“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to navigate through the ‘customer care’ innovation of a leading ‘international’ bank and get to talk to a human, make them understand a problem and get it resolved successfully, while staying sane and not using words like ‘supervisor’, ‘consumer court’, general swear words etc. Good luck!” (“This message will not self-destruct, but be careful that you don’t”)
Tom Cruise and all his impossible missions will not be able to hold a candle to this holy shit ‘mission’ we all face almost every day: having to call customer care. My mission is (which I have no choice but to accept) to succeed in the impossible mission of getting my money back! I don the cape of Ethan Hunt, take a deep breath, ensure that my phone keypad can take lots of stress, put a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on my workstation and dreading what lies ahead, I dial the number with that same sinking feeling I get every time I dial these numbers.
(Yes, bankers really don’t seem to have imagination. Else how can a phone number so pedestrian be the ‘official customer care’ number for an international bank?)
Line rings twice and connects. A recorded bird chirps from the other end, the honey-sweet voice assuring that everything will be alright.. And so it starts!
“Hi! Welcome to Aisi-Waisi Bank! To continue in English, Press 1! For Hindi, press 2! For..”
“To know more about Aisi-Waisi products, press 1. If you are an existing customer, press 2…” (I have always wondered what would happen if I press 1. Maybe you will be transferred to a magical land where rainbows bloom and honey flows in the rivers….)
“For banking accounts, press 1. For credit cards, press 2. For loans, press 3. For demat…”
To apply for an Aisi-Waisi credit card, press 1. To report a lost card, press 2. To know more about your credit card, press 3.
“Please enter your 16 digit card number” (Straightforward!)
“Please enter your date of birth in day, month, year format. For example, if your date of birth is June 6, 1974, enter 06, 06, 1974” (#FAIL: This makes no sense as an example, as the numbers for the day and month here are the same! Why not June 12??)
Please enter your four digit verification number! (I know, I know. It is for my security. I think half of my brain-memory space is occupied by all the zillion passwords and PINS and security numbers. God help if you forget it. There will be no end to the irritation then.)
Sorry, the verification number is incorrect. Please enter again!
“Dear customer, as per your last statement… (Success! At least they have recognized that I exist! I shut my brain to the remaining of the ‘announcement’ about my account. Don’t want them to influence my thinking. Hah!) …To hear this again, press 1. To continue, press 2.”
“Dear customer, as per your last statement….” (Damn! Shit! My brain was still switched off! I didn’t pay attention! Now have to wait for the entire crap to play over again.) “…To hear this aga..”
“To hear the previous message again, press 1. For unbilled transactions, press 2. For more information on your account, press 3. For past payments, press 4. For bill payments, press 5. For Balance Transfer, press 6. For rewards, press 7. To hear this menu again, press 8. To go back to the previous menu, press 0. To go back to the main menu, press #.” (As expected, there is still no option where I can talk to a real human being. It is now time to use the superior human intellect and move strategically. Aha! There is a 9 missing! And 9 is the universal “speak to our representative option! You thought you could hoodwink me?!)
“Sorry… That was an invalid entry. Please try again. To hear the previous…” (<preffered profnanity here> Damn! The machines win. But I won’t give up. Let me see.. It has to be “More information on my account”. Ha.)
“Please wait. Your call is getting transferred to our customer support executive” (It happens! I did it! Success! Wow!! Life does throw you little surprises now and then!)
“Dear customer, this call may be recorded for internal training and quality improvement purposes.. (In other words, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you might say will be recorded and used against you”) …your call will be answered. in. 3. minutes. and. 42-and-a-half-seconds. (How the hell do they know? Do they just tell you the average time employees take for a toilet break??)
Sometimes, at exactly this stage, the unthinkable occurs: The line disconnects and the call drops!! WTF??!!?! All that work for naught!!!! AAAAAARRRRGGHHHH!!!!!
This casues violent explosions of rage/Hulk disease/insanity which can get directed towards any unfortunate/ unsuspecting person/object in the vicinity.
This time I was lucky, that didn’t happen (maybe because of all the good deeds I have done?)
After some assorted clicks and beeps: “Dear customer, all our representatives are busy attending to other customers. You call IS important to us. Please stay on the line, we will be with you shortly!” Apparently I am not important enough for them to hire additional staff to talk to me. (Also, “Please wait while we find someone who is not on a toilet/chai-smoke-gossipping break”)
*Music plays* (Mozart/Beethoven/irritating company jingle/classic western theme song) Also, “Do you know that you can avail personal loans at just 24% per annum?? Don’t miss this opportunity! Talk to our representative now!” The recordings continue to emphasize how important I am and how awesome their loan plans are, interspersed by stop-and-go music, for far longer than the initially promised 3-odd minutes.
Close to completing the first part of my mission, I do a recall on what has transpired so far. I do some pranayama sessions to calm my mind and prepare myself for the treacherous journey that lies ahead..
(All this is entirely fictious. There is no credit card number and it’s PIN as given here, and there is no such flow for any bank’s customer support, this is rather a common amalgamation of many such IVRs. However, the date example is true.)
Keypad image courtesy: http://limitedaccessohio.com/cleveland-gate-operators-access-systems.asp