Apparently, You CAN’T hear me now! Gotta love that Virtual Customer Service…

I’m in the process of switching my bundled (home phone/internet/television) service from my local phone company to the local cable company for three reasons: their highly touted Fiber Optic TV-Internet-Phone service is unavailable in my area; I found out that the phone company’s “high-speed internet” really stands for DSL: Deliberately Slow Link; and it’s less expensive than what I’m paying now.

With that said, I tried to contact the phone company. I went online and there’s no link to cancel your account; so I called them. To complicate matters, unionized workers at the local phone company are currently on strike — so, good luck to anyone trying to process a new order, much less cancel their service. I called the number on my bill and the automated system told me that due to the strike there were no agents available to help. I checked the website once again and found this “virtual assistant”… here’s what happened next (notice the canned answers in this electronic exchange):

• A Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.
• We apologize for the delay. You are next in the queue. A representative will be with you shortly. Agent Maureen has joined.
• MAUREEN: Welcome to Online Sales Support! What services may I help you learn more about today?
• ME: I am trying to cancel my home phone, DSL internet, & TV service. Tried calling and there’s no visible link to do that on the website.
• ME: Can you help me with this?
• MAUREEN: I do apologize for the inconvenience to you.
• MAUREEN: Please call our local Business office to proceed with your request.
• ME: I did… no one is available to help!!!
• ME: It sends me to the website and there’s no link to place a cancellation order.
• MAUREEN: I do apologize for the inconvenience to you.
• MAUREEN: Let me try and see if I can transfer this session to the right department to get help.
• ME: thanks…
• This session is being transferred. This session is transferred to Servando. Agent Servando has joined.
• SERVANDO: One moment please.
• ME: thanks…
• SERVANDO: I am sorry the service cannot be canceled online, you will need to call 1-800-PHONE COMPANY
• ME: I called that number and they said no one is available to help go online!!!!
• ME: It’s the darn strike!!!
• ME: Someone has to be able to resolve this!
• SERVANDO: Do you have any further questions I can assist you with today?
• ME: yes… can you get someone to help me cancel my account?
• ME: the 1-800-PHONE-COMPANY number isn’t an option.
• SERVANDO: I am sorry the service cannot be canceled online, you will need to call 1-800-PHONE-COMPANY
• ME: thanks for nothing!
• SERVANDO: Thank you for choosing PHONE COMPANY. Have a Nice day. Your session is now closed. Thank you, have a nice day.

Ah, the joys of “virtual assistance”! Have you had a similar experience with these virtual customer service types? If so, tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story. And, don’t worry a REAL person will interact with you!