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Maddening Customer Service Day

September 9, 2009

07metrocard.1.largeI love good customer service. I manage a small customer service department, I read almost countless blogs about great service, bad service, CS impact on the bottom line, CS as marketing – whatever. And I don’t expect excellence everywhere (although I certainly appreciate it when I get it!) but what I really, really can’t stand is when a customer service experience that could have been just average actually makes my life more difficult. Like today’s series of incredibly irritating events.

Lately my Metrocard (NYC’s transit pass-type thing) has been working on the bus, but not the subway. It’s obviously defective in some way, so I called WageWorks to see if I can resolve the issue. WageWorks is the company that my company uses for TransitCheck or whatever the tax-deductible travel thing is. Anyway, the way it works is that WageWorks issues me a “Commuter Card” which is like a debit card that I can use to purchase Metrocards, railroad tickets, etc.  So, I bought the Metrocard from the MTA using my Commuter Card.

When I called yesterday, I had this long conversation with a rep at WageWorks who was very nice. I explained my situation several times, and she said that she would issue me a replacement monthly card. I was confused by that, since they never issued me a Metrocard, so a replacement wouldn’t make sense. I confirmed that she was sending me a Metrocard, and said that I would use the balance on my Commuter Card (from an HR nightmare story from years ago) that I had in order to purchase a Metrocard in the meantime, since my replacement won’t get here for 3 weeks.

Fine. Annoying, but my solution seemed to make sense. So, as I went into the subway last night and tried to use my Commuter Card (which has at least $95 on it) to purchase my temporary Metrocard ($45) it kept being declined. I had to buy a cheap-o card out of my own pocket in order to get home and back to work this morning.

I get in to work, and call WageWorks to figure out why my card is being declined. Both the new rep and her supervisor explained to me that they were sorry, but the representative must have misunderstood me, and she cancelled my Commuter Card, and was mailing me a replacement. I was apparently supposed to call the MTA to have the defective card replaced. Which makes sense, but being told that yesterday would have been nice. So, since it was obvious that I didn’t need a new Commuter Card, since mine worked perfectly fine until this woman turned it off, through no instruction of my own, since I even told her that I would be using it later that day to purchase another Metrocard – it made sense that they could just turn it back on, right? Wrong. Not only could they not do that, but they couldn’t expedite the card they were sending me. All they could offer was a “sorry” and “if you have to buy something, call us to ask for a form, then fax it in, then we will reimburse you.”

To recap – when I called them yesterday I had a debit card with almost $100 of my own money on it for transit expenses and a defective Metrocard. By the time I got off the phone with them, I had a useless piece of plastic and a defective Metrocard.

I called the MTA and they gave me instructions to “find a station agent to get an envelope” and mail in my defective card.  By the way, I have never seen a station agent. Apparently, any envelope will do. I think/hope.  A new card will be mailed to me in … you guessed it – two to three weeks.

Wageworks offered me the mailing address of their Executive Escalation Department, but since I am sure that will also take two to three weeks, I try calling them. The rep there said they don’t normally take calls, but she will try to have someone get back to me within 48 hours. Defeated but hopeful, I gave her my cell number.

I take my cell phone out of my pocket, to find that the battery is totally drained. Which it shouldn’t be. It especially shouldn’t be since this is a brand new phone and battery because my battery would totally randomly drain on my old phone, so Verizon recently replaced the whole thing (two days before my warranty expired!) So then I called Verizon up. The super-friendly guy said that this was not a reported issue with this phone, and he suspects that the problem wasn’t my phone or battery, but my charger.  He was shocked I didn’t bring that in with me when I had my phone replaced, or that they didn’t ask to see or test it. So, he thinks thats the problem, and now I have to bring in my charger to be tested. If it fails the test, I have to buy another one. It’s not covered by warranty. I don’t even want to think about what happens if the charger is fine. Probably another very long, angry post.

So, while this is going on I charge the phone using my friend’s charger. In the span of one or two hours, I have a missed call. You guessed it – from the Executive Escalation Department at Wageworks. So for now, phone tag. Hopefully I will have a happy resolution to report on both counts by tomorrow.

Update: Michelle at Wageworks has been in touch with me all day. She was really great, and was trying to figure out if they could reverse the cancellation, or something else. When all was said and done, the outcome is that they will overnight a check to my office a refund of my balance (the $95) , so that I could use that money to buy a Metrocard.  She is also having that Commuter Card express delivered, so that would be here on Friday. And then, life should continue as normal.

What drives me nuts is how great and effective Michelle was. Why couldn’t the rep and the supervisor have been this helpful? Not empowered? Not motivated?

Unrelated to Wageworks – I’ll just buy a new charger somewhere. If that doesn’t work, I am defecting and buying a iPhone.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2009 10:03 pm

    I probably shouldn’t laugh, but I have so been there recently! I work in HR and so I e-mail employee terminations to our computer support team so they can deactivate accounts and e-mails and whatever. The computer people, however, have decided not one or two, but three times that because I’m SENDING the request, clearly I am the one terminating (in what world does that make sense?). I was terminated for the third time about a month ago and ever since then my e-mail hasn’t worked. Which is fine, less e-mail, yay! But my coworkers don’t appreciate the delivery failed notifications. Also, I now know everyone on the computer support team by name and major (they’re all college students) and the dread my phone calls. Hooray for helpful, misinformed people! Good luck on your new cards (o:

  2. September 10, 2009 10:07 am

    GAH. Why do people make things so much harder than they need to be!?!?!? I feel your pain. 😦

  3. September 14, 2009 1:10 pm

    Yikes. But maybe your persistence has made a difference……. Still, a lot of effort/hassle for a thing that *should* be simple.

  4. September 16, 2009 3:50 pm

    Good gracious. Why is it that we can never get the good customer service person first?!?! You gotta go through the bad apples to get to the good one at the bottom of the barrell.

    I’m glad it all worked out for you in the end!

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