Why does utility support suck so bad?

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I’ve gone through two hellish customer support experiences lately with utility companies, and I just had a third.  Want to know what it’s like to order phone service from Charter?  After you go through the web site, put in your info, pick your plan and hit Submit, you get a live chat window.  The formatting is a copy/paste out of their chat window, typos and all:

Thank you for choosing Charter Chat Live! A Customer Care representative
from Sales Support will be with you shortly.

You have been connected to CVW Russell E .

brent ozar: Hello, you need anything from me?

CVW Russell E : Hello, brent. My name is Russell. Thank you for contacting Charter Communications.  How may I help you with your service order?

brent ozar: I just placed my order and this popped up.

CVW Russell E : I would be happy to help you with your order. Then I’d like to go over your services with you to ensure your needs are take care of, okay?

brent ozar: OK, go fast, I’m on my way out to lunch. Thanks!

CVW Russell E : Phone orders take a while to enter.

CVW Russell E : To assist you I will have to first verify your intormation. I’ll need ALL of the following information. please.
Your full name:
Service Street address:
Service Apt (If applicable):
Service City:
Service State:
Service Zipcode:
10 digit Phone number:

brent ozar: 6161 S Shore Drive, Whitehall, MI 49461

CVW Russell E : Your full name:

brent ozar: I don’t have a phone number. That’s kinda why I’m ordering phone service.

brent ozar: Brent Ozar

CVW Russell E : For security verification purposes I’ll need the last four digits for your SS#, please. (Numbers only, please)

brent ozar: XXXX

CVW Russell E : Do you want to be able to make international calls? (free to block)
Do you want to block third party and collect calls? (free to block)
Do you want your name and number listed? ($2/month for unlisted)

brent ozar: Intl – no. Block collect – yes. Name listed – yes.

CVW Russell E : Your Charter installed telephone equipment must not be moved without first contacting Charter. If it is relocated, in the event you dial 9-1-1, your location information will not be transmitted properly and you will be required to supply the emergency operator with the address of the emergency.  In the event of a power outage, 911 services will be available only if you purchase and install a back-up battery directly from the device manufacturer, Arris. You can order a back-up battery online at www.arrisistore.com or by calling 877-587-6554.  Do you have any questions?

brent ozar: No.

brent ozar: Are we done?

CVW Russell E : To ensure that your rights are protected, FCC mandates that you have the ability to verify through an independent third party your selection of Charter telephone as your service provider. However, we do need to speak to you.  We are available at 1-888-438-2427, within the next 2 hours.

brent ozar: For what?

CVW Russell E : FCC mandates.

brent ozar: What are FCC mandates?

CVW Russell E : It’s required. You can call the number to get that done, when you have more time. It is preffered within the next two hours though.

brent ozar: And what do I need to do?

brent ozar: I’m calling now and it’s asking for my home number.

CVW Russell E : Either call in and ask to do the TPV, or give me a phone number to call.
brent ozar: Sure, call 281-433-4054.

CVW Russell E : It has to be after you and I are done chatting, I’m not done the order they need access to it.

brent ozar: OK, call me now at 281-433-4054.

CVW Russell E : What ten digit contact phone number may we reach you at?
(Digital phone orders must use a different number than that house line)  You may recieve a courtesy call twice on the installation date, by an automated system.  Please don’t hang up, you’ll be asked to confirm your appointment.

brent ozar: 2814334054

CVW Russell E : 112608 @ 3pm – 5pm is the soonest I can get someone there to install Telephone.
Appointment requirements:
-Access to all needed areas of the building
-English speaking person who is over 18 years old (must show proof of age, and must sign the work order)
-Pets may need to be secured
Are you available during that time?

brent ozar: Yes.

CVW Russell E : Your order number is 42535159.  Just to recap we are setting up Digital phone at $29.99/month for 6 months. (Taxes not included)  Telephone installed on 112608 @ 3pm – 5pm.  The charges will show on the next bill, your bill will also be prorated to sync with your billing cycle. Our service will be billed one month in advance.  If you need to make changes to the services or appointment time on your order, please call us at 888-438-2427.  Enjoy your service and welcome to the Charter family..

brent ozar: OK, great, thanks!

CVW Russell E : Do you still want me to call or will you call back whne you have more time, it takes a few minutes to complete.

brent ozar: Yes, please call me now, I’m waiting.

brent ozar: 281-433-4054

(several minutes later without any chat activity)

CVW Russell E : Is there anything else I may help you with today?

brent ozar: No, do you need to call me first?

brent ozar: My phone still hasn’t rang.

CVW Russell E : I haven’t called you yet.

(What is it about utility companies that makes their service suck so bad?  This is my biggest fear about utility pricing.  Forget security – that pales next to the thought of having to call my utility computing vendor for support…)

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