a customer. I was just asking if there is--"

"I know, I know ask now or hold onto my shit for at least 30 days. I can dig it. By the way I said that word again."

She was totally cracking up by this time which meant I had her where I wanted her.

"I know what's really going on here. You dig me. You're totally into me and you just want to keep me on the phone. Is it my voice?" I ask. She kept laughing. "You're going to listen back to this tape aren't you? Ha ha. Tina this is serious customer service baby."

"Sir please no, I there anything else I can help you with today?"

"No I'm good and I'll try not to call back before my 30 days are up."

"Sir, it's OK!" she practically shouted through her laughter. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"You didn't say the 30 day part," I teased.

"I'm, I'm not going to anymore. You have a pleasant day, please no texting and driving and please feel free to call us anytime if you have any questions."

"Are you going to listen back to my tape when we hang up or wait until your lunch break?" I asked.

"Good bye Mr. Brown," she said with a sigh.

And that's how it went down. Calling any big company these days can be a nightmare, we all know that. My advice is if ever you see an opening for what I call 'playtime'. Carpe Diem baby!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hollywood, Enough with the comic book flicks already!

Hollywood can we please move on from the comic book movies? In April of 2012, I mistakenly bought into the hype that the Avengers was going to be awesome. It didn't take long before I asked myself, 'why and I here? This is pure crap.' Other than a few decent lines delivered by the great Robert Downey Jr. the only entertainment was hearing my wife sigh and roll her pretty little eyes. (And yes I could hear the eyes roll, we're connected like that).

Later I asked myself why I went to the movie. Was it the hype? Was it the star studded cast? And then it hit me like a left hook to the chin. I'm an action guy and guys like me love action. I've been an action guy since my old man used to take me to Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson flicks. Looking back it may have been inappropriate for a 6 year old to watch Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry blowing bad guys away with his 44 magnum but I thought it was awesome...still do. But it is action that Cats like me seek. Sadly cop movies and good Westerns are in limited supply these days. Hence, there you have a cool Cat with his hot wife eating popcorn and watching 'men in tights' essentially. It's not fair. This is injustice. I don't want shiny costumes on near invisible dudes that can fly. I/we want tough cops kicking in doors, sliding over car hoods and NOT calling for back-up. Are you telling me that these movies are gone? That they have been done to death? Nay, I say, nay! Give guys like me a half decent story, fast cars and the whoever-actor and let's go. But no, Hollywood of no imagination is all about the bottom line $$$ and somehow you grown-up comic book geeks who would give your go to Comicon have rallied and cried loud and long enough to bend Hollywood's ear. Studios have sent out armies of scouts to scour the libraries of DC and Marvel to bring them characters and (dare I say it) stories?

For a moment there was light at the end of my action movie tunnel for many of these comic book films were flops. For example The Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens and Captain America. And G.I. Joe starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was shot, advertised and then shelved 3 weeks prior to it's 2012 summer release as the studio didn't think it could compete with other summer flicks. (It was later released and I admit--to some box office success). But then along came the box office juggernaut that was The Avengers and set the comic book movie party into a frenzy. Now we have Man Of Steel, up, up and a-friggin'-way, Oh joy! Plus Ironman 3 and...wait for it, another Avengers movie on the way releasing 2015.

This is an official call to arms to all action guys and action gals. We need to take back the cop and robber streets. Corral the horses and put cowboys on them. (I know, I know Disney is doing The Lone Ranger...for the love of Christmas that ain't what we're after either). We need to storm the Hollywood Bastille. We need to strategize in full stategistical strategery. We need to grab Hollywood by the ears and 'bad cop it' until our films return to the silver screen. To all of you so-called grown men that continue to pick up the comic book, attend Comicon and play video games either turn in your man cards or pull up your big boy pants and act like men! Demand that Hollywood bring back martial art, cop and Western movies. If you don't do this all that you know...will be at an end.

