I have spent several hours in the past few weeks in one of my least favorite places. For many, this would be the dentist's office, their in-laws house or even the gynecologist. For me, it is the technical service department at your local Verizon Wireless store or as I like to call, the godless wasteland devoid of complex thought or communication…department.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of visiting this hell hole, let me describe it. You are greeted by a clean-cut, well-dressed salesman who asks politely "How can I help you today?" As it turns out, this is just a cruel setup. The instant you pull a broken cell-phone from your pocket, this previously chipper gentleman assumes the look and posture of a casket barer. He turns ominously and points a long boney finger toward the dark cavern in the back of the store where only those employees with an IQ of 40 or below are allowed to work. "Technical Service!" echoes from the dark void where his face used to be but no lips move and his eyes appear to be rolled back in his head.
This is where things begin to get frustrating. The first step in the process is to put your name on the clipboard that determines who gets their intelligence insulted next. Then you sit and wait. This is perhaps the most time consuming part of the process because one staff-member with an IQ of 40 is not capable of helping anyone, all five or six employees must work together on every customer's complaint. The average wait time for this is somewhere between 40 minutes and nine hours.
Now up until this point, I have exaggerated just a bit. This next part however, I swear on my life is true. In all the hours I spent in this place, over the course of three different visits, I heard the technical staff tell customers only three things no matter what their problem: One, "Well all signs point to it should be working, so I don't know why it isn't;" two, "It seems to be working now;" and three, "Let me ask someone else." These statements are made while performing one of the most ridiculously moronic diagnostic routines I have ever seen. The employee in charge, while wearing the expression of a chimpanzee doing a calculus problem, opens and closes the phone repeatedly, turning the phone on and off, blowing on the phone and then making a few calls.
When this delicate process fails to fix the phone, they next take it into the "back room," which is only accessible by key card, to charge it (yes, they really try charging it.) This begs two questions: Which sucker trains these people to use a key card and how the hell is charging the phone going to help?!? Do they really think I haven't tried opening and closing the phone or I can't figure out how to charge it? I want to meet the guy who says "Oh! Charging the battery never thought of that" because if he does really exist, I will promptly punch him in the face!
Once the phone is determined truly broken, there are only two things left for the stellar Verizon staff to do: Figure out how to use the computer and charge you lots of money. In my case (the ear piece was broken) I could either spend a lot of money on a headset and never use the phone without it or I could spend even more for a replacement phone. Once again logic and common sense were lost on these people and an attempt to explain my mom and sister received free replacements after the same problem went unheard. Not weeks before, they were told it was a faulty design in this particular model and were simply handed new phones. I, however, was the lucky recipient of a $50 refurbished replacement.
"Fine," I thought to myself "at least I will get out of here today with a new phone." I never should have been so naive.
I should have known early on they wouldn't have my phone in stock and it would be another week before one arrived. My spirits were lifted however, when I discovered my lovely time in this particular store (College Ave. and Horsetooth Road) was not through. I was informed after receiving my new phone I would have to bring it back to the store to activate it and then drive to my local Fed Ex pickup site and ship the broken phone back to Verizon (probably so they could try opening and closing it a few more times in a final ditch effort to repair the blown speaker.) I now know exactly how those people who get the wrong leg amputated and are still forced to pay the medical bills feel.
Over the course of my lifetime I will probably hand over somewhere in the vicinity of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Verizon Wireless. And it now seems they couldn't care less if I was happy with them; the art of customer service is truly dead.
So the next time you are getting your finger nails pulled out with a pair of pliers or your radiator cap blows off and blasts you in the face with boiling hot antifreeze, just remember, it could be worse. You could have a broken cell phone.
Ryan Chapman is a senior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.