Tuesday, January 4

AOL RE-DEFINES CUSTOMER SERVICE

While visiting my wife's mother in Lexington, KY, over the holidays, my wife spent the better part of the New Year's Eve evening attempting fitfully to cancel my mother-in-law's less-than-satisfactory AOL service for her and secure a cancellation number from an obstinate, overseas-based customer service representative, who identified himself only as "Mahesh," but who wouldn't provide his last name for the record or turn her call, as she repeatedly requested, over to his supervisor. She was dealt with rudely, was repeatedly put on hold, and even encountered continued, prolonged resistance when she told "Mahesh" in total exasparation that her mother would willingly pay the $50.00 contract cancellation penalty, if only he would provide a cancellation number and cease his obstinate, by-the-cue-cards drone about why her mother should remain an AOL customer. This insufferable battle of wits went on and on until finally I could take no more. I wanted to watch the ball drop in Times Square to mark the New Year, rather than hearing it drop on my wife's head, courtesy of the boiler room antics of the obstreperous, English-challenged "Mahesh." I grabbed the cell phone from her hand and asked "Mahesh" what he didn't understand about English and to quit jerking my wife around. I demanded to speak to a Customer Service Supervisor and said so in an angry voice for emphasis. Unrattled, and with the grace and self-assuredness that only an AOL customer service representative could provide, I was immediately transferred to a non-existent extension and heard a taped message telling me so! That's a novel touch, don't you think? Tantamount to saying: "You've been screwed, Dear Customer!" Apparently, what we experienced is not uncommon with AOL. While at my younger son's home on New Year's Day, he related a similar story about running the AOL Customer Service gauntlet in trying to secure a cancellation number. He, too, got the distinct impression he was getting the run-around from boiler room personnel based in India, who had been trained to put up a resistance comparable to what the 101st Airborne did to the German Army at Bastogne. Have any readers of this Blog had similar experiences with good ol' AOL?