Where’s My $#!*ing Paper?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am no cheerleading squad when it comes to the Moncton daily Times&Transcript.  I have chastised them in the past for spelling errors, not knowing the definition of words, even mistakes in front-page headlines.  So it’s perhaps ironic that today’s post is about how hard it seems for me to get my hands on a copy of the darn thing.

The home delivery service was fairly good up until a few months ago.  The paper was always in the hooks provided for that purpose under our mailbox, except in rain or snow, when it was put inside the mailbox.  Very nice.  Sure, the occasional mornings when I left for work at 7:00, it wasn’t there yet (even though it’s supposed to be), but I can cut them some slack there.  Then, an apparently catastrophic event in the T&T  world occurred:  our paper-carrier quit.

We then descended into a Hades of random delivery times (almost always after I left for work at 8:00); random delivery locations (side door, front door, end of driveway, front lawn), and random content (sections missing, two copies of sections, sometimes two entire papers).

Well, stoic and embattled media consumers that we are, we soldiered on.  Then, two weeks ago, the unthinkable happened.  Our Friday paper arrived without the TV Times section.  Now, for the most part, the TV schedules are useless, especially when we have the cable feed which offers far more accurate and deeper information about what’s on.  HOWEVER, this section also contains what for me is about 75% of the reason I even subscribe to the rag: the NY Times  Sunday Crossword.

After my screams of horror had subsided, I calmly called the T&T delivery department and was told by their IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system that there would be a three minute wait for a live person, but I could use the automated service.  So I did, and was assured by the nice computer-voice lady (complete with background sound effects of a keyboard being typed – very thorough, I thought) that a new (complete) paper was on its way.  This was 9:00 or so in the morning.  By 1:30, it hadn’t arrived, so I called again and used the trick that pays off for me about 50% of the time: after being told about the 3 minute wait, I hit zero about 5 times, and was rewarded with a human answer after one ring.  The lady was skeptical that I had placed a re-order over 4 hours ago, but checked the system and verified that I was not, in fact, a psychopath who got his kicks by lying to customer service people.  So she promised that the TV Times would be sent right over.  It never was.

Fast forward to this past Friday.  The paper was actually there in the hooks at 8:00, but when I got to work I found that the TV Times was missing AGAIN.  (Conspiracy?)  So I called, got the “3-minute wait” message, used my zeros trick again, and spoke to a live person who agreed to send me a new paper.  But I kept her on the phone for a bit to tell her about my last weekend’s experience and the general crappy service our neighbourhood has been getting.  She told me that all that would be over now, since they had finally assigned a regular carrier to our route. Yay!  But she also told me that remedial deliveries are NEVER made after noon, so the lady I called at 1:30 the week before was incorrect in promising me a new paper.

So then I asked her why the IVR always says there’s a 3 minute wait, when she was obviously sitting right there ready to take my call.  She didn’t have an opinion on that, saying she had never heard what the IVR says to callers.  What’s up with that?!?  If I ran a call centre, the FIRST THING I’d do is get newly recruited agents to call the number that they will be answering, and listen to what a real caller will be hearing before they speak to an agent.

So to sum up:  the T&T  lied to me about the post-noon remedial deliveries; and the T&T  lies to EVERYBODY who calls their delivery service number (about there being a 3-minute wait) to push them into the automated system.

ASIDE: For those of you who wonder how I made it through that weekend without my Crossword, that was our trip to St Andrews, so I had distractions to keep my mind off my grief.



Your Call is Very Important to Us

The customer-avoidance tool known as IVR (interactive voice response) really baffles me.  Not me actually navigating through one of the v-hells (although that frequently does baffle me, also); but why anyone would ever implement it.  The theory is (I guess) that you save money in the long run by not having to pay a human to answer your phones.  You can replace him with a machine that forces the caller to figure what what you’ve got available and try and match that up with what they are looking for.

Put aside for the moment that it often pisses people off when they can’t talk to a real person.  Leave alone that the tortuous paths that the caller is sent down rarely get them to what they want on the first try, if ever.  Don’t even consider the net loss of productivity to society (sure, you save part of one receptionist’s day, but at the cost of 10 minutes of wasted time for every one of the hundreds of people who encounter your “interface.”)  [Note the irony of that term when one of the “faces” is a PC hooked to a PBX in a comm closet.]  

No, the real reason it’s dumb, is that you are losing the golden opportunity to talk  to customers and prospects!  You spend a significant portion of your expense line on marketing to people so they will do what?  RESPOND.  Well, that’s what they’re doing!  Even someone calling with a complaint is an opportunity to turn them around or at least learn from your mistake.

The tragedy is that the call really is very important; it’s just not being treated that way.

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