THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD
I've been meaning to write about THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD. I mentioned them in my last entry. By worst company, I don't mean morally, politically or environmentally. For that you can take your pick:
You know, the usual suspects.
I'm talking about worst company for its customers. I'm talking about the worst company to do business with. That company is called YES! OPTUS. It's an Australian telecom company.
In Brisbane, I buy a YES! OPTUS SIMS chip for my cellphone. My U.S. phone service, T-Mobile (actually a German company, and a good one), allows you to change chips once a year. It saves money while traveling.
In order to activate the new chip you have to check in on the web or call a special activation number. According to the booklet that accompanies the chip, to keep your previous number, you have to call from your cellphone.
I go outside the electronics store where I bought the chip. I dial the number. I get a recording that tells me how much faster activation would be over the web. Then it plays music for 5 minutes.
Finally, someone with a very heavy Indian accent answers the phone. [Aside: A New York comedienne said that the reason all those Indian cab drivers always talk on cellphone headsets is that they're moonlighting, doing tech support for IT companies.]
“Good day,” he says, “my name is Jim. And how can I assist you today?”
[Aside: Why is it that these guys are forced to take American/English names? Do they think it fools the customers? This guy is Jim, like I'm Abdul.]
Jim wants my name. I give it to him.
“That's Michael D-as in door, O-as in Open...” he starts.
“No, Board,” I correct, “Like a piece of wood. You know B-as in Boy, O-as in Opera, A-as in Apple, R-as in Rabbit, D-as in doll.”
“I'm being sorry, sir,” he says. “So that's T-as in Toy, O as in Orange...”
Eventually, he gets it.
And your Australian address?
“I don't have an Australian address,” I tell him. “I'm traveling and I won't be in one place for more than 3 days.”
“I'm being very sorry, I'm sure,” he says. “I cannot activate your card without an address in Australia.”
I look up at the street sign in front of where I'm sitting.
“183 Boundary Street,” I say. “In Brisbane.”
“Thank you for that information,” he says. “And the post code?”
“I don't know the post code,” I tell him. “Why do you need the post code? It's a phone. I'm not getting mail here.”
“I'm being very sorry,” he says. “I cannot activate your card without a post code.”
“I'll call back,” I tell him.
“Have a good day,” he says.
When I get back to my hosts apartment, I gather the necessary information and call back. Again I'm tortured by the announcement and hold time.
When someone finally answers, she's got an even thicker accent requiring me to ask for repetition every third or fourth word.
“Good day to you sir,” she says. “My name is Mary. How can I assist you?”
With several whats, excuse mes, and could you repeat thats? I get the information to the woman, including my postcode.
“And I'd like to keep my current number,” I tell her.
“Please be holding on sir,” she says. “That's a different department. Have a good day.”
On hold. More music. A voice.
“Good day to you, sir,” says the voice, “My name is Larry. How can I assist you?”
“I want to keep my current phone number,” I tell him.
“I'll be happy to help you,” he says. “My I have your name?”
I tell him.
“That's V-as in Victor, O-as in Orange...”
Eventually he gets it.
“And your address.”
I give it to him.
“And the post code,”
I'm ready and give it to him... with a touch of triumph.
“And the name of your current telephone company?”
“T-mobile.” I answer.
“And your account number?” he asks.
“You mean my current phone number?” I reply.
“No sir,” he says. “I need your account number.”
“My account is in New York,” I tell him. “Who knows their phone company account number?”
“I'm being very sorry sir,” he says. “We cannot switch your number without an account number. It should be on your bill.”
“My bills are in New York,” I tell him. “Who travels with their old telephone bills?”
“I'm being very sorry sir,” he says. “We need your account number to allow you to keep your old number.”
“Okay,” I tell him, “I'll call New York and get the number and call back.”
“That would be fine sir. No worries.”
“Yeah, right.” I say.
“Have a good day,” he says.
I spend real money on a call to T-Mobile in New York.
“You need your account number to keep your old phone number?” says the pleasant woman there. “I never heard of that before.”