How Meter Maids killed Manhattan Beach parts 1 and 2

Below is a letter I sent to the City Of Manhattan Beach after receiving a parking ticket. The lot contained meters and in every way appeared to be a standard 2hr metered lot. However, the fine print revealed that it was an employee lot--7 days a week. It was Sunday when we parked. Sigh...

Violation #: 61040632 Lot 1
June 6/ 2013           

To Whom It May Concern:

I write to you concerning a parking violation I received Sunday June 2/2013. The ticket was issued because I parked in a lot that is reserved for merchants only. This was merely a mistake. Both my wife and I missed the sign. Manhattan Beach being a difficult city to find parking found us overjoyed when we found a lot with a meter. I assure you we were not attempting to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, which is why we paid for two hours and returned before the meter expired.

A few months earlier I received a ticket for failing to curb my wheels. Even though the signage was diminutive at best, I simply paid the fine and moved on. It seems Manhattan Beach is the only beach city that hits me in my pocket book. On this recent occasion my wife and I ate a delicious meal at the newly opened Fishing With Dynamite restaurant. After lunch my wife purchased a tunic from one of your local shops. In early May I performed at a charity event for one of Manhattan Beach’s local schools.  So as you can see my wife and I contribute to the Manhattan Beach economy as well as the community and are happy to do so. However, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one returns to a meter with time remaining to find a big bright ticket on the windshield.

I don’t deny parking in the wrong spot, and as I said it was an honest mistake; but I ask that you consider throwing the ticket out or at the very least reducing the $48 ticket to a more reasonable amount.

Thank you for your time,

As it turned out the great city of MB did not throw the ticket out nor did they reduce the amount. Below is my response...

Adjudication Processing Dept.                                            
Manhattan Beach Processing Ctr                                        
P.O. Box 1109                                                                    
Tustin CA                                                                               

June 25th/ 2013

Dears Madams/Sirs

Attached to this letter/payment is my previous letter with regard to my ticket (citation # 61040632). If one were to take the time to read letter #1 they’d find that the letter is polite and courteous. It is a document where I simply throw myself ‘on the mercy of the court’ so to speak. In the letter I do not deny the parking violation. I point out that my wife and I not only bring commerce to your city but I have also done charity work in Manhattan Beach.

As to your response: I cannot claim surprise when I see that not only is there no reduction in the ticket charge but your response arrived in typical bourgoeise bureaucratic unimaginative dimwitted city-speak. To wit “After careful review we have determined that the citation is valid”.

If you had taken the time to read the letter you would see that at no time was I questioning the validity of the over priced citation. I approached as a decent tax-paying individual and simply asked ‘have a heart.’ Show a sliver of compassion for a guy that made a simple mistake. Give a guy who helped raise money for a Manhattan Beach elementary school, a break. How about a reduction in fee for decent folk that have sunk thousands of dollars into your city’s businesses? But no such luck. No can do. You at Manhattan Beach Processing are by the book and the book says suck, squeeze and siphon as many pennies from all who visit no matter what. Revenue is revenue. The bottom line is the bottom line.

I caution you extortionists for you are putting an ugly face on your fair city. We the people have choices in Hermosa, Redondo and El Segundo and perhaps we’ll exercise our choice and move on. And when the masses vacate (which you will have driven away one vehicle at a time), it will be your local businesses that will suffer—and then close. Next, property values will plummet and finally the once great city of Manhattan Beach will crumble like a city in a Michael Bay movie. When the smoke clears and the forensic crew picks through the rubble all will be revealed: the meter maids (and meter maid-men) and pathetic pencil pushers destroyed the once great city of Manhattan Beach.

Does this seem farfetched? Perhaps. Be that as it may, we bid thee farewell Manhattan Beach, my wife and I are done with you. But before you utter ‘good riddance’ know this; both letters are going on my blog where I have countless followers. It’s also going to be shared on Facebook where my hundreds of friends will tell two friends…and so on. Let us not forget the abridged version, which I’ll be sharing on Twitter. Shh, do you hear that? That’s the sound of the exodus.

Formerly a patron (while still a Patriot),