Cell Phones are Hell

Man_talking_on_cell_phone.jpgIt amazes me that, while cell phones have truly revolutionized the way we live, there are some glaring service issues that don’t seem to get any better! This was particularly frustrating to me this weekend, so I wanted to discuss. Below are my main gripes:

Living in the largest city in the country and one of the most densely populated metropolises in the world, one would think that cell reception would be optimal, at least from the major carriers here in the States. I formerly had Verizon, and I rarely found myself with less than 4 bars of service. It was quite nice. When my work gave me a Blackberry on Cingular (which has since merged with AT&T), I was shocked to learn that their service is seriously lacking in the New York area. And, the pocket of town where reception is the worst apparently has its epicenter in my apartment. To utilize that old cliche`, they can send a man to the moon, but I can’t order Chicken Loh Mein from my bedroom.

While it is not specific to cell phones or NYC, another phone-related trend that I have begun to find particularly cumbersome is the amount of options that phone companies give you before you can actually leave a message for someone. If I call a friend and just want to leave a quick message, I have to first listen to their actual message, then have to wait for instructions (ie “Please press 2 to leave a message and wait for the beep”) as if I haven’t used the phone in 15 years. Next, I have to wait for the directive to press # when complete if I would like more options, and then have to listen further to the machine telling me that I have the option of leaving a callback number, or even paging the user. Now, first off, who actually presses the # button when complete to check more options? Has this feature ever really been used? Moreover, does anyone actually use the page/callback feature? Isn’t this a bit archaic? To me, this is the equivalent of a computer having a typewriter mode.

What’s with customer service lines? Ironically, these have become models of bad customer service. A couple of things… First of all, are there any companies that aren’t receiving “higher than normal call volumes?” This has been going on for like 10 years now. GET SOME MORE EMPLOYEES! And, why do I have to type in my account number if I am going to have to tell the agent once they finally pick up? It’s not like these numbers are 4 digits long. They are often 20 digits, and have letters and numbers combined. And them offering me the chance to just say them out-loud to a computer prompt doesn’t help. They never hear right anyway, so it is just a big tease. Lastly, what’s the deal with the million comments, questions, and offers that a company gives you at the end of a customer service call. Once they have helped you (or not, as is often the case), they then ask if there is anything else that they can do for you, and if they have helped you, and offers that may be relevant to you, and then end with asking if you want to participate in a free survey… Who in the hell actually does these surveys? Why would you?

Phones were first invented to improve efficiency and provide for simpler, faster communication. At this time of shitty service and horrible wait times, phones have actually made things more difficult. It is an interesting phenomenon. Luckily, though, we have the Internet, which makes both email and instant messaging service readily available, and as more and more customer service functions are incorporated into company and product websites, hopefully these dreaded CS numbers will eventually be a thing of the past.

[photo courtesy gotaxnow.com]

1 Comment so far

  1. Neil (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

    We have pretty solid mobile phone reception in Australia especially in our city areas.

    John McEnroe ad complaining about US reception

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