Monday, June 13, 2011

Customer Service Admissions

So I just had the best experience with Netflix, which I was not expecting. I had returned The Butterfly Effect probably like a month ago and it never showed up as being returned in our queue, so we didn't get the next movie we were supposed to be getting. And I keep putting off contacting them because I was second guessing myself, thinking that maybe I really didn't return it, and that it was in some DVD case somewhere. I thought maybe it was in the DVD case for The Rockafire Explosion Documentary DVD about the animoanatronic (what the fuck? what is the word I'm looking for here? animatronic?) band that was at Showbiz Pizza -- and well, OK, we actually have 2 DVD copies of that movie because one is scratched and then the other one is the replacement but that one was supposed to be a gift, and then -- oh, just forget it. I know I sent the disc. I remember walking to the mailbox and dropping it in.

The point is I decided to contact Netflix and tell them the disc was mailed. I did this thing where I call customer service on my phone and then put it on the speaker function, so I don't have to cradle my phone on my shoulder (which is impossible to do with a cell phone pretty much -- although I suppose I could put on the hands free device but that means I have to go find that somewhere). So anyway, I put the phone down and let it run with me on speakerphone while on hold and meanwhile, I navigated around on the website trying to find what I'm supposed to find to report the problem. I figure, if I can figure out how to report the problem before they answer than I can just hang up. This seems very smart to me. I am patting myself on my back AS WE SPEAK.

Just as I was getting to the page where you go to report a problem like this, a customer service person came on. I talked to him about the problem and he said he would mark the movie as being lost in the mail. He said that he'll send me the next thing in the mail and that the movie is "Perfume." He asked me if I've ever read  the book of it and I said, "No. Why have you? Is it awesome?"

And he said, "Yeah, it's really good. Both the book and the movie."

"Really? I'm super excited about it. But the other ones I have at home I haven't watched yet, and I've had them for a while. They're sort of holding up the queue. I just need to get over it and send them back."

Then he said, "I know what you mean. I actually have the type of account that you can have 8 at once. So does everybody else here. None of us get all the way through all the movies we have."

I thought this was interesting. First of all, you would think people who work for Netflix would get it free. Secondly, you would think that they just get to bring the DVDs home and not have to have them sent through the mail. Well, maybe they're outsourced at a location that doesn't have the discs on hand. Or something. I guess I just imagined it's like if you work at a library and can hack into your own account and make it so that you don't own any overdue book fines, and you get first dibs on books when they come in and so on.

I love the idea of having somewhat personal conversations in a somewhat impersonal setting, like having an intimate conversation with a customer service representative. I always find that amusing when they do that in movies.

Sometimes I have weird interactions with customer service representatives, like this guy at a magazine distributor that I used to have to call to deal with account stuff regarding the bookstore where I work. The guy would ask me how I was and then I'd reciprocate the question out of typical good manners. But the weird thing was that each time, he's be super earnest and be like, "Thank you so much. Nobody ever asks me how I am." I found this weird. Nobody ever asks him back how he is? I find this hard to believe. I mean, I pretty much work a customer service job and people ask me how I am all the time. Even to the detriment of he conversation. I'll answer the phone at work and the first thing a lot of people say when they call the bookstore is "How are you?" Or sometimes they're strangely casual, and they'll say, "How's it goin'?" This annoys the fuck out of me. I'm not answering the phone for idle chit chat. I have shit to do. So I cut to the chase by not even reciprocating. I just say, "Fine. How can I help you?" Want to know where I learned to do that? Please don't shoot me when I tell you this. For a brief while in my twenties I listened to Dr. Laura. I know, I know, she's crazy. Kind of Republican-y but then also someone who converted into Judaism so she has that sort of devotion that only people who convert INTO something get, all crazy. Is there even a file card in the space-time continuum card catalog for someone with both of those characteristics? I guess I just think "Republican" when really she's conservative, and that doesn't necessarily mean you're necessarily both. But in my world, they're kind of the same.

OK, I have to go check her out on the internet now, because I have no idea what has become of her in the intervening years of me listening to her and now. BRB.

I'm back. Looks like she's on Sirius radio. Isn't that the same network or whatever that Howard Stern is on? Also, it says her show is uncensored. Is she into swearing now? Like maybe she gets mad at people for shacking up and having kids out of wedlock and then swears loudly at them? I did notice she posted a picture of herself on a motorcycle. So maybe there's some swearing. Maybe some spitting too.

Anyway, for a while I got really into listening to her, because she was so aggressive and mean, and I was fascinated with how she would just make fools of people on the phone. It's kind of like eating food that you know is really bad for you but you can't stop, even though you also know it's also sort of disgusting. Like Funyons with Cheese Wiz or peanut butter on a spoon right of the jar or eating 17 Kit Kat bars at once or something. I just had to listen. It's like listening to people argue when when they're in public. I'm all ears. Pretty much anybody emoting or being super mean in public, it's like I have dog ears for that.  Anyway, Dr. Laura would interrupt someone who she felt wasn't getting to the point fast enough and just go, "What would you like to talk to me about today?" Or maybe sometimes she might say, "What did you want to ask me today?" It's kind of condescending and not particularly nurturing but that's the way she is. So that's pretty much what I learned in my twenties: how to use Microsoft Excel and how to cut an otherwise friendly conversation short.

Not the best way to make friends.

The truth is that I actually hate talking on the phone.

But the Netflix guy was nice, and for once I felt quite magnanimous. I was so ecstatic that I actually got what I wanted. And endorphin levels were running high. I was all ready to express my gratitude with joking around with the Netflix guy. Lucky him.

But this nice customer service interaction is not bound to happen with any amount of frequency any time soon. After all, by the time whatever my situation is that results in me calling customer service, there's probably a reason why I didn't call them until now -- now I have something I need to talk to somebody about, so of course I tend to go into stuff all annoyed and confrontational. Just thinking about having to call any customer service for anything is making me all fidgety right at this moment.

So "Perfume" will be here any day. Now I better finish watching the other movies that have been here for 27,000 years: "Word Wars" and "Little Miss Sunshine." Joe even already watched "Little Miss Sunshine" and said I would probably like it, so maybe I really will get around to watching it, now that it has the Mason stamp of approval.

And oh! We saw the "X-Men: First Class" movie. It was good. Oh, origin stories! You rock my world!

But the popcorn at the other theater is better.

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