“Don't get me started,” I tell her.
With German efficiency, I have my account number in a few minutes. I again make the dreaded phonecall to YES!
After the long recorded message tells me to go to the website, there's more music, someone answers.
“Hello,” says the Indian woman, “My name is Jane. How can I assist you?”
“I want to activate my SIMS card,” I tell her, “but I want to keep my old number so I need to speak to another department.”
“No worries, sir,” she says. “May I have your name?”
I give it to her.
“That's Michael D-as in door, O-as in Open...” she starts.
Eventually, she gets it.
“Yes sir,” she says, “I understand you are calling to activate your SIMS card.”
“That's right,” I tell her, “and I need to keep my old number.”
“I'm being sorry, sir,” she says. “Our system is down right now. Could you please be so kind as to call back in an hour. We will be happy to take care of it for you.”
“Why did you need my name to tell me the system is down?” I ask.
“It is most polite to know with whom you're speaking,” she says.
“I'll call back,” I say.
“Have a good day,” she says.
It's 3 PM. I call back at 4. The system is still down. “Please be so kind as to call back in one hour.”
I call back at 5. The system is still down. Call back in an hour.
I call back at 6. The system is still down. Call back in an hour.
I call back at 7. The system is still down. Call back in an hour.
I call back at 8. The recording is different from the one before. An Australian accented message tells me: Thank you for calling Yes! Optus. Our offices are now closed. Please call back tomorrow morning after 8:30. We'll be here, eager to assist you.
I wonder if Australian law allows me to sue for a stroke or heart attack.
At 8:35 the next morning:
Thank you for calling Yes! Optus. Due to unusually high call volume, your call may not be answered for [click] 15 minutes [click]. We suggest you use our website or you might want to call back at another time. Of course, you can hold on and your call will be answered by the next available service agent.
I hold. It's twenty minutes before someone answers.
“Hello,” says the Indian woman. “My name is Sally. How can I assist you?”
“I want to activate my SIMS chip,” I tell her. “But I want to keep my old phone number, so I think I need to speak to a different department.”
“Yes sir,” she says, “and what is your name?”
“Michael Smith,” I tell her.
“Certainly, Mr. Smith,” she says. “I'll be happy to switch you.”
Ah! A minute saved.
A man's voice this time.
“Hello,” he says, “my name is Ralph. How can I assist you?”
“My name is Mykel Board,” I tell him. “That's B-as in boring, A-as in annoyed, O-as in 'orrible, R-as in rotten, D-as in dumb.”
Eventually, he gets it.
“Yes, Mr. Board,” he says. “How can I be of assistance?”
“I want to activate my SIMS chip and keep my old phone number,” I tell him.
“Certainly,” he says. “Can I have your address?”
I give it to him... with the postcode.
“And your previous phone company?”
I tell him T-Mobile.
“And your previous phone number?”
“Phone number?” I say. “I thought you needed an account number.”
“No, sir,” he says, “I need your phone number to transfer it.”
I tell him my T-Mobile phone number.
“That's Australia, then 064..”
“No,” I correct him, “it's a U.S. number. The country code is ONE.”
“Please be holding for a few minutes,” he clicks off and the YES! OPTUS message returns, telling me how much quicker things would be on the website.
After 2 or three minutes of this he returns.
“I am being sorry,” he says. “You cannot transfer that number. You have to get a new number with YES! OPTUS. Would you like me to transfer you to that department.”
Can he hear my sobs?
“Please, do that,” I say, barely keeping control.
“No worries,” he answers.
[Do they train them in Australian English? If I called him from New York, would he say, I'd be happy to?]
I'm back to the basic activation department.
“Hello,” says the Indian woman, “My name is Nancy. How can I assist you?”
“I'd like to activate my SIMS card,” I tell her. “My name is Mykel Board.
That's B-as in Boy...”
Eventually she gets it.
My new phone number-- but only until March 25 is Australia: 043-561-097. Call me if you dare. Have a good day.
My website is at: www.mykelboard.com