Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For "Other" Press Six

Thanks to Kerrie for her post on technological advances. I think I'm going to piggyback on that topic.

Note: Today's a grumble day, so if you want writing, come back tomorrow.

After a productive weekend, I was looking forward to yet another day of relative quiet. Only one of the workers was scheduled, and he was going to be doing electrical and touch-up painting, which meant another day free from floorboard pounding.

When he called early Monday morning, saying his daughter had an ear infection and he couldn't make it, I wasn't the least bit bothered. Another full day to myself (Hubster left Friday for a meeting in Laramie, and won't be back until tomorrow afternoon.)

I followed my morning routine, checking blogs and email, and then worked on the scene I'd written the night before. It needed some tweaks, and didn't end in the right place, but I felt pretty good when I'd fixed it. I like knowing I have a good long stretch of time to write when I start on new stuff, so I decided to plan my day. I prefer to get the little things out of the way, then settle in with the WIP.

I'd had problems with my cell phone, and after much (90 minutes) of hair-pulling time last Friday trying to resolve it, they said I needed a new phone (my second replacement). Since I had to be home to sign for it, Monday, I called Verizon to get a tracking number. It took about 10 minutes on a phone tree before I got to a human being. Granted, she was very helpful, but the questions you have to answer to get to a human never seem to have numbers that match my problems. And it took her about 1 minute to answer my question (the phone will be delivered Tuesday). That's 11 minutes of MY time for a 1 minute issue.

Used to be you could enter zero at all the prompts and get to a live person, but the companies have wised up, I think.

Later that day, my land line goes dead. I get the number for repair and try to call from my cell phone which doesn't get much of a connection. There are NO human options in that system. The phone should be fixed no later than 8 PM the following day. But the only contact number I could give was my cell phone, which may or may not pick up a signal. Which, if you'll continue reading, isn't a viable option at the moment.

I mean, but it's bad enough that robots MAKE calls. Now they're taking over answering all the questions—but they're not programmed to do it effectively.

But – I could still write, right? Yeah, right. Remember what I said about liking nice stretches of time where I wouldn't get sidetracked. … there were a few little things to get out of the way first. I figured, half an hour, tops.

The mail brought a notice from the insurance company saying I owed them $33. I ALWAYS pay in full, and heaven only knew which of the myriad paper piles their invoice was in, so I had to see what that was about. At least my insurance agent's office employs humans, so that was resolved without any difficulty beyond lousy cell reception.

Then I needed to find out if our new medical insurance has a mail-order prescription option. Their recording lady couldn't understand any of my answers (lousy cell connection) and we spent far too much time not communicating. I did hear a prompt about mail order, so I went to the website and got what I needed. Following web links is only a tiny bit easier than phone trees. Of course, my printer ran out of paper, and I had to open a new ream, which was sealed tighter than (insert metaphor here, because I'm so NOT going there right now).

Then my computer alerted me that my keyboard batteries were critical. I found the new ones, inserted them, and … my keyboard batteries are still critical. I took them out, tested them, and they're all fine. This time I went straight to the web for an answer. Which was, open the .xml file change this line of code to that line, and it should work. Well, it got rid of the pop-up alert, but if I check the readout on their "settings" program, it still says critical. Another email sent.

By now, it's almost 5 pm on Monday, and what have I done? Punched numbers on phone trees.

So, yesterday, I finally get my new phone. I swap out the battery and s/d card and get a "no service, your phone cannot be activated, please call customer service." Call them? On what! Now I have No Friggin' Phone at all. Or, you can visit our website. Yeah, right. After entering a 14 digit serial number it tells me, "Congratulations! Your phone is eligible for activation. Please choose a service plan." WTF? I HAVE a service plan. And after I filled out the "Send us an email" contact option, they're probably going to decide I'm not worthy of one of their phones anyway.

The other piece of mail was from AmEx saying that they'd tried to send my statement via email, but it hadn't gone through. More time digging through their website (no phone to call them). Since the website confirmed I'd already paid the bill, and my 'punishment' if emails continued to bounce would be back to paper statements, I figured I was OK, although there was more time spent NOT writing.

I'm writing this at 2:30 pm on Tuesday. I've decided there's nothing more that can distract me. No phone calls, I've dealt with the mail. All I have to do is lay off the email and social networks. And get back to the WIP. I'll let you know tomorrow how it went. And I hope it goes well, because as you're reading this, the workers should be back to installing floors.


Mason Canyon said...

I hate days like you had. I can't stand automated services. You're right, there is never a number that fits with the problem you're having. Hopefully today will be much better.

Thoughts in Progress

Carol Kilgore said...

I've had way more days like that than I'd like over the past two years, so I know how high your frustration level was. Mine always seem to happen when it's a day I think I will accomplish a lot. Silly, silly me.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I can not stand days like that! When it rains, it pours. And just when you think you're putting out one fire, another one sparks right up...

Terry Odell said...

Mason - the trouble with those automated systems is that you're at the mercy of someone thinking they can anticipate all questions--it's not only phone systems. I've had many a boiler-plate answer to an email to customer service that picked up a key word but didn't come close to addressing the real question.

Terry Odell said...

Carol--agreed; if it had happened on a day like today, when workers are here and I know I can't get much done, I might not have been so frustrated. Of course, with all the noise, talking on the phone would have been impossible anyway!

Elizabeth - yes, so true. It's like that piece of paper that's been in your way for weeks, and then you need it, and it's gone.

Lou Belcher said...

The best thing about a day like that is that tomorrow will be a new day. Hope it goes better for you.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Lou - if you don't count the construction noise, the smell of varnish, and the rejection letter, today's going just great.

Debra St. John said...

It always seems to be something doesn't it?

What's that line about "the best laid plans"?

Kathy said...

Oh I know how those phone trees are I had a round with TXU Electric here while back. I hung up was fuming at my niece and she told me keep saying "customer service, please" eventually you get through to a live person. It worked except I get Mujabi in India so I asked him to speak slowly, us TExas Folks speak slow you know we gotta hear it slow too, and I jotted his name down. I explained what I had done was paid an old bill, I had kept on hand to use as proof of expenses and so we paid, Aug of 09 again and April of 2010 now what could they do to fix it? He assured me they'd fix it. In the meantime we paid May's bill. By the time I got the bill for the end of May I had moved. All the payments were credited and we owed a mere $88 then three days later here we get another bill. It is my FINAL bill from when they cut it off when we moved.This one shows they owe us $176 and I'm like wait I thought we owed you. Then I came back and studied it and went oh they gave us credit for our deposit and everything now they owe us. DOwn here there are no landlines everyone uses cell phones. That is an adjustment.

Terry Odell said...

Kathy - it's always nice to get money back as a reward for putting up with all the hassle.

If we had to rely on only cell phones here, half the time we couldn't make or get calls. Too many ups and downs in the mountains.

Sheila Deeth said...

Funny. My son tells me of similar days, and we even shared one with him while we helped him move.

Kerrie said...

I agree with Lou---there is always tomorrow, but these kind of days definitely stink. Hopefully the return of the pounding on the floorboards noise will stir up your creative energy again